Tofu Achari “Paneer” – Tofu & Veggies in Achari Sauce made with tomatoes, onions and Indian Pickling spices. Add chickpeas or more vegetables to make soy-free. Vegan Gluten-free Recipe. Nut-free option
Achaar/Achar means Pickle. Many Indian pickles use special blends of whole or ground spices to make a flavor profile that is called Achari (like pickle). Oil is generally the medium for pickling used in Indian rather than vinegar. Spices tempered in oil and mixed with fruits like mango and veggies like carrots, cauliflower, chilies etc make deliious strong flavored pickles that are often served as condiments with meals. The spice blends vary with region. Some specific blends when added to a sauce, give it an amazing pickle-like flavor (not tangy or vinegary, but the flavors from the spices like mustard seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds etc).
This Achari Tofu is a vegan version of the Achari Paneer which is a tomato onion sauce spiced with pickle spices. For a quick version you can also add some Indian mango pickle into the sauce, blend and use. Veggies like peppers, cauliflower, broccoli. carrots and others work really well with this sauce. In this Achari Tofu, I use bell peppers and broccoli with the tofu. This Achari Paneer Sauce is a simple and quick sauce but packs so much Flavor punch. Add just veggies or some beans to make without Tofu.
More Curries from the blog
- Butter Tofu – Tofu in Butter Masala Sauce
- Hemp-Tofu in Pasanda Sauce
- Gobi Musallam – Whole Roasted Cauliflower in Makhani Sauce
- Instant Pot Butter Chiken (Soycurls + chickpeas)
- Palak Tofu – Tofu in Spinach Curry.
So Saucy! Like most well spiced sauces, the flavor develops more and more over time and the dish has stronger flavors after a few hours. This dish doesnt use/need garam masala as there is plenty flavor from the whole spices. If you make this or any of the other Indian Mains from the blog, do let me know in the comments how everything worked out! Some recipes can need a bit of planning and spice pantry. I do try to simplify as much as possible without losing the traditional flavor profile.
And while you are here, do see this report on what was found inside a Sperm whale’s stomach and body from the ocean.
Tofu Achari "Paneer" - Tofu & Veggies in Achari Sauce
Achari Masala blend:
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) each of mustard seeds , fenugreek seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds (use whichever seeds you have, see notes for sub options)
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) red pepper flakes
- 8 oz (7 to 8 oz) tofu , pressed and cubed
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 small onion finely chopped
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 inch of ginger or 1 tbsp minced
- 1 hot green chile , seeds removed to reduce heat, or 1/4 of a green bell pepper
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) paprika
- 1/2 tsp (0.5 tsp) turmeric
- 2 large tomatoes or 1.5 cups canned
- 3/4 tsp (0.75 tsp) salt
- 1 tsp sugar or maple
- 1/2 cup (122.5 g) non dairy yogurt or use vegan sour cream or cashew cream made with 1/3 cup cashews blended with 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup (125 ml) water
- 2 cups (298 ml) vegetables such as thinly sliced bell pepper , broccoli (small florets), peas, zucchini
- 1/4 tsp (0.25 tsp) nigella seeds optional for garnish, cilantro for garnish
- Heat the spices (except red pepper flakes) on a skillet over medium heat until toasted or until fennel seeds start to change color. Mix in the pepper flakes and take off heat. Pulse once in a blender or use a mortar and pestle to break some of the spices. Reserve 1/2 tsp of the mix for garnish.
- Prep the tofu. You can use just pressed tofu, or crisped in oil for a few mins, or baked with spices like my Butter tofu.
- Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt and cook until golden. Pulse the garlic, ginger and chile in a blender with a tbsp of water to make a paste. Add the paste to the onion skillet. Alternatively, mince them and add to the onion.
- Cook for a minute. Add the Achari spice mix(from step 1), coriander, turmeric and mix in. Cook for another minute.
- In the same blender blend the tomatoes until smooth and add to the skillet. Alternatively use chopped tomatoes.
- Cook until the tomato mixture is well roasted. Add salt, sugar and non dairy yogurt and mix in.
- Add water, tofu, veggies (except broccoli) and mix in. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt, flavor and heat. [Add some garam masala for added flavor if needed or add 1-2 tsp mango pickle minus the mango at this point add some esp if omitting some of the spices or for some more flavor burst)]. Add broccoli and mix in. Reduce heat to medium low, Cover and cook for 3 minutes so broccoli is well steamed but not mushy. Uncover and cook for another minute to reduce sauce if needed. Take off heat.
- Garnish with the reserved achari spices, more nigella seeds (and some cayenne for additional heat) and cilantro. Serve with flatbread or with rice or grains.