Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Making my own chickpea tofu - recipe

Scrambled tofu 
I have been meaning to write up this recipe post for ages! Scrambled chickpea tofu has become my go-to hot lunch because it is easy, has a delicious nutty chickpea taste and is ridiculously cheap to make! What's not to like about that? I mix up a batch of six tofu blocks, cook up one fresh and freeze the other five. It does mean a bit of organisation, but little enough that I can manage it!

I learnt that chickpea tofu is also known as Shan tofu or Burmese tofu although I am not totally sure if it actually originated in Burma. Its main ingredient is chickpea flour. Each six-portion batch uses roughly 100g of this flour and I can buy a 500g bag for about £1.50 so 25p a batch and, once the spices are in, about 5p a portion. However, I discovered that I can reduce that even more by buying the Indian-named gram flour which is Exactly The Same Thing! My local indie supermarket has 500g of Chickpea Flour for £1.50 and the same weight of Gram Flour for £1.25! On the same shelf! No doubt if I had a good Asian supermarket nearby and could buy bigger bags, it would get even cheaper. (If you can't find any nearby, Planet Organic have 1kg bags for £2.70)

1 cup of chickpea flour
3 cups of water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chilli powder or similar
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Splash of Rapeseed oil

First I use the rapeseed oil (or whatever cooking oil you have to hand) to grease a baking dish. My larger Le Creuset is a good size - 26 x 18 cm.

I measure out 1 cup of chickpea flour and put it into a bowl with 1.5 cups of cold water. I whisk the two together until there are no floury lumps left. This takes a couple of minutes with a balloon whisk.

I then add the salt, chilli powder and turmeric and whisk briefly again. The chickpea tofu recipes I saw online - many of them, pretty much the same - all included turmeric, but also a whole teaspoon of salt. Personally I found that made the finished tofu far too salty for me so I have taken to using 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp of a hot spice instead. Bajan and Jerk Seasoning mixes work well instead of straight chilli powder and I also like piri piri seasoning. Experiment with whatever you have at the back of your spice cupboard!

I then bring the remaining 1.5 cups of water to the boil in a saucepan. As it starts to bubble, I pour in the chickpea flour mix and then stir gently over a low heat until the mixture becomes very thick. Like almost solid custard thick. This takes 15-20 minutes and it is necessary to keep stirring otherwise the mix just sticks to the pan.

Once the mix is so thick that the balloon whisk is effectively acting like a spoon, I remove the pan from the heat and pour the contents into the oiled dish. I then leave this to cool and set for 1-2 hours. It shrinks aways from the dish sides as it solidifies.

Once cold, I cut the tofu into six equal portions which are ready to eat. Some people eat it cold like this. I don't! Chickpea tofu is not as firm as soya tofu, but can be cooked in the same way and substituted into the same recipes. I have found that it becomes firmer when frozen and defrosted as more water can be pressed out as it defrosts. I freeze individual portions on a baking tray, then transfer them to a freezer container. This stops them sticking together so I can defrost one at a time as needed. I do the same with my slow cooker baked wholemeal rolls. A tofu portion takes about three hours to defrost at room temperature.

For my lunch, I cut a portion into 1-2 cm cuboids and fry these for a couple of minutes in a little oil. Then when they are piping hot, I crush them with a fork so the tofu resembles scrambled egg. I serve it with a fresh wholemeal roll and a dollop of sweet chilli sauce. Delicious!

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