Creamy Mango & Chickpea Curry Tofu

Creamy Mango & Chickpeas Curry Tofu
Creamy Mango & Chickpeas Curry Tofu, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Slow cooker (crock pot) is one of my favorite small kitchen appliances and definitely the best way to make dishes that come together only after long, long simmering. Putting everything into a slow cooker is so much easier than baby sitting a simmering stew bubbling away on the stove top! But: slow cooker is slow and if you’d like to have food ready for the dinner (supper) time, you need to remember to fill it up and turn it on 3 to 6 hours in advance. Once all is set and you press the start button, you are free to do whatever and enjoy the day knowing that your delicious dinner is simmering away.

I use my slow cooker often and I find that it works really well for things like stews, or dishes like Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala. Here is another example of a delicious curry that combines tofu, chickpeas and mango with some crushed tomatoes and coconut cream into a fragrant and very creamy curry.

Serve it with Saffron Brown Basmati Rice and you are done!

Creamy Mango & Chickpea Curry Tofu

What you’ll need: 

2 16 oz (454 g) tofu blocks, extra firm

28 oz (800g) can crushed tomatoes

2 15.5 oz (439g) cans chickpeas

1 cup mango chunks, frozen

15 oz (425g) can coconut cream

1 yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons curry powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

Fresh cilantro

Cooking spray

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Drain or press tofu for 30 minutes. I usually just leave the block of tofu in a strainer and flip the block over once. That’s usually enough for dishes that don’t need the tofu to be super dense and chewy.
  2. Cut the tofu into single bite chunks. From a 16 oz block I usually get 16 pieces so you can use that as a rough guideline.
  3. Line the inside of your slow cooker crock pot with a liner. You can skip this step of course – I just recommend it as it makes clean up an absolute breeze. Add the tofu, chickpeas that have been drained, and frozen mango chunks. You can use fresh as well but frozen mango chunks are just something I have on hand for my smoothies so it’s a bit of a staple in my kitchen.
  4. Add the spices and mix well.
  5. Dice the onion and slice the garlic. Place in a microwave safe dish, spray with cooking spray and microwave for 5 minutes. This will start the caramelization process of your aromatics and help them develop flavors.
  6. Pour the onions and garlic over the mango chunks.
  7. Pour in the crushed tomatoes and mix again.
  8. Add coconut cream and mix to incorporate.
  9. Put the lid on and turn your slow cooker on high for 3 to 4 hours.
  10. When playing, serve over rice, quinoa or couscous and top with fresh cilantro.

 

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Sunday Slow Cooker Jackfruit Stew

Jackfruit is the “It” ingredient of the plant-based and vegan cooking world. When I started blogging about my plant-based cooking exploration and experimentation, jackfruit was one of those exotic ingredients that I could only get in a local Asian grocery store.

My first jackfruit recipe were the tacos, which still make a frequent appearance at the dinner table because they take no time to make and are really, really good. But what I discovered soon after is that jackfruit is a lovely and realistic stand in for seafood, and you can make a fabulous crab-free crab cakes and clam-free New England clam chowder. I’ve also used jackfruit to make a very rich chickenless tikka masala – yummy!

So in order to feed this new hunger for jackfruit I would go to the Asian grocery store and buy a pile of canned green jackfruit in brine. But, two weeks ago I found out that Trader Joe’s now carries jackfruit suggesting that this amazing plant has gone mainstream.  I still bought more than I need just in case and immediately jumped on testing it out.

What I did with two cans of young (green) jackfruit in brine this time around is transform it into a mellow slow cooker (crockpot) stew infused with onions, garlic, Indian bay leaf, dry basil and ground cumin, as well as spiced up with a bit of red and green chili pepper. In case you are wondering about the Indian bay leaf, the tree it comes from belongs to the same family as the cinnamon tree so the flavor is a bit of a mix between bay leaf and cinnamon. So, if you don’t have Indian bay leaf on hand, you can simply use some regular bay leaf and a dash of cinnamon.

What I like to do when using canned vegetables is to dump the contents of the can out into a strainer and rinse well with lots of water. Then I let access water drain out for few minutes before using. In the case of jackfruit I also prefer to pull the bits of fruit apart, so what I end up with is a pile of pulled jackfruit ready to be flavored in any way I like.

My favorite slow cooker trick that I mentioned before, but is definitely worth repeating, is to combine the aromatics (onion, garlic, chili peppers, and spices), add some oil or cooking spray, and soften in the microwave for three to five minutes.  This helps them develop some caramelization and flavors that slow cooker is not able to achieve. Finally, these days I don’t use the slow cooker unless lined up with crockpot liners that make the cleanup an absolute breeze.

One last note: don’t worry if you don’t have a slow cooker. You can try making this stew on a stovetop in a Dutch oven type of pot or any other. If this is what you are doing remember to brown your aromatics in a bit of oil first then add the jackfruit, and lastly diced tomatoes. The benefit of using a slow cooker is that you set it and forget it, which frees you up to spend your Sunday doing whatever…

Slow Cooker Jackfruit Stew

What you’ll need:

2 cans (10 oz, 280 g) young jackfruit in brine

1 can (28 oz, 800 g) petit diced tomatoes

1 yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons garlic, crushed

1 red chili pepper, seeds and veins removed

1 green chili pepper, seeds and veins removed

1 tablespoon basil, dried

1 teaspoon ground cumin

2-3 Indian bay leaves

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

What you’ll do:

  1. Rinse and drain the jackfruit to clean out access brine. Pull the jackfruit pieces apart, removing any hard bits of core and seeds that may have been present (I leave softer bits of core and seeds in).
  2. Place the jackfruit in the crockpot that’s been lined with a liner.
  3. Remove the seeds and the veins from the chili peppers and diced them finely. Dice the onions and crush the garlic.
  4. Mix chili peppers, onion, garlic, dry basil, and ground cumin in a microwave safe bowl with the vegetable oil until everything is well coated. Microwave for 3-5 minutes.
  5. Add the aromatics to the crockpot as well as petit diced tomatoes and mix everything together.
  6. Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
  7. Serve over basmati rice, or even pasta. This stew is fragrant and just discretely spicy. You can definitely adjust the level of spiciness to fit your palate.
  8. Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017

Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala

veganchickentikkamassala
Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala with Saffron Brown Basmati Rice, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow
Chicken Tikka Masala has been on the menu of all Indian restaurants that I ever went to. But the origins of this dish are far from clear, some claiming that the dish was created in Glasgow, while others claim it originates from Punjab. Regardless of its origin and history, every Chicken Tikka Masala recipe I ever tasted had five things in common: juicy and tender chicken,a yogurt marinade, fragrant tomato simmer sauce, cream, and lots and lots of ghee (clarified butter).  These five things make Chicken Tikka Masala incredibly tasty, as well as elaborate to make, as well as very heavy on saturated fat and calories.

Well, I think the dish is overdue for a makeover, and there are many that agree with this view. While researching, I found many recipes that explore using tofu, meatless chicken strips, cauliflower, chickpeas, or other things as a chicken substitute, and I bet these all taste great. But, what I wanted to do here is take my new favorite ingredient, jackfruit, which I recently transformed into a fabulous Jackfruit Tacos, and see if it works in an Indian dish.

I also wanted to make a lengthy prep into something more manageable, so my recipe uses a slow cooker to do all the work of bringing jackfruit, spices and the tomato simmer sauce together. This also helps with the fat content, which I cut way, way down while maintaining the intensity of the flavors. The resulting recipe is straightforward but there are couple of tricks and tips to it.

First tip is to use a slow cooker liner. I am not sure if there are other brands out there, but I found that Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners work really well. The food gets cooked perfectly and the clean up is a breeze!

Second tip is to quick pre-cook your aromatics. In this case I use onions and garlic, and apply a method that I found in one of the America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks where you mix your aromatics with a bit of oil and microwave them for 5-6 minutes before adding them to the slow cooker. I’ve been using this method for more than a year now and apply it to get the aromatics (onions, garlic, carrots, celery,…) going, because I found that the slow cooker just can’t get them to develop the slightly caramelized flavor that a stow top cooking will do for you. However, microwaving with a bit of oil takes care of that and works perfectly!

Third tip is to rinse, drain and dry your jackfruit, assuming that you are starting from the canned version, and chopped it into small pieces. Do make sure that jackfruit is well rinsed and drained. Otherwise you will end up with Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala that may be too salty and too soupy.

So, once you have your jackfruit and your aromatics ready, it’s time to get cooking!

veganchickentikkamasala
Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala in a slow cooker, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala

What you’ll need:

2 cans (10 oz, 280 g) young jackfruit in brine

1 can (28 oz, 800 g) crushed tomatoes, no salt added

1 yellow onion, diced

2 tablespoons garlic, crushed

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 teaspoons ginger, freshly grated

2 teaspoons garam masala

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 cup cashews, raw

1/4 cup almond milk

cooking spray

fresh cilantro

What you’ll do:

  1. Place diced onions, garlic (I use the one from the jar, as I shared in my Oh My! It’s Vegan Shepherd’s Pie! post) and tomato paste in a microwave safe bowl. Spray the aromatics with cooking spray, mix well and microwave on high for 5-6 minutes. Be careful when you handle the bowl, it will be hot so I recommend using oven mittens.
  2. Line your slow cooker with the liner, and add the can of crushed tomatoes, jackfruit that has been rinsed, dried and chopped to small pieces, as well as all the spices and the microwaved aromatics. Mix well. Cover and turn your slow cooker on “HIGH” for 4 hours.
  3. While the slow cooker is going, start soaking the cashews in water. Let them sit for 4 hours in the refrigerator and once your slow cooker is done take the cashews out, dump the water out and place the cashews and almond milk in a blender. What you are doing here is making vegan Cashew Cream, and this amount of cashews should give you more than enough to make this Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala into a creamy perfection. However, do take it easy when adding Cashew Cream and what I usually do is add the cream one tablespoon at the time, mix Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala well, and check for flavor. I keep adding the Cashew Cream until I am happy with the flavor, color and consistency. Don’t worry if you discover that you made a bit too much Cashew Cream, you can always use it to top your backed potatoes, or turn it into Vegan Herb Mayo.
  4. When  ready to serve, plate your Vegan Chicken Tikka Masala, or should I call it Jackfruit Tikka Masala?, with some Saffron Brown Basmati Rice and top it with fresh cilantro.

Note: Cilantro does tend to go flat in few days from purchase so one way to keep it fresh for longer is to rinse it out soon after you get back from the grocery store, put them in a glass jar like you would a bunch of flowers, and keep them on your kitchen counter top – which is a trick I picked up watching Rachel Ray. Also when it comes to cilantro, basil and parsley, I prefer to use my kitchen scissors to cut them up!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2017