I am being pretty liberal calling this dish tandoori – I suppose the word refers to the method of cooking food in the tandoor oven as much as it does to the spices. And the spices used in tandoori dishes seem to vary a lot: it’s sort of like North Indian barbecue and everyone has their own special blend. I based my sauce on a recipe found online that sounded nice, and it did not disappoint – the sauce was so good I could have eaten it all with a spoon! I especially love how in baked dishes like this, the flavors melt together and permeate each and every grain of rice.
Most tandoori sauces seem to have red food coloring, and that’s not something I wanted to include in this recipe. I added a chopped beet to get a little bit of that red tandoori color, but my endeavor wasn’t a complete success: the result was unevenly colored, partly bright fuchsia, partly yellowish. Now that I think of it, I could have added the beets in when I was pre-cooking the rice, and the color would’ve most likely come out prettier! Another option would’ve been to add some beet juice in the sauce, so that the tofu would’ve had a pink color as well.
This recipe makes a lot of food, enough for about 4 hungry or 6 not quite as hungry eaters. I like to make a larger batch of food once I heat up the oven, so there’s leftovers for the days to come.
The Tandoori Sauce (adapted from this recipe):
- 5 garlic cloves
- 5 cm peeled ginger
- 3 shallots (or 1 regular onion)
- 1 small red chili with seeds
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar
- 1 and 1/2 dl plain soy yogurt
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons paprika powder
- 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin and turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon each: cinnamon and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon each: freshly grated nutmeg, ground cardamom, and ground clove
- 500 g firm tofu, pressed and cubed
- 2 potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
- 1 beet, peeled and finely cubed
- 4 dl brown basmati rice
- 1 bay leaf
- water to cook rice in
- 4 dl vegetable stock
Three and a half hours before we planned to have dinner we started the preparations. I blended all the tandoori sauce ingredients with our immersion blender until smooth. Heikki pressed and cubed the tofu, and I mixed it with the sauce and put it in the fridge to marinate for two hours (overnight would be even better). I rinsed the rice at this point and let it soak in fresh water for two hours as well.
An hour and a half before dinner time I set the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Then I rinsed the rice, cooked it in ample water with the bay leaf for about 20 minutes, and drained it. While the rice was cooking, I cubed the potatoes and the beet. When everything was prepped, I just mixed it all together in a large baking dish – tofu with the tandoori sauce, pre-cooked rice, potatoes, beets, and the veggie stock. Now, I covered the dish with a lid, and baked it for one hour.