Tofu…it’s affordable, easy to prepare and versatile. But if you are allergic to or are avoiding soy, then tofu is off the table. But is it really? The tofu we are most familiar with in the Western world is soy-based, but did you know that it can also be made from chickpea flour? It’s called chickpea tofu and it’s been made in Burma for hundreds of years. Let’s learn a little more about this tofu and how you can enjoy it, even if you don’t eat soy.
What is Chickpea Tofu?
Don’t be fooled by the name — chickpea tofu, also known as Burmese tofu, is very different from regular tofu. First, you can see the difference in appearance. Unlike regular tofu, which crumbles when you break it apart, chickpea tofu has been described as having a soft, creamy, almost pudding-like texture that is similar to silken tofu, except chickpea tofu can be sliced thin. Like regular tofu, chickpea tofu tastes neutral and is good at absorbing the flavor of whatever you cook it in. While tofu is white, chickpea tofu has a bright, goldenrod color that it gets from a combination of chickpea flour and turmeric!
How to Make Chickpea Tofu
In Burma, chickpea tofu is a popular choice for street food and everyday cuisine, where it is made into fritters, sliced and seasoned as a salad, and curried. But you can also try swapping chickpea tofu for regular tofu in any dish. First, learn How to Make Burmese Chickpea Tofu. The process is so simple that once you try it, you might never want to return to store-bought tofu. It involves in heating chickpea flour, water, turmeric, and a vegetable bouillon cube until the batter thickens and becomes glossy. Then, you pour it into a pan lined with parchment paper and let it cool — yes, it’s that easy! If you want, you can make your own chickpea flour by grinding dry chickpeas in a food processor or a high-speed blender.
Once you’ve made your chickpea tofu, this recipe also shows you three different ways to prepare it; a chickpea tofu “egg” salad, chickpea tofu nuggets, and Myanmar salad, a classic Burmese dish that involves tossing thinly sliced chickpea tofu in a garlic-infused oil, then dressing it with soy sauce (substitute with coconut aminos if you’re soy-free), fresh ginger, lemon juice, and chili flakes.
Where to Buy
Unfortunately, commercially produced chickpea tofu can be difficult to find. Your best bet for finding freshly made chickpea tofu would be at a Burmese restaurant. Luckily, it’s easy to make chickpea tofu at home! The first step to making chickpea tofu is to find chickpea flour. This certified gluten-free Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour is perfect for getting started. It costs $7.57 for a 16-ounce bag. Or if you’re the type who prefers to do everything from scratch, you can try making your own chickpea flour with these Palouse Brand Chickpeas. These Washington state-grown beans are Non-GMOProject Verified and they are not irradiated, meaning they can be sprouted for extra nutrition. One 3-pound bag costs $11.95. For turmeric, which is what gives chickpea tofu its bright color, try this Simply Organic Turmeric. One 2.38-ounce bottle costs $3.25.
More Recipes Using Chickpea Tofu
In addition to classic dishes like Myanmar Salad, chickpea tofu can be used to replace regular tofu in many of your favorite dishes. For breakfast, try easy recipes like this Mushroom Tofu Scramble With Roasted Paprika Potatoes or these portable Sweet Potato and Tofu Scramble Mega Breakfast Burritos that let you take breakfast on the go. For brunch, try this Breakfast Bowl With Tofu Scramble and Baked Hash Browns or this Tofu Benedict Florentine With Hollandaise, where tofu is cooked with black salt, which gives it an eggy flavor, peppers, onions, and vegan crème Fraiche.
Stir-frys are a great way to get started using chickpea tofu for dinner. This Black Sesame Vegetable and Tofu Stir-Fry With Chili Sauce is packed with tofu and green veggies tossed in a sweet, spicy, and umami sauce. It can be made in just 30 minutes, making it a great option for weekday meals. If you don’t have the vegetables listed, simply swap them for whatever is in your fridge. If you like things spicy, then this simple Fiery Garlic Tofu is a must-try. For a simple baked tofu dish that your family will love, try this Baked Turmeric and Coconut Crusted Tofu With Thai Chili Sauce or this Ginger Soy Tofu — they won’t be as crisp as traditional baked tofu, but they will still be flavorful and delicious. You can also simply cut your chickpea tofu up and add it to your favorite salad.
If you loved paneer curry, you can make it dairy-free by swapping the paneer for chickpea tofu. This Tofu Saag Paneer and this Paneer Tikka Masala are both perfect examples of that. You can also use chickpea tofu in this Shahi Tofu, a classic North Indian curry, this Thai Red Curry With Breaded Tofu, or this Tofu in Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Sauce. Chickpea tofu also fries well, so try it out in these Tofu “Fish” Fritters. The batter for the crispy coating is made from chickpea flour, buckwheat flour, and cornflour, making this appetizer gluten-free.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of cooking with chickpea tofu, don’t feel limited in how you choose to use it. While you may not be able to use it as a base for vegan cheesecakes, puddings, and mousse, like you would with soy-based tofu, but you can use it in any savory vegan tofu recipe.
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Lead image source: How to Make Burmese Chickpea Tofu