Chilli Tofu

The weather in Bangalore has taken a sharp turn, lately. It’s been raining off and on. It’s dark and overcast most part of the day, and quite chilly. Nights are cold. Brrr. This warrants for delicious, hot food, in our books! That’s how I ended up making Chilli Tofu and Vegetable Fried Rice for lunch, one recent weekend, an indulgence that we thoroughly cherished.

This Chilli Tofu is my kind of indulgent food. It is spicy and tangy and sweet, super flavourful and delicious. It’s so easy to make, it takes just about 10-12 minutes in all.

I would like to say that I have tried to make little substitutions here and there, to make the Chilli Tofu as healthy as I could. I have used some ingredients here – packaged sauces, cornflour and maida, for instance – which aren’t great for health. That said, I have used them in limited quantities. I have also cut down on the frying – and consequently the amount of oil – that are integral parts of this dish in most restaurants. I have used good-quality sauces and 100% natural tofu. I love that about home-made junk food – you can control the amount of ‘junk’ that goes into it, and try to make it a wee bit healthier. πŸ™‚ And, hey, that’s perfectly okay once in a while, if you are eating healthy most of the time.

This is an entirely vegan recipe, completely plant-based. It isn’t completely gluten-free though, because of the use of maida, which is basically refined wheat flour. You can easily substitute the maida used here with corn flour, though, rendering the Chilli Tofu fully gluten-free.

Let’s now see how I made the Chilli Tofu. I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #288. The co-host this week is Antonia @

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 200 grams firm tofu
  2. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  3. 5-6 garlic cloves
  4. 1 medium-sized onion
  5. 1 medium-sized carrot
  6. 1 small capsicum
  7. 1 teaspoon maida
  8. 1 teaspoon corn flour
  9. 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1 teaspoon jaggery powder or sugar
  12. 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon of oil
  13. 1 tablespoon soya sauce or to taste
  14. 1 tablespoon tomato sauce or to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon red chilli sauce or to taste
  16. 1 tablespoon green chilli sauce or to taste
  17. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander


1. Cut the tofu into cubes, as big as you would like them to be. Keep aside.

2. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Grind the ginger and garlic together to a paste, in a small mixer. Keep aside.

3. Now, we will prepare the vegetables required to make this dish. Peel the carrot and chop into batons. Chop the onion length-wise. Cut the capsicum into large-ish pieces. Keep aside.

4. Take the corn flour and maida in a small cup. Add about 1/4 cup water and make a lump-free slurry. Keep aside.

5. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a large pan. Add in half of the tofu cubes, without overcrowding the pan. Fry the tofu till till the cubes get a little crisp and brown on the outside. Transfer to a plate and keep aside. Again add 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan, heat it, and fry the rest of the tofu cubes.

6. Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil to the pan. Now, add the chopped onion, carrot and capsicum to the pan, along with salt to taste and the ginger-garlic paste. Cook on high flame till the veggies are cooked, but still retain a bit of a crunch.

7. Add the cornflour and maida slurry to the pan, along with about 1-1/2 cups of water. Add in the jaggery powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame till the gravy thickens up, about 2 minutes.

8. Add more water if needed. Add in the fried tofu cubes, soya sauce, tomato sauce, red chilli sauce and green chilli sauce. Mix well. Cook for a minute more, adjusting seasonings as required. Switch off gas when the mixture is thick but still quite runny. It thickens further upon cooling.

9. Serve hot, garnished with finely chopped fresh coriander.


1. I have used Vegetable Tofu from Murginns, to make this dish. It came with bits of carrot, ginger and green chilli in it, and was just perfect for the saucy gravy. You can use plain tofu instead too, but I would highly recommend the Murginns Vegetable Tofu. I picked it up from Namdhari’s Fresh.

2. Use firm tofu (rather than silken tofu) for best results.

3. You can skip frying the tofu and add it in directly, at the end. However, the frying does impart a lovely taste to the dish.

4. Adjust the quantity of sauces you use, as per personal taste preferences.

5. Be careful with the amount of salt you add in, because the sauces will have salt in them too.

6. Cottage cheese aka paneer can be used in place of the tofu. You can fry the paneer the same way you did the tofu, or add them at the very end, as is, without frying.

7. You can use vegetables of your choice in this dish. I have used whatever was available in my refrigerator at the time of making.

8. Make sure you don’t overcook the veggies. They should still retain their crunch.

9. You may skip the jaggery powder or sugar. I felt it was a necessary addition.

10. I have simply pan-fried the tofu here. You can coat the tofu pieces with cornflour, and deep-fry them too. This will make the tofu even crisper.

11. You can use either cornflour or maida in the slurry, to thicken the Chilli Tofu. I have used a mix of both here.

12. The Chilli Tofu gets thicker as it cools. Do account for this fact, while preparing it.

13. I have used Heinz tomato ketchup (free of preservatives and artificial additives, as per the label), green chilli sauce from Ching’s Kitchen, red chilli sauce from Thai Heritage, and a naturally fermented soya sauce called Shoyu that I picked up on our Thailand holiday.

14. I served this Chilli Tofu with home-made Vegetable Fried Rice. You can also serve it with parathas.

Did you like this recipe? Do try it out, and let me know how you liked it!

8 thoughts on “Chilli Tofu

  1. Yes anyway I prefer a lesser gravy to tofu/ veggie ratio, so just the sauces with a tbsp. or two of water works fine.


  2. I make Chinese food pretty often at home but I never follow the recipe exactly for precisely the reason you mentioned: health and nutrition. For this particular dish, I completely skip the cornflour and maida, don’t fry the tofu at all and replace the chilli sauces with fresh green/ red slit chillis. Believe me, it tastes so fresh and healthy! Also honey tastes much better as a sweetener in Chinese food, rather than jaggery or sugar.


    1. @Amrita

      Ah, interesting. How do you make the gravy without cornflour and/or maida? You just saute the veggies and chillies and add in the tofu?

      I’ll try this with honey next time. I was quite ok with the jaggery powder too, though. πŸ™‚


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