Matar paneer, the classic curry on which this veganised version is based, is one of India’s darlings. It’s what my aunties cook whenever I visit. It’s what is served by the pool to 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. I was, therefore, a bit fearful to replace the beloved paneer with tofu for fear of losing some of the richness, but I’m here to tell you that it works brilliantly, in part because the cashews blended into the sauce bring a velvet creaminess to which paneer would happily tip its hat.
Matar tofu (pea, cashew and tofu curry)
You’ll need a stick blender or blender to whizz the cashews into a smooth enough paste.
Prep 10 min
Cook 35 min
40g cashew nuts
150g ripe cherry tomatoes
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 fat garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2cm x 2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 x 450g block extra-firm tofu, cut into 1½cm cubes
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes – I like Mutti’s Polpa
1½ tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground kashmiri chilli
½ tsp ground turmeric
150g frozen petit pois
Rotis and vegan yoghurt, to serve
Put the cashews in a small heatproof bowl and pour over 100ml just-boiled water. Leave to soak for five minutes, then put in a blender and blitz to a paste.
Put a plate to one side of the stove top (on which to put the cooked tomatoes and mangetouts later), and put a teaspoon of oil in a wide frying pan on a medium to high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the mangetouts, let them crackle fiercely for a minute, then toss, leave to blister on the other side for another minute, and tip out on to the plate. Put the pan back on the heat, furnish it with another teaspoon of oil and, once that’s hot, add the cherry tomatoes and leave to blister for a few minutes. Once they’re blackening in spots, tip out on top of the mangetouts.
Put two more tablespoons of oil in the same pan and turn down the heat to medium. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook, stirring, for about eight minutes, until it starts softening. Add the garlic and ginger, cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, then add the tofu, tinned tomatoes, salt and 200ml water (or about a half-filled empty tomato tin). Stir to combine, then leave to bubble away for 10 minutes; if the mix starts to spit, turn down the heat a little.
Add the cumin, coriander, chilli and turmeric, and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Add the cashew paste and 100ml water (or a quarter-tinful), mix again, then return the blistered mangetouts and tomatoes to the pan. Stir in the frozen peas and simmer for a further five minutes.
Decant into a large bowl and serve with a pile of soft charred rotis and some good vegan yoghurt on the side.