Monday, March 15, 2010

Week Seven: Burmese Tofu

We are lucky to have a local food monthly that's crammed with high-quality writing and photography as well as approachable recipes. This month, the theme is vegetarian food, and one of the recipes caught my attention: Burmese tofu.

When I looked through it, two thoughts came to mind: 1) I have all the ingredients in the house, yay! and 2) They should have called this Burmese polenta -- it's really just polenta made with chickpea flour. If you've never made polenta, you shouldn't be intimidated or impressed; it's also called cormeal mush, and if you can stir for 15 minutes, you can make it.

Granted, chickpea flour is not something everyone has on hand; I bought it so I could play around with making pakora (Indian vegetable fritters). You can sometimes find it in the natural foods aisle, or in an Indian grocery, where it will be called besan gram flour.

Just before I decided it was done.

I assumed I'd need to start with boiling water, so I put the pot on to heat while I minced two cloves of garlic, which was the only prep to speak of. But no, the reciped stated that the chickpea flour should be stirred into cold water, so I ditched my boiling water, cooled the pot and started over.

Whisking the flour into the water slowly to avoid lumps is really the only trick to making smooth polenta, so I employed that technique here, then added the spices and garlic, and stirred for 15 minutes. That's really all there is to it; after that, all you need to do is pour the stuff into a pan and let it cool.

Tower of chickpea power.

Deliciousness: A little on the salty and garlicky side, but overall, quite nice, firm and tasty. I had a few cubes straight from the pan, and a few in a salad. The recipe mentioned deep-frying as an option, too.

Difficulty: If you can stir, you can make this.

Do-over: Yes. It's tasty, easy, cheap and high in protein.

Details: Put 2 cups cold water in a medium saucepan and whisk in 1/2 cup chickpea flour. Add 1/2 t. turmeric, 1 t. salt, 1/4 t. ground ginger and 2 minced garlic cloves. Heat for 10 to 15 minutes over medium heat, stirring frequently at first and constantly at the end, until the mixture pulls away from the sides. Pour into a lightly oiled loaf pan and allow to cool.

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