A tandoor is a cylindrical oven used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. Usually heated with coal, the inside temperature can reach well beyond 800 degrees Fahrenheit , giving foods a dry-roasted and smoky taste. Indian chefs cook chicken and bake breads such as naan and roti in the tandoor.
Nick and I used to eat lot of Indian food when we went to school together. My favorite dish was chicken tikka masala, which is tandoor-roasted chicken cooked in a creamy tomato sauce. I don’t really miss the meat, but I sure miss its complex flavor, which was why I jumped on this recipe when I saw it.
This recipe calls for extra-firm tofu. I find them packed in water in the refrigerated produce section of my market. Make sure you drain the tofu well and blot it with a kitchen or paper towel to remove any excess water. You want the tofu to be as dry as possible to get the prettiest grill marks on them.
The tofu is coated with this incredibly aromatic blend of spices with smoked paprika, turmeric, coriander and cumin. The mixture isn’t hot, it’s smoky from the cumin and lemony from the coriander. The red smoked paprika and yellow turmeric give this dish a vibrant orange color.
The grilled tofu is served with a creamy yogurt sauce. The cool sauce is a nice contrast to the warm and spicy tofu. The recipe calls for any plain yogurt, but I chose a Greek version, which was thicker and slightly tangier.
Making this dish on a grill pan gives it nice grill marks, but you can also fry up the tofu in a skillet with a couple tablespoons of oil.
I served the tofu with some basmati rice and a side of boiled sugar snap peas. You can also eat it with naan or some couscous mixed with nuts and dried apricot.
This dish made my house smell like the Indian restaurants I used to eat at, reminding me of all the great food I had at those places. If you are a fan of Indian cuisine, you will have to give this meatless main dish a try.
Adapted from Eating Well, May/June 2010
- Smoked paprika, 2 teaspoons
- Salt, 1 teaspoon, divided
- Ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon
- Ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon
- Ground turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon
- Extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons
- Garlic, minced, 4 cloves
- Lime juice, 1 tablespoon
- Extra-firm tofu, 1 14-ounce pack, drained
- Non-fat plain yogurt, 2/3 cup
- Cilantro, chopped, 3 tablespoons
Preheat grill pan to medium-high.
Combine paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, cumin, coriander and turmeric in a small bowl. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, lime juice and the spice mixture. Cook, stirring until sizzling and fragrant about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
Slice tofu block into six slices; pat dry with paper towels. Brush about 2/3 of the spiced oil onto both sides of the tofu slices and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Oil the grill rack and grill the tofu until golden and heated through.
Combine the remaining spiced oil with the yogurt.
Serve the tofu with the yogurt sauce, garnished with cilantro.