Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tempeh Tikka Masala

A picture is worth a thousand words, but don't judge this recipe by the photo, which is less than ideal. This recipe is, however, close to perfect!

Tempeh is one of the plant proteins that I have finally managed to understand and come to love. Here it really is the perfect foil for this silky, tangy spicy curry from India. Take a break from tofu or seitan and give tempeh a try; trust me, you'll get hooked.

As with so many ethnic cuisines that I did not grow up eating, finding a recipe that fits my particular palate is always a challenge, but this one hit the sweet spot for me and my family. We all loved the complexity of spices. The steamed and then sauteed tempeh soaked up just enough of the flavors but held its form to make this a dish that will be in my regular dinner rotation!

We enjoyed this along with some Palak, Indian style Creamed Spinach and some Besam Chapati (chick pea flour pancakes). But it's also great over rice or with Naan. 

Don't be intimidated by the list of ingredients, it's mostly spices. Do try and get all of the ingredients; the dried methi and asafoetida will probably be the hardest to come by so don't stress if you can't find them. But do take the time to find the others; you'll love the recipe so much that you'll be making it again soon and will appreciate having the spices at the ready.

Tempeh Tikka Masala with Palak (adapted from Vegan Richa)
Serves 2-3

Tempeh Marinade

4 oz tempeh cut into small cubes (8 pieces)
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chili powder or cayenne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon plain yogurt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon garam masala or to taste
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon coriander powder
a generous pinch of asafoetida (hing)
1 teaspoon dried fenugreek leaves (methi)
1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 medium onion chopped small (1/3 cup)
1 1/2 cups tomato puree
1 inch ginger
5-6 cloves of garlic
1 green chili or to taste, deseeded and deveined (small serrano)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
3-5 tablespoons half and half
1 tablespoon butter

Mix all the ingredients of the marinade in small sauce pan and add tempeh. Cook over medium low heat covered for 15-20 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed by the tempeh; you will begin to small the tempeh browning once the liquid is gone. Remove from heat and drizzle on 1 teaspoon of olive oil and toss to coat. Return pan to heat and turn up to medium high and allow tempeh to crisp up, tossing ever minute or so for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. 

Combine all of the species in a small dish - garam masala, paprika, coriander, asafoetida, dried fenugreek (methi), and turmeric. In a blender or food processor, puree tomato, ginger, garlic and chili until totally smooth. In a larger sauce pan heat 2 teaspoons of oil on medium heat. Add the onion and cool until translucent and golden, about 5 minutes. Add spice mixture and stir to coat and cook 1-2 minutes until you begin to smell spices roasting. Add tomato puree to onion mixtures and turn heat down to medium low and cook for 10 minutes stirring every couple of minutes until the flavors have married. Add yogurt, salt and sugar to taste. If the curry is too spicy, add more sugar, 1/4 teaspoon at a time to offset the spice. Add tempeh and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in half and half based on your desired creaminess and swirl in butter and mix in well to melt it and remove from heat. Garnish with more yogurt and minced cilantro.


Recipes currently inspiring me:

Hummus with Ful at Eats Well With Others
Garden Corn Chowder with Basil and Chives at Post Punk Kitchen
Moroccan Potato Cakes with Chermoula at Flavors of the Sun

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