The Cooking Chronicles: Curried Tofu Scramble with Chapati

I am one of those people who is afraid to cook without a recipe, at least for dishes I am trying my hand at for the first time. But after sampling my coworker’s curried tofu scramble (which I thought could pass for scrambled eggs), and asking her for the verbal recipe, she convinced me that the four ingredients (plus spices) would be difficult to mess up.

She had eaten the dish with chapati, an Indian flatbread. I did not get the chance to ask her for that recipe, but located one online that didn’t look too difficult. Using our brand spanking new food processor (which helped greatly), combining the whole wheat flour, salt, warm water and oil into dough was a snap. Once we had refrigerated the dough for the minimum thirty minutes, Mack proceeded to roll the dough out into flat discs, while I preheated the pan.

Mack rolling out dough

We’ve never made flatbread before, and I have to tell you I was almost giddy when I watched the chapati balloon. For some reason, I didn’t think such a simple ingredient base, preparation, and short time span would actually translate into a successful product.

A ballooning chapati!

Once the chapati were done, we set to make the curried tofu (having only one usable non-stick pan definitely slowed down our dinner preparation that night). To two softened medium onions, we crumbled in one package of extra firm tofu, and made sure to cook it until all of the tofu’s liquid had evaporated. We added turmeric and curry powder (completely forgetting about the salt and pepper), and then two medium diced tomatoes. Lastly, we threw in a handful of chopped parsley (my coworker had recommended cilantro, but we did not have any on hand).

The result? Not bad for a first try on both recipes. The chapati was much more dry than my coworker’s had been (expected for a variety of reasons – technique, old flour, etc.), but was all right. The curried tofu was also okay, with a notable texture unlike any tofu I ever had before, but lacked a certain something beyond salt and pepper. Mack commented that the tomatoes made the dish for him.

Curried Tofu Scramble (a shade of radioactive yellow!)

After we made this, I read a post over at the Little Red Kitchen that may help us with future scrambles. Anyway, I love a recipe that can be made using pantry and fridge staples, and this is one that we may play around with yet.

The Cooking Chronicles: Spicy Tofu and Pork

Instead of The Cooking Chronicles I feel like I should create a sub-category containing all of my tofu-related experiments titled “The Tofu Trials”. At any rate, a Company’s Coming Cooking at Home spicy pork and tofu recipe was my third attempt to gradually introduce tofu into our diet, a slow road to my eventual hope of edging Mack’s tolerance for tofu into a fondness.

Armed with Ying Fat tofu and Four Whistle Farms ground pork, I set to make the quick stir-fry dish. I thought the half pound of pork would be overwhelmed by all of the tofu, but the proportion was just right, really highlighting how economical the dish is to make, so long as the cook’s pantry is stocked.

The result? A textured dish full of subtle heat with just the right amount of sweetness for balance.  I would double the sauce mixture next time, however, as there was only enough to coat the ingredients in the pan, and not enough to drizzle on our accompanying rice. And while Mack would have preferred more meat, this was his favourite of the three tofu dishes we’ve tried thus far.

Spicy Tofu and Pork

Tofu Five Ways: Padmanadi

I shouldn’t have suggested another buffet (my third in six days) for a catch-up supper with Bettina, but a monthly event put on by the Vegetarians of Alberta at Padmanadi (10626 97 Street) was too irresistible to walk away from. Buffets in general are a great way to economically sample a multitude of dishes, but in particular, this “niche” cuisine of vegan food (in addition to no meats, no dairy or animal byproducts such as honey or gelatin can be used).

Padmanadi has quite the cult following in Edmonton and is very well-known for their vegetarian cuisine. The t-shirts for sale at the front of the restaurant, with the words “we (heart) padmanadi” were proof enough to me that their popularity had reached a critical mass.

“we (heart) padmanadi”

The restaurant was packed, but table turnover was fast – I’m sure the sauna-like conditions had something to do with the dine-and-depart mentality. The servers had big smiles plastered on their faces, and it was clear they were enjoying the work – their cheerful demeanours demonstrated what restaurant service strives to be – carefree but efficient.

We grabbed large plates off the communal table, loaded up with some rice, and proceeded to taste each of the eight vegan dishes. Bettina was disappointed with the small variety, but given that this was a fundraiser for the non-profit Vegetarians of Alberta, I didn’t mind. Beyond recognizable spring rolls, green beans, and stir-fried deep-fried tofu, I struggled with the tofu stand-in dishes of sweet and sour “pork”, deep fried “chicken” balls, “chicken” curry and stir-fried “beef” and vegetables.  

The vegan line-up

My plate

Bettina really liked the rich, coconut-milk infused curry, and both of us agreed the spring rolls were great. While we were stuffed at the end of our meal (two or three plates later), I couldn’t help but think the tofu, though disguised in sweet sauce, a battered shell, or adopting a similar consistency to beef, was still tofu. It was an interesting experience, but I’m much too used to the variety of meat to limit my consumption to tofu and vegetables.

Padmanadi Vegetarian Restaurant
10626 97 Street NW
(780) 428-8899
Tuesday to Sunday 4-10pm