fight fire with fire…

…I brought Garam masala to a knife fight and won.

After last weekend’s tempura-palooza, I had to find a way to kill the essence of fried shrimp that greeted me in every room of my house. It was almost manageable for a day, but by mid-week we still reeked of canola oil and regret. And nothing worked – not boiling lemons or vinegar, not air fresheners, not fans, not open windows. So I finally took off the gloves and decided to combat it with the most aromatic, tantalizing cuisine I could think of. Frankly, I think I nailed it.

Obviously, that was not the only reason I cooked an Indian-inspired dinner – I simply wanted it. We all did, but it was 3pm and the clock was ticking. I quickly researched and reimagined some shortcuts which seemed to honor authenticity and depth of flavor. Luckily I had leftover basmati rice and plenty of fresh ginger, spices, strained tomatoes and cream. I could totally pull this off! I was out of chicken but my pal Christine “came into some tofu,” whatever that means, so…

Tofu Makhani (Butter Tofu)


  • 1 container of firm or extra firm tofu
  • 1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 heaping tsp. turmeric
  • 1 heaping tsp. cumin
  • 1 Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup ghee
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 3+ Tbs. vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. Kashmiri chili powder (or cayenne)
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1-2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 1 heaping tsp. garam masala
  • 3 Tbs. kasoori methi
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2-1/3 cup crushed or strained tomatoes
  • 1/2-1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Diced scallions and cilantro leaves for garnish


2 hours before cooking, drain tofu and place between two kitchen towels. Add a book or two on top to extract the water without demolishing the block.

When dry, dice tofu into 3/4” cubes.Combine lemon juice, turmeric and 1 Tbs. Vegetable oil to make a marinade; add tofu and toss to coat. Set aside.

In a Dutch oven heat the ghee at medium and add the chopped onion. Sauté 5 minutes until translucent.

Meanwhile, in a wide non-stick frying pan heat 3 Tbs. vegetable oil on medium high. Coat the marinated tofu with cornstarch and add to heated pan. Fry each side until light brown and crisp, flipping to ensure every side is fried; remove from heat.

To the onions, add the ginger and garlic, sautéing gently about 3 minutes. Add cayenne, paprika, salt, garam masala, kasoori methi, cinnamon stick and strained tomatoes. Cook down for 8-10 minutes on medium low.

Stir in heavy cream and then tofu, gently stirring to coat. Simmer 3-5 minutes and serve with basmati rice. Garnish with scallions and cilantro.

Note: okay fine, use chicken and dice it up for the same marinade. I’d do thighs though…just sayin.

One thought on “fight fire with fire…

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