Fried Bhindi Masala with Spiced Tomato and Tofu

Bhindi Tofu

Another week, another culinary challenge from my friends: make something using okra, tofu, and cream cheese.

My immediate inclination with okra was to do something Southern. “Is there even another way to cook okra?” I wondered.

Yes, I learned after doing a little research. Yes there is.

Okra – also known in Hindi as bhindi – is actually a relatively common ingredient in Indian food, stewed or stir fried with spices and served with rice or lentils. And thus the idea for this bizarrely tasty recipe was born.

I opted to retain some of that classical Southern preparation and fry okra in beer batter – but only after stuffing it with a zesty garam masala-packed cream cheese filling. Served with a tomato and tofu sauce that is full of robust flavors and spices, and surprisingly filling, it made for quite a delicious meal.

This recipe is an odd fusion of Indian and Southern flavors and styles, but it totally works.

Fried Bhindi Masala with Spiced Tomato and Tofu

Stuffed Okra

  • 1/2 cup cream cheese
  • 3 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons garam masala
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 8 okra pods, cut lengthwise and deseeded
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cornmeal
  • 6 oz beer (An IPA is fitting, but anything works)
  • Extra yogurt, to serve

Spiced Tomato and Tofu

  • canola oil
  • 1 package of tofu, pressed and cubed
  • 4 cloves or garlic, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, finely diced
  • 2 cans of diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • chili powder, to taste

Instructions

  1. In an bowl, combine the cream cheese, yogurt, garam masala and salt until mixed thoroughly. It should be spreadable, but not runny at all. If you need to, add additional yogurt. In another bowl, combine the flour, corn flour and beer and whisk until mixed thoroughly.
  2. Heat a skillet to medium and add enough canola oil to create a 1/2 inch layer. Using your hands, stuff as much of the yogurt mixture as you can into each of the okra pods. Dip each pod in the batter, then set into the frying pan. Fry on each side for about 2-3 minutes, or until the coating hardens and turns golden brown. Set aside on a paper town and reserve.
  3. Heat a skillet or wok to medium-high and enough canola oil to coat. Stir-fry the tofu until golden brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes, remove to a plate and reserve.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add another splash of canola oil. Add the onions and saute until they begin to turn translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another minute.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes, black pepper, garam masala, cinnamon and chili powder. Reduce the heat to keep it at a light simmer and cook for at least 20 minutes, until the tomatoes have started to break down and the sauce has thickened slightly. Add the fried tofu back in for the last few minutes.
  6. To serve, heap a pile of tomato-tofu stew onto a plate and top with the fried okra. For an extra topping, add extra yogurt to the garam masala stuffing to make a sauce you can drizzle over the top (recommended!)
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