Elegant yet quirky, my Tikka Masala Pot Pie is perfect eats to warm up your tummy on a frigid Fall evening. And I can’t think of a better dish to inject more fun into Thanksgiving dinner. I love pot pies– what’s not to love about bubbling veggies and a creamy filling encased in crisp, flaky pastry– but sometimes vegan pot pies tend to lack that bit of oomph, that surprisingly great flavor you hope to find once you’ve dug your fork into the pastry. A Tikka Masala, full-bodied and flavorful, takes care of that problem. For those who don’t know, a Tikka Masala is not actually an Indian creation. This dish, usually made with chicken, was improvised by Indian chefs in Britain and is so popular in that country that a few years back then British foreign secretary Robin Cook called it a “true British national dish.” Pot Pies, which originated as meat pies, are British in origin also which, I guess, makes my seemingly fusion dish truly British too. Who would have thought? You could make one big pot pie with this recipe, like I did, or divvy it up into eight individual pies before baking. I used a part whole-wheat crust because I wanted to make this healthy enough for everyday eats. For the filling, instead of cream, I used cashew cream, a ton of veggies, and some creamy tofu that I marinated and then crisped to perfection on a skillet.
Indian Tikka Masala Pot Pie [Vegan]
- 1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tbsp vegan butter
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- Ice-cold water
- 1 large onion
- 2 medium carrots, finely diced
- 8 ounces of cremini mushrooms (you can use white button or even portobello mushrooms here), finely diced
- 1 green bell pepper, finely diced
- 1 large tomato, cubed and pureed
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 2 tsp garam masala
- 1 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 3 tsp vegetable oil
- ½ cup cashew nuts, soaked in 1 cup of water for about 30 minutes, then blended into a smooth paste
- ¼ cup chopped coriander
- 1 16-ounce package of extra-firm tofu, swaddled in towels and placed in a colander with a heavy weight, like a pan, on top. Set aside for about 30 minutes until most of the water has been expressed. Then cut the tofu into 6 slices.
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp cayenne (use paprika for less heat)
- ½ tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- Juice of half a lemon or lime
- 1 tsp garlic paste
- 1 tsp ginger paste
- Salt to taste
- Place the flours in a bowl and using a fork or a pastry cutter, cut the cold “butter” or shortening into the flour until no large lumps remain.
- Drizzle the ice-cold water into the flour, a little at a time, stirring with the fork until the dough comes together in a ball.
- Divide the dough into two. Using plastic cling wrap, flatten each ball into a disc and wrap tightly. Place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Mix all the marinade ingredients. Dredge the pieces of tofu in the marinade and set aside for about 15-30 minutes.
- Heat 2 tsp of vegetable oil in a skillet. Place the marinaded tofu slices in a single layer without overcrowding and cook on both sides until the outside is crisp and golden. Cut the tofu into ½-inch cubes and set aside.
- You should have some marinade remaining after you have dredged the tofu. Mix in the diced carrots, mushrooms and bell pepper and set aside.
- To make the sauce, heat the remaining teaspoon of vegetable oil in a saucepan.
- Add the onions and saute until golden-brown. Lower the flame, then add the cumin powder, coriander powder, garam masala, and a tablespoon of water. Cook, stirring, for about a minute.
- Add the tomato puree and cook, stirring, until the water has evaporated. Add the marinated vegetables and stir well to coat with all the spices. Add salt to taste, cover, and cook over medium-low flame for about 10 minutes or until the carrots are quite tender.
- Add the tofu and the cashew paste and stir. You want a slightly runny but still thick sauce, the kind you’d need for a chicken pot pie filling. If the mixture is too dry, add some water.
- Check salt and turn off heat. Let the Tofu Tikka Masala stand to cool down.