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Lucky Comestible 4 (4): Balti Tofu and Chickpeas in a Thick Creamy Coconut Sauce

[I thought it would be fun to run a little series over here at DDD: I’ll profile one one of my favorite foods, or a food that I’ve recently discovered and enjoyed, over several days.  For this fourth edition, I’m focusing on Coconut. The series is presented on an occasional (and entirely arbitrary) basis, before I move on to the next lucky comestible. This is the fourth entry on coconut.]


Remember the Ziggy cartoon character from the 80’s? (Well, I suppose that only applies to those of you already born in the 80s. . . sheesh, am I old, or what??).  One of my favorite strips involved the Rotund One scrabbling across the surface of a globe and yelling at the top of his lungs: “Stop the World! I Want to Get Off!”  At the time, with my typical adolescent insouciance and belief in my own immortality, I saw the cartoon as an amusing, wry comment on the state of my (then) parent-dominated existence.  (It may be true, youth is wasted on the young. . . or was that just “youth are wasted”? I can never remember.)

These days, I’m as old as my parents were then, and it seems there’s no stopping the world; I’m sure ol’ Ziggy would be itching to jump. I certainly don’t need to enumerate all the lovely global challenges and crises we’re facing; I’d guess you’ve got your own list of woes (and top of the list for us Canadians: it’s our election day today, and, given the choices we’ve got, it doesn’t look like things will be picking up any time soon). 

This past weekend, as fellow Canadians know, was our Thanksgiving.  At first, I felt a little downcast about it all; suffering with an impertinent and intrusive cold (courtesy of the HH–that guy’s just just gotta share everything), I was moping after we canceled our trip to my friend Gemini I’s cottage for the holiday.  I’d been looking forward to spending time with good friends, clinking glasses in front of the fireplace as The Girls romped and gamboled outside in the woods. Instead, I spent the day in my jammies, semi-comatose in front of the television, while the HH and The Girls romped and gamboled without me at the nearby trail.

But you know what?  The weather was glorious here in Toronto, gifting us with just the kind of Thanksgiving weekend for which I always long: temperate, radiantly sunny, clear as the squeals of pure delight you’ll hear when you tickle a baby’s belly.  Knowing that the dank, icy winds and pelting snow of winter will pounce upon us before we can even holler, “Hey, pass the pumpkin pie!” made me realize: instead of being under the weather, I should appreciate the weather; in fact, I ought to appreciate all the good things in my life right now.

Wait. . . am I being too maudlin?  A bit too mushy?  Too. . . Oprah?  Yet there really is so much to be grateful for, from the HH (11 years and counting) to The Girls (five treats so far tonight and counting) to a steady job (far too many years. . . I’ve stopped counting) and many dear friends with whom I’ve shared the best and worst of all of the above. 

In the end, it turned out to be a very thankful Thanksgiving.  As I approach my one-year blogiversary, I’m perpetually grateful that I discovered this world of food and writing and wit and fellow bloggers. It’s truly a privilege to be able to choose any recipe I wish, then simply go to the store and purchase the ingredients so I can whip it up, photograph it, and write about it. And if the dish doesn’t work out, I can draft an amusing post about the kitchen calamity, or a cautionary tale on what not to do–or I can simply throw it away.

If you’ve been preoccupied by the woes of the world lately, try this dish.  No, of course it won’t actually change anything. But it’s warm, it’s comforting, it’s hearty, it’s nourishing, and it’s delicious, all in one.  A little forkful will make you feel cosy and content, at least for an instant.  Then, you can dig in, spoon it up, and repeat as many times as necessary.  

Mum, we’re thankful for all those pats and treats you give us.  But of course, six would be better than five.”

Given the high legume content in this dish–both from the chickpeas and the tofu–I thought it would be the perfect submission to Susan’s event, My Legume Love Affair, this month hosted by Sra at When My Soup Came Alive.  This month’s prize is Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Cookbook–so if you’re interested, get those entries in!  You have until October 31st.

Balti Tofu and Chickpeas in a Thick Creamy Coconut Sauce

adapted from The New Indian Cooking Course

The recipe is my adaptation from my first cookbook on Indian cooking, The New Indian Cooking Course by Manisha Kanani and Shehzad Husain.  As a newbie in Indian cooking, I bought the book because of its step-by-step instructions and accompanying step-by-step photos.  The dishes in it have all been spectacular, too.

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) ground almonds

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) dessicated coconut

2/3 cup (160 ml.) coconut milk

1/3 cup (80 ml.) unsweetened soy or almond milk

1 Tbsp. (15 ml.) fresh lemon juice

1-1/2 tsp. (7.5 ml.) ground coriander

1 tsp. (5 ml.) chili powder

1 tsp. (5 ml.) crushed garlic

1-1/2 tsp. (7.5 ml.) freshly grated ginger pulp

1 tsp. (5 ml.) sea salt

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) extra virgin olive oil

1 pound (500 g.) firm or extra-firm tofu, diced into 1 inch (2.5 cm.) cubes

3 green cardamom pods

1 bay leaf

1 cup (250 ml.) cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans)

1 dried red chili, crushed (about 1 tsp. crushed chili)

2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) chopped fresh cilantro

In a large nonstick frypan, heat the almonds and coconut over medium heat until the coconut browns slightly.  Remove to a medium bowl and add the coconut milk, soy milk, lemon juice, corainder, chili powder, garlic, ginger and salt; mix well.

Heat the oil over medium heat in the frypan.  Add the tofu and cook, tossing the cubes to cook all sides evenly, until the tofu is browned, about 10 minutes.  Just before tofu is ready, add the cardamom and bay leaf and cook for another minute or two.  Add the chickpeas and toss to coat.

Pour the coconut milk mixture over the tofu and chickpeas, and add the crushed chili and cilantro.  Cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the liquid has evaporated somewhat.  Uncover and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened.  Serve over steamed rice.  Makes 4-6 servings.  May be frozen.

Other posts in this series:

Lucky Comestible 4 (1): Cabbage T’horin

Lucky Comestible 4 (2): GF Coconut Mini Loaves or Cupcakes

Lucky Comestible 4(3): Savory Veggies with Rice and Coconut

Lucky Comestible 4(5): Raspberry Coconut Coffee Cake

Other DDD Coconut Posts:

Mrs. K’s Date Cake (coconut topping)

Tropical Lemon-Coconut Muffins (with coconut and avocado)

Aloo Masala (Potato Curry with Coconut)

Polish Lemon Cake (lemon cake with gooey coconut topping)

Anzac Biscuits (the Australian tradition)

Coconut Recipes on Other Blogs:

From Lisa at Lisa’s Kitchen:

Shredded Beet and Dill Coconut Salad
Coconut Soup with Mushrooms
Toasted Fresh Coconut and Tomato Chutney
Coconut Milk Muffin Scones

From Bee and Jai at Jugalbandi:

Chakka Madhura Curry (a recipe that’s 1000 years old!!!)
Olan (This is Version 2–check their blog for Version 1 as well) 
From Cheryl at Gluten-Free Goodness:
Nanaimo Bars (delectable Canadian confection!)
[If you are reading this post on a site that is not Diet, Dessert and Dogs, it has been plagiarized.  Feel free to give that scoundrel a piece of your mind!]



26 comments to Lucky Comestible 4 (4): Balti Tofu and Chickpeas in a Thick Creamy Coconut Sauce

  • I love your post on giving thanks! what a great reminder. The recipe looks great, too. I’m soy free but will have to find some other use for the sauce =)


  • Can’t say I know the ziggy character – wish I could say it is because of my youth but I suspect it might be a north American thing! But I have heard the ‘stop the world I want to get off’ scream too many times – and elections just seem to get worse and worse and make me feel more cynical about the world! hope your results give some cause for thanks rather than the grinding of teeth! Failing that you might need to whip up another batch of that tofu in spicy coconut sauce which looks exceedingly good 🙂


  • One of my favorite places in the world is Thailand. Why? It’s because so many of their dishes are coconut-based. Your tofu dish sounds amazing (yes, I know it’s Indian, not Thai, but still!)


  • This sounds like all kinds of amazing! Anything with chickpeas gets my vote, and the whole dish sounds so spicy and delicious.


  • bex

    oh the coconut never stops. I love it!


  • I just saw the word chickpea and I was sold =)


  • I’m sorry you had to cancel your trip, but it’s great that you were able to shift your perspective on the whole thing and enjoy the weather (same here – it’s been an eerie 22c most afternoons…Indian Summer?). I’m so thankful to have found your blog!
    I kid you not when I say I think this will be my new favorite dish – Thai is the best!


  • Celine

    I’m so happy to hear your T-giving turned out better than you first expected it. your cold’s all gone now, right? I hope so.


  • this has to be one of the most amazing dishes i have seen in a long time. it looks so yummy i can’t wait to try your recipe!


  • I LOVE ZIGGY!!!! :0)

    So glad that Thanksgiving turned out to be enjoyable – hooray!!

    No worries – NOBODY can be “too Oprah” (that’d be frightening, haha).

    Loooove chickpeas. Holy yum.


  • Good advice for all of us. I’m glad you enjoyed your Thanksgiving. I’ll bet I could use all chickpeas and this would still taste incredible.


  • fortheloveofguava

    Only about 50% of my attempts at Indian turn out edible. I’ll have to check out this book. Thanks!


  • Celine,

    Cold’s on the way out. . . not quite gone, yet.

    I’m sure you could use chickpeas and it would be great. The HH didn’t particularly fancy the tofu (he’s not a fan in general), and I thought it was better the second day, once the tofu absorbed more of the flavor. You could also use a combination of chickpeas and another legume (I’m thinking lentils) for a different twist on it.

    The book really helped me when I first started cooking Indian. I loved the step-by-step instructions! And almost everything I’ve tried from it has been delicious. 🙂


  • ooooh, this looks yummy as always 🙂 sorry to hear about your cold, i’ve got one too, and while it’s run it’s course pretty quickly i still feel like i’m blowing my brains out…


  • sra

    Reading your post made me think of what I feel everyday: There’s so much to be grateful for but we always want more and wish “now” is “better”.

    I find it v. interesting that the recipe doesn’t ask for any grinding. This is so much the kind of curry that we in India would be whipping out our grinders for – it’s pretty tiresome. Thanks for the entry.


  • There’s plenty of reality to be down about, but it’s not “mushy” to put the brakes on. It’s all about balance. (I know, easier said…)

    This curry looks simply fabulous!


  • This sounds and looks fabulous! Another one for me to bookmark! You are going to have to start charging me soon, for all of your recipes that fill my recipe book with 🙂


  • We did have ridiculously nice weather this weekend. It was like a storybook thanksgiving! Thanks for the recipe, it looks great!


  • Happy Thanksgiving! Your Balti Tofu looks exquisite!


  • I can imagine the creammy sweetpea taste with nice tofu. Thks for sharing this recipe.


  • This looks absolutely excellent. I’m a huge fan of coconut curries, and I like the fact that there is plenty of sauce to go around. *Slurp*


  • i really wanted to make this tonight but i don’t have all the ingredients 🙁


  • this looks like i really hearty dish. chickpeas always fill me up. the coconut sauce sounds really rich and delicious.


  • Your words are so beautiful and full of wisdom… Thank you for the beautiful recipe and the powerful reminder of the importance to be thankful for all that is still so right in the world…


  • wasn’t sure where to put this so you’d catch it, but if you ended up making something with lentils, even a picture would be awesome! and it could be done tomorrow, as I’m not going to get around to posting the roundup until the pm… shh 🙂 or just email me tri2cook [at] gmail [dot] com!


  • […] try my hand at some other spicy dishes to keep my heart going… I’ve had this one from Diet, Dessert and Dogs in my “to make” list for awhile now. So… wish me luck… and I’ll try […]

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