Friday, March 15, 2013

Tandori-Style Tofu Kebabs: Taking Kebabs Veg-Friendly

I believe that people who "hate" tofu either hate the whole idea of it or have never had it cooked really well, with enough flavor added to it. In this case, marinated in tandori-style spices and grilled to have a nicely crispy outside while maintaining its creamy center, it becomes almost drool-worthy.

Tasked with making a Madhur Jaffrey kebab recipe this week, I couldn't find a veg-friendly one I liked and I didn't see any local fish at a good enough price. My plan was to find an actual Jaffrey kebab recipe I could adapt for tofu but then I ended up coming across a recipe for Tandori-Style Shrimp that although not really a kebab recipe, was meant to be enjoyed as a pupu and eaten with toothpicks. Draining and pressing extra-firm tofu with my TofuXpress (best thing ever for good tofu), makes it more "durable" and gives it a meat-like texture. With plenty of time in the marinade, it had lots of flavor and was a great dinner combined with easy packaged saffron rice and sauteed spinach with garlic.

Tandori-Style Tofu Kebabs
Adapted from Madhur Jaffrey's Indian Cooking
(Serves 4 as snack, 3 as part of meal)

(*Note: I made a double batch of the marinade to cover all the tofu but kept the food coloring the original amounts)

4 Tbsp plain yogurt
a 1-inch (2.5 cm) cube of fresh ginger, peeled and very finely grated
1 large clove garlic, peeled and mashed to a pulp
5 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds
1/4 tsp garam masala
2 tsp yellow liquid food coloring mixed w/ 1 tsp red liquid food coloring
3/4 lb (335 g) shrimp, peeled, deveined, patted dry (omitted)
(12 oz extra-firm tofu, pressed, drained & sliced into eight (about 3/4") pieces)
4 Tbsp unsalted butter (I used about 1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil to fry tofu slices)

Put yogurt in a bowl and beat lightly with a fork or whisk until it is smooth and creamy. Add the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, cumin, garam masala and food coloring. Stir to mix and set aside for 15 minutes. Push this liquid through a sieve into a second bowl. (I didn't bother sieving) Add the shrimp (in this case tofu slices--I poked small holes in the slices with a skewer to allow as much flavor to penetrate as possible) to the marinade and gently mix so marinade covers everything. Set aside for 1 hour. (I marinated it for about 2.5 hours).

Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium flame. When butter has melted completely, turn heat to medium-high and immediately pour in all the contents of the bowl with the shrimp. Stir and fry for a few minutes or until the butter separates and you have a thick sauce clinging to the shrimp. Do not overcook. Stick toothpicks in shrimp and serve immediately. (I heated a large grill pan over high heat and when hot brushed it well with canola oil., then reduced heat to medium-high. I speared the sauce covered tofu slices on small skewers and laid them down in batches in the grill pan, cooking them about 2 minutes per side until the outsides were grill-marked and just slightly charred.)  

Notes/Results: Very happy with how well this turned out--great flavor and texture. The best thing about the tofu, besides the flavor, was the crispy grilled outside. I doubled the marinade recipe to make sure I had plenty to cover the slices completely and made sure to leave it in the mix for over 2 hours. A satisfying and colorful dinner with the yellow rice and bright green spinach. I would definitely make this again.

This is my entry for Kebab Krazy, our theme this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Stop by and check out the links to see what food-on-a-stick recipes that everyone made.

Happy Aloha Friday!


  1. sounds like a great alternative to chicken :)

  2. That marinade sounds wonderful! So spicy delicious.

  3. What a great idea! Looks yummy!

  4. I've never had tofu cooked well. The crusty exterior on these kebabs seems like something I would like. "Crusty" sounds like a bad thing...but on food it is so very good!

  5. Couscous & ConsciousnessMarch 16, 2013 at 6:16 PM

    I have always hated tofu until I tried Ottolenghi's Black Pepper Tofu, which is so good it convinced me that there could be room for tofu and I to share the same planet. This looks like a dish that could make me feel the same way. Whilst I'm still not huge on tofu, I would definitely try this and I'm pretty sure I would even really like it.

  6. This looks wonderful! I would never have thought to use tofu in a kebab!
    And serving it with yellow rice and spinach, makes such a perfect meal!

  7. Ok, I'm definitely going to break down and make Ottolenghi's Black Pepper Tofu. I'm convinced that I'll like it just based on the fact that I love beans. Good logic, right?

    At any rate, your tofu kebabs look delicious and I actually love that the marinade is healthy. I feel like every marinade I look at is packed with oil or some other form of fat which makes it almost impossible to eat if you're watching your waistline.


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