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Recipes // Salads // Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens

Tofu Curry with Mustard Greens

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By Bryant Terry

I was inspired to make this dish after seeing a recipe for Tanzanian fish curry in The Taste of Africa, by Rosamund Grant and Josephine Bacon. My version is pretty straightforward: the tofu makes it hearty and satisfying, the greens are tender and give the dish a nourishing feel, and the curried broth brings everything together.

4 to 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 14 to 16 ounces extra-firm tofu, cut into 1⁄2-inch cubes
  • 3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3⁄4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 cup finely diced white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
  • 11⁄2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted (see sidebar) and ground
  • 6 cardamom pods, toasted (see sidebar) then seeds removed and ground
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chopped tomatoes with juices
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chunky peanut butter
  • 1 jalapeño chile, seeded and minced
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, homemade (see sidebar) or store-bought
  • 12 ounces mustard greens, stemmed and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Put the tofu in a bowl, drizzle with 2 teaspoons of the oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Gently toss the tofu with clean hands until evenly coated. Transfer to the lined baking sheet, spreading the tofu in a single layer. Bake, turning once after 15 minutes, for 30 minutes, until firm.
  3. Meanwhile, warm the remaining 3 tablespoons oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until they pop, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and sauté until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, cumin, cardamom, chili powder, black pepper, garlic powder, and ground ginger and sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, peanut butter, and jalapeño and stir until well combined. Stir in the stock, mustard greens, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Decrease the heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes.
  4. Gently stir in the tofu and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Taste and season with more salt and black pepper, if desired. Serve garnished with the cilantro.

Toasting whole spices
Although it might be convenient to use preground spices, toasting whole spices and grinding them right before using them will give you bolder and more complex flavors. The easiest way to toast spices is to heat a dry skillet over medium heat and add the spices after the pan is warm. Shake the pan to move the spices around and toast until they smell nutty and fragrant, usually 2 to 5 minutes. If toasting several spices for a recipe, do them in separate batches, since cooking times vary. Once the spices have cooled, pulverize them in a mortar or grind them in a spice grinder and use right away or store in an airtight container for up to 6 months.

Simple vegetable stock

About 7 cups

This is a simple yet flavorful recipe for vegetable stock, and you can make a big batch and freeze it until you need it. In the past, I would cut the vegetables into chunks, but I find that thinly slicing and grating the vegetables makes for a much more flavorful stock.

Ingredients:

  • 1⁄2 small head of green cabbage (about 1 pound), thinly sliced
  • 1 large carrot, coarsely grated
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 head garlic, broken apart into cloves and unpeeled cloves smashed with the flat side of a knife
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 9 cups water

Directions:

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large pot and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Decrease the heat to medium low and simmer uncovered for about 1 hour.
  2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible. (Compost the solids.) Use immediately or let cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or the freezer for up to 6 months
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