What I needed:
Garlic – few pods
Change of clothes – 1
Shower essentials (tap, soap, etc.)
A small stool
Mop – 1
Patience – in abundance
You may or may not need the above items – I did.
While I was preparing this dish, I had my 2 and a ½ year old inquisitive son (V) on my case. He seems to have already developed a strange affinity for the kitchen. He already narrates & demonstrates his own recipes and all of them end up seasoned with salt and pepper:)
At first, I struggled to find the right spot to photograph my ingredients. Just when I thought I sorted that one out, V dashed in super excited looking at all the food and equipment and wanted to help (they always want to help!). He was tasked to peel garlic. Instantly, he loved the task he was assigned. He felt like a grown up. He was proud to help me as if I had bestowed upon him, the biggest responsibility of his lifetime. He got on with the task which meant, I got on with mine. To my surprise, he did a pretty neat job with the garlic!
I made some progress with the tofu dish. I was satisfied.
If only, 2 and half year olds could sustain their happiness by peeling garlic! My happiness was short-lived. When we started cooking, little did I know that I was just going to witness a tantrum that will become worthy of an honorable post on my blog.
I washed my hands to start cooking. V saw me. Of course, he wanted to do it too! Under normal circumstances, I would carry him to ‘make him taller’ and let him wash his hands by himself. I really wanted to get on with the cooking, so I put a stool for him to stand on and wash his own hands with the expectation that he would be engaged in his own little venture for some time. Ten minutes later, he still wanted to wash his hands! I explained that we should not waste water (logic usually works!). I attempted to distract him. I tried to entice him with his bath toys and all the fun he could possibly have in the bath. Nothing worked! He was focused. Like most kids his age, he knew what he wanted! What followed was a 1-hour episode that resulted in leaking underpants and a pee trail that went from the living room to the bedroom. Thankfully, the kitchen was spared.
In the end, I lifted him up and took him to the shower. I thought that could help because honestly, nothing was helping. Instead, he got more agitated. His tantrums peaked. He was uncontrollable. I reminded myself constantly of that one single virtue every parent should have, patience.
I poured water on his head against his will in the hope that it will cool him down. Suddenly, there was silence as the water splashed on his head, straightening his hair, running through his eyes and face. He looked calm and he was not crying. What seemed like a never-ending ordeal had finally come to an end.
I could finally get back to making and clicking my Spicy Tofu cubes.
Our helper, D, makes this Indonesian/Malay recipe. This is my version of it. D usually deep fries the tofu and I have a natural aversion for anything deep fried in my regular cooking. In addition, it makes the tofu cubes lose all the moisture from inside. So, my version has stir fried Tofu / Paneer.
To print this recipe, click here.
(Serves 3 to 4)
Firm Tofu: 250 gms
(Alternatively, you could use Paneer and follow the same recipe. I make it interchangeably and it works just fine).
Dried red chillies: 20 – 25 depending on the size of the chillies
Garlic: 3 pods
Galangal (or Thai Ginger): ½ inch pc
Kaffir lime leaves: 6, torn
Long / String beans: 6 cut into 2” long pcs
Sugar: ½ tsp
Salt: to taste
Oil: 3 tbsp
How I did it:
Cut the dried red chillies into 2. Shake it off so that the seeds come out. Throw the seeds away. Add hot water enough to soak the red chillies and microwave it for 15 seconds. You can also soak it in hot water for 10 minutes. This will soften the dried red chillies. Now wash the chillies under running water gently rubbing it and removing any seeds you can. This step is important to ensure that the chilli paste does not become overly spicy.
There are many varieties of Tofu available in the market. Use the “firm” tofu to make this dish. If you use tofu that is soft or silk tofu, the tofu will crumble. If you do not have tofu and assuming you have paneer (or Indian home made cheese), use that instead. Cut the tofu / paneer into 1” cubes. Rub some salt on this Tofu and keep aside.
Pound garlic using a mortar and pestle.
Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a non-stick pan. Add the tofu cubes and lightly fry it until gets a light brownish color. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan. Add the pound garlic. Stir fry for 30 seconds on low heat. Add the sliced onions and sugar. Soften the onions on medium heat stirring frequently (approx. 5 mins). Add the chilli paste (about 3 tbsp) and salt. Cook the chilli paste on slow heat until the oil separates. This may take up to 10 mins. Once done, add the Galangal to this mix. Stir for another 2 mins.
Add 1/3 cup water to moisten this paste. Next, add the long beans and cook it on medium heat stirring occasionally. If it is dry, add some more water (3 – 4 tbsp). Remember that the long beans should be crunchy and not overcooked.
Now add the pan fried tofu / paneer cubes along with the torn kaffir lime leaves.
Combine everything together to ensure that the tofu / paneer is uniformly coated with the chilli paste. Stir for another 5 minutes on low heat.
Serve with rice. As this dish is high on heat, I prefer to have something cooling along with it like mix vegetable clear soup and an everyday cucumber/tomato light salad.