Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumnal Tofu Sweet Potato Curry

Today is the first day of fall, and it dawned coolish and gloomy. A bit of cloudiness is actually kind of nice after several days of warm weather, and it suits today's post, which features sweet potatoes, one my favorite autumn foods. I threw this together this past Sunday, after I'd been reading all day (which seems to happen a lot lately), and was at that point of zero ambition where popcorn seems like a perfectly balanced meal (ditto). On the other hand, it was one of those September evenings when there's just enough of a snap in the air to make you want something warm, comforting, and a little spicy that will make the kitchen smell nice.

In the end, I took the high road and decided to Actually Cook, but I had limited supplies and didn't feel like going to the store, which meant a menu determined by what was already in the house. A cursory inventory revealed tofu, two sweet potatoes, a bell pepper, some coconut milk, a jar of chili paste, and everyone's favorite ingredient: peanut butter! These struck me as the makings of a curry, and so they proved to be, with the added bonus of a bunch of leftovers, effectively keeping that whole popcorn idea at bay for a few days. (Please bear in mind that the whole point of this exercise is using what's already in the kitchen: pretty much any vegetables will work in something like this, and it's always fun to experiment with what's available.)

Autumnal Tofu Sweet Potato Curry
~ 1 tbsp. canola oil
~ 1 tsp. hot chili oil (optional, or you can use a shot of hot sauce if you don't have any)
~ 1 large onion, chopped
~ 2 tbsp. garlic, minced
~ 1 tbsp. ginger, grated
~ 1 tsp. Thai red chili paste
~ 1 tbsp. soy sauce
~ 1 tbsp. dried basil
~ 1 tsp. each: chana masala, curry powder, chili powder
~ 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
~ 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
~ 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
~ 1 bell pepper, sliced
~ 1/2 cup vegetable broth
~ 10 oz. mushrooms, sliced
~ 1 lb. extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
~ 3 cups lite coconut milk
~ 1/3-1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
~ 1 tbsp. cornstarch
~ 5 scallions, thinly sliced

~ In a large, deep pan or wok, heat the oil and saute the onion and garlic over medium heat for about 3 minutes.
~ Add the grated ginger, soy sauce and other seasonings; stir to combine thoroughly and cook another minute.
~ Add the cubed sweet potatoes, bell pepper and the broth; turn heat to low, cover the pan and cook about 10 minutes.
~ Raising the heat to high, add the mushrooms, tofu and 2 cups of the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat again, replace the cover, and cook another 10-15 minutes.
~ In a cup or beaker, mix the remaining cup of coconut milk with the cornstarch until smooth.
~ Add the scallions, peanut butter and cornstarch mixture to the curry and raise heat to medium. Combine thoroughly, and continue cooking another 5-10 minutes or so, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened. (If you happen to have some chopped, fresh basil--which I didn't--this would be the time to sprinkle it on.)
~ Remove from heat and serve over steamed rice (short grain brown is my personal favorite).


  1. This sounds delish..i would never have thought of using soy sauce with curry powder or chana masala.. i suppose you used it for its salty quaity?

    This has all my favourite ingredients - sweet potato, peanut butter, tofu,etc. etc.

  2. Yeah, it was basically a matter of using stuff that was already on hand; I used soy sauce because it was there, but a tsp. of salt would accomplish the same thing!