Tofu & chick pea curry with quinoa

All that traveling left me exhausted and without much to cook upon returning to D.C. I have been subsisting on Starbucks croissants and egg salad sandwiches. This evening, as I saw the bottom of my Trader Joe’s Corn and Roasted Pepper soup carton, I decided it was time to get back in the game.

I’m still on deadline for a magazine piece coming out next week, so this meal had to be quick. This recipe is a take on my mom’s chicken curry, but I cooked it without meat and without the time and attention she gives hers. It was still really great (Sorry, Mom!). The result is a creamy, sweet but well spiced sauce thickened by beans. The tofu adds a nice crunch and an extra kick of protein.

I got home and took three immediate steps to get the curry going:

1. Drain and cube the 7 oz. of firm tofu and place it between a towel with a heavy object on it to remove excess liquid. You need to get that moisture out to replace it with the flavors of your dish.

2. Get 1 medium onion chopped and frying in 2 tb. oil. Here’s that tutorial on how to brown onions.

3. Drain 1 can of garbanzo beans and bring it to a boil with 1 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. red chili powder, 1/2 tsp. turmeric and 1 tsp. whole cumin. Let this simmer.

With all that going, I took a break to finish up some work. About 10 minutes later, I strolled back into the kitchen and finished up the recipe:

4. Add 1/2 cup tomato sauce to the onions once they are golden brown. Saute until the oil separates from the tomatoes, add 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. ground cumin and grind into a paste. Add a few tablespoons of water as needed.

5. After the beans start to crack (about 15 minutes), take them off the stove and mash the mixture partly to create a thick consistency like stew. Add this to the onion-tomato mixture.

6. Add 1 tbsp. garam masala or allspice powder and a squeeze of lemonto the curry. Let it cook on low heat for 20 minutes.

7. Meanwhile, bring 1 cup of quinoato a boil in 2 cups of water. Simmer with the lid on for 10 to 15 minutes, until the liquid is absorbed and the beads are transparent with a germ lining.

8. Saute the tofu in a nonstick pan on four sides until it gets some color. This will add some crunch, hold your tofu together and help the sauce stick to the tofu.

9. Mix the tofu into the curry and serve with quinoa on the side.

My mom may be horrified that I didn’t serve it with white rice, but I liked using a lighter grain that didn’t get in the way of the curry and added another element of bite.

I stocked half of the curry in the freezer and portioned out the rest of the leftovers with the quinoa for lunch for the rest of the week. (Serves 4 to 6.)

Bye bye, Starbucks!

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