Tofu Curry, inspired by the Box of Produce that Was

Finally, after a month or more of not being able to get our act together enough to order our bi-weekly box of black-market produce, we remembered. Tim brought home a bountiful box of summer fare yesterday, and as per the usual, its contents have informed our menu for the week.

This week brought an abundance of greens (SIX heads of green-leaf lettuce? We eat a lot of salad, but, really — we ended up giving away two heads of our share) and several lovely surprises: strawberries, bing cherries (these are like gold), a mango, a pineapple, avocados. Plus, some granny smith apples and mushrooms. Whenever I end up with both mushrooms AND apples, it’s time for Tofu Curry. It’s become one of our family staples, though one that shows up only once a month or so.

This is a recipe adapted from a classic southern cookbook, given to me by my mother. Written by a truly old-fashioned southern cook, the book defies even its 1982 publication date; recipes begin with phrases such as “cut up a hen” or “have your butcher bone a 6 or 7 lb. leg of lamb.” I admittedly haven’t made many recipes from the book; they tend a bit too much toward the gelatinous. But several years ago I tried out her recipe for chicken curry, and at some later point tried it with tofu. We actually like the tofu better, which is nice because tofu is cheaper and quicker (no pre-cooking involved). This is most certainly not a true Indian curry; it’s an Americanized, almost southern curry — basically a curry-flavored white sauce. But it’s good comfort food, and delicious topped with all the things that are typical of this type of dish: raisins, peanuts, coconut, pineapple, scallions, bacon, etc. The recipe:

Tofu (or chicken) Curry

  • 1/2 yellow onion, minced
  • 1 firm apple, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tsp (or more, to taste) curry powder
  • 3/4 cup whole milk or half-n-half
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 (14-oz) package extra-firm tofu, drained, excess water squeezed out, and diced (or 3 cups cooked, cubed chicken)
  • cooked rice, for serving

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat butter over medium heat. When foam subsides, add onions and apples and cook gently until soft, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt, pepper, and curry powder, and stir, cooking, for about 2 minutes (mixture will be dry; keep stirring and reduce the heat if it starts to brown). Slowly add the milk (or cream) and broth, whisking, and continue to stir until it thickens. Cover and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile sautée mushrooms in vegetable oil until they start to squeak and release their juices, about 5 minutes. Add to the cooked sauce, along with lemon juice and tofu. Adjust seasonings to taste, adding more salt or lemon juice if necessary. Serve over hot rice, topped with any or all of the following: chopped peanuts, dried coconut, raisins, chopped bananas, scallions, pineapple, diced ripe tomatoes, chopped bacon, and lemon wedges.


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