If you’re looking for something a bit spicy, a little out-of-the ordinary, but still easy to make, then take a close look at crispy baked tofu with Indian curry sauce. Then start cooking because the sooner you make it, the sooner you get to enjoy it – and so you will.
Oil-free crispy baked tofu
I’ve been a fan of baking tofu forever because let’s face it, pan frying without oil always leaves the crispy edges in the pan and not on the tofu. And despite how much I love tofu bacon, whether it’s cut into strips, marinated and added with tomato chutney to make the ultimate TLC sandwich or thin sheet pan bacon bits for something like scalloped potatoes, I got the yen to make really crispy tofu because I just knew it would be perfect with Indian curry sauce.
After some experimenting, I finally landed on a crisping trick so simple that I’m almost embarrassed it didn’t occur to me sooner. Yep, arrowroot. That simple. Tossing tofu cubes (8 oz.) in 2 teaspoons of arrowroot creates makes what I consider the best oil free, baked crispy tofu.
What is arrowroot?
You’ll find arrowroot usually along with the baking power and corn starch in bigger supermarkets. Gluten free folks probably have it in their cupboard already because it is naturally gluten free. Arrowroot is a dried powder that comes from South American tubers, similar to yams or cassava.
Arrowroot is most often used as a substitute for corn flour including baking, but because I’m not much of a baker, I use arrowroot as a thickening ingredient. It’s my favorite
One of my favorite things about arrowroot is that is thickens more than flour or cornstarch, so if you are making sauces and gravies this means you won’t need to use as much. My guide is usually substituting only 1 teaspoon of arrowroot for every 2 of flour or cornstarch. Because arrowroot is so starchy, it can take on a glue-like consistency. It’s one reason to not use too much and it’s another that it’s sometimes used for jellies and jams. It doesn’t become cloudy like cornstarch.
A ‘sticky’ issue
I bring up the stickiness of arrowroot because as you lay your tofu cubes on the tray you will probably notice. If you get the pieces too close, they can stick together. If you try to turn them before they start to crisp, they will likely stick to your parchment paper or baking mat. Not to worry if this happens, as the tofu starts to brown, that stickiness will disappear and be replaced by a crispy outer layer. That's the intent here.
No marinade time required
Other than pressing the tofu for about 20 minutes, you only need to toss the tofu with lemon juice, Tamari or soy sauce and a bit of curry and garlic powder. This is just enough to give your tofu a bit of flavor that gets sealed in as the arrowroot does its job. I also used just a pinch of salt along with the arrowroot for some extra flavor, but that’s optional. Our intent here is to smother our crispy tofu pieces in heaps of curry sauce.
Making quick Indian curry sauce
I decided early on that I needed to qualify this recipe a bit by using the term ‘Indian’ because that term curry can get confused with those using Thai curry paste. This one isn’t that.
What is curry powder?
Curry powder is a spice blend. This means that depending on what brand you use (or if you make your own) you may get slightly different flavors for your curry sauce. If you go with a blend like Madras, you will get a lot more chilis so it may be spicy. One thing essential in all curry powders is turmeric (link to rice), but I added a bit more as well as a pinch of cayenne.
As your Indian curry sauce cooks, just give it a taste to decide if you want more curry powder or added cayenne. Same goes for the date paste or other liquid sweetener. You might opt for a sweeter sauce which is perfectly acceptable. Make it your own.
What kind of tomatoes?
Being a creature of habit, I tend to use canned cherry tomatoes in just about every sauce or stew. I find them a bit sweeter. It’s less important about the kind of canned tomato (cherry, roma, etc.) than what’s in the can with it. Use the best quality you can afford and check to see that there are no added ingredients and preferably, you want them in juice, not water. This ensures the best flavor you can get.
If you use canned cherry tomatoes, just break them up as they cook using a wooden spoon. For bigger tomatoes, you may want to chop them before you add them to your saucepan. It’s also possible to use 2 – 3 large fresh tomatoes in this recipe. Just chop them and add them to the sauce. Because your fresh tomatoes won’t be reduced like the canned, allow a few minutes to let them cook down so their flavor gets more intense.
Plate up crispy baked tofu, smother in Indian curry sauce, please
When I made this recipe, I knew I wanted it super saucy because it was the perfect dish to go with baked chips, rice or quinoa. I can safely say, it’s wonderful with my creation, turmeric coconut rice or cilantro lime quinoa. And let’s be honest, I’ve never met a potato mash I didn’t like. Yummy!
Cooking discoveries, even something so small as using arrowroot to crisp up tofu make me happy. Always experimenting, I can attest to a number of failures, some edible and some not, but those discoveries are also important – if we learn from them. And when you make a discovery that solves a problem, like wanting crispy tofu, without using oil, well, I’m all over that. In my mind it’s all about solving a problem which starts with your end goal. For example, if you want to eat healthier or you want to make that last step in giving up added oil or start exercising, get keep that goal in mind and start taking steps or making discoveries that will get you closer to it.
Attitude, Intent, discovery
Oprah Winfrey once stated that ‘the greatest discovery of all time is that a person can change his future my merely changing his attitude’. I’d expand on that idea just a bit to suggest that you need to identify what that ‘attitude’ is. If you want to be happier, then you need to decide what choices you can make that will indeed make you happier (or at least what you think will make you happier). If you want to eat healthier, take some time to identify what steps you can take that will get you there. Not fads or trends, check out the research and make the choices that make sense to you. Change can take time, so fuel it with little discoveries along the way. That way, there’s always something to celebrate. Peace.Print
Learn the secret for making oil-free crispy baked tofu and then smother it with easy Indian curry sauce for a deliciously healthy plant-based main dish.
Crispy baked tofu
- 8 oz. tofu, pressed and cut into bite-sized cubes
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. soy sauce or Tamari
- ½ tsp. curry powder
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 2 tsp. arrowroot
- ¼ tsp. salt
Indian curry sauce
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1-inch piece of ginger, minced (1 Tbsp.)
- 1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. ground turmeric
- 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
- 1 tsp. cayenne
- 2 tsp. curry powder
- 1 - 15 oz. (400 gm.) can tomatoes
- 1 cup (100 ml) water
- ½ tsp. date paste, agave syrup or another liquid sweetener
- 2 cups finely chopped spinach
Crispy baked tofu
- Cut the tofu into quarters and press the tofu for 20 minutes to remove excess moisture. To do this, lay the tofu between 2 plates and add something heavy to the top like a few cans or a bag of rice (or get those hand weights out). Alternatively use a tofu press.
- After the tofu has pressed, cut it into bite-sized pieces.
- Preheat the oven to 4000 F (2000 C). Line a baking try with parchment paper or a baking mat.
- In a medium bowl or deep plate, mix up the lemon juice, tamari, curry and garlic powder. Add the tofu pieces and toss to cover all the sides.
- Cover the pieces with 2 teaspoons of arrowroot and sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of salt (if using). Mix in the arrowroot so the pieces are covered. I tend to use my hand for this because I find it easier.
- Lay the cubes on the baking try, being sure that they are separated.
- Place them in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Toss them a bit and bake another 10 minutes until the tofu is crispy.
Indian curry sauce
- While the tofu is baking, take a saucepan and sauté the chopped onion until it begins to soften (about 5 minutes). Add water a tablespoon at a time if the onions begin to stick.
- Add the garlic, ginger, 1 1/2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. ground turmeric, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander, 1 tsp. cayenne and 2 tsp. curry powder. Mix everything and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add the tomatoes, water and date paste, keeping the pan at a slow simmer. Break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon if needed. Cover, and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes so the tomatoes can reduce a bit.
- Stir in the spinach and wilt it a bit. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
To serve, smother the baked tofu with the curry sauce and serve up with additional sauce.
- Prep time includes 20 minutes to press the tofu.
- Substitute any green or kale for the spinach.
- You will have extra curry sauce, so put it to good use by serving this dish with rice, quinoa or potatoes. Also, this recipe makes 2 servings, if you double the tofu, you will have enough sauce with the recipe as is.
- Category: Main Courses
- Cuisine: Indian
Keywords: crispy baked tofu with Indian curry sauce