Matar paneer, the classic curry on which this vegan version is based, is one of India’s favorites. This is what my aunts cook every time I visit. This is what is served by the pool to the guests at Gujarati weddings. And it’s on every menu in every (OK, most) Indian restaurant in the UK for a reason: everyone loves it. So I was a bit worried about replacing the expensive paneer with tofu lest I lose some richness, but I’m here to tell you it works wonders, in part because the cashews mixed in with the sauce bring an unctuous velvety to which paneer would be happy to take his hat off.
Matar tofu (pea curry, cashew nuts and tofu)
You will need an immersion blender or blender to grind the cashews into a smooth enough paste.
Preparation 10 minutes
To cook 35 minutes
40g cashew nuts
150g ripe cherry tomatoes
1 large onionpeeled and finely chopped
3 large garlic clovespeeled and crushed
2cm x 2cm fresh gingerpeeled and grated
1 block of 450 g extra-firm tofucut into 1½ cm cubes
1 can of 400 g crushed tomatoes – I like Polpa of Mutti
1½ tsp fine sea salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1½ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground Kashmiri chili pepper
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
150g frozen peas
Roast and vegan yogurtto serve
Put the cashews in a small heatproof bowl and pour 100ml of just boiled water. Leave to soak for five minutes, then put in a blender and grind to a paste.
Place a plate next to the stove (on which to put the cooked tomatoes and mange-tout later) and put a teaspoon of oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the snow peas, let them crackle violently for a minute, then stir, let them blister on the other side for another minute and turn them over on the plate. Return the pan to the heat, drizzle with another teaspoon of oil, and once hot, add the cherry tomatoes and let bubble for a few minutes. Once they blacken in places, pour them over the mangetouts.
Put another two tablespoons of oil in the same skillet and lower the heat to medium. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, for about eight minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the garlic and ginger, cook and stir for a few minutes, then add the tofu, tinned tomatoes, salt and 200ml water (or about a half-filled empty tomato tin). Stir to combine, then boil for 10 minutes; if the mixture starts to spit, lower the heat a little.
Add the cumin, coriander, chilli and turmeric and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the cashew paste and 100ml of water (or a quarter of a can), mix again, then return the blistered snow peas and tomatoes to the pan. Stir in frozen peas and simmer for another five minutes.
Decant into a large bowl and serve with a pile of charred soft roasts and a nice vegan yogurt on the side.