There’s a classic South Indian restaurant dish called chicken 65, which I first saw a good few years ago at a lovely restaurant near where I used to live. The name intrigued me, everything else on the menu had an Indian name apart from this one… So I did a little research and found that it’s basically a yoghurt marinade/deep fry/tarka (hot spiced oil dressing) method.
I always meant to have a go at cooking a version of it, but it was one of those dishes that I knew I’d like but just never got around to… I think everyone has a few!
But I had tofu, plain soy yoghurt, spices and herbs in, so now was definitely the time to give it a go!
As well as being vegan and gluten free I wanted to make a healthier version, so have gone for baking the tofu rather than deep frying. It takes a while in the oven as the moisture in the tofu and marinade do take some time to cook off enough, but you are left with a great texture at the end.
I marinated mine for 24 hours, but you could probably get away with an hour and still end up with a great result.
Instead of the tarka I’ve gone for a similar style of dressing, with the heat of fresh ginger, the tartness of lime juice, and the gorgeous fragrance and flavour of curry leaves.
I’m going to eat it cold for lunch at work so have made a simple brown rice, spinach and pea base for the spicy tofu and fresh dressing.
for the marinade
150 ml plain soy yoghurt
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp roast ground coriander
1/4 tsp roast ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp chilli powder (or to taste)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp grated ginger
1/4 tsp salt
for the dressing
4 tbsp lime juice
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp fresh coriander
and the tofu…
400 g tofu, pressed and cut into cubes
Mix all of the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and toss the tofu around in it, coating it well.
Refrigerate for 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 220 degrees c.
Line a tray with baking paper, tip the tofu onto it (including marinade), and bake for 45 minutes.
Check the tofu after 25 minutes and carefully turn it. There may be a little liquid in the tray, drain that off if you can, it will help the final texture. The yoghurt should have caught and caramelised in places when the tofu has had the full cooking time.
Just before serving, heat the oil in a frying pan and add the ginger and curry leaves. Sizzle for a minute or so, then squeeze in the lime juice. Add the coriander at the last minute and then pour the dressing over the tofu.