Thursday, February 10, 2011

Fiery heat with a bright tang

This is my absolute favorite meal. I discovered it in early 2011 while I was watching Nigella Kitchen, where she showed how to make a jerk sauce and coconut rice with pigeon peas. Although Nigella used chicken, I had the bright idea to make it with tofu. And since I marinated it for hours, it tasted nothing like tofu and was filled with flavor and chewiness. To me, this is revolutionary. In some way, it also reminds me of tandoori paneer, because that charr is present in both the paneer and this tofu, and it's irresistible. 
Habanero chillies, or its close relative the Scotch Bonnet, are one of the hottest chillies out there. They are also extremely flavorful and are a vital component to the jerk sauce. You can reduce the amount of chilies, and also de-seed it to reduce its potency. Please do wear gloves or even a plastic bag on your hands while you are de-seeding these peppers. These peppers freeze easily wrapped in a plastic bag for later use. 

Tofu gains a chewy texture after being in the freezer, so that is the way I always handle it: Open a package of tofu, weigh it down to release some of its liquid, wrap it and freeze for 8 hours. I then thaw it in the microwave and squeeze out as much of its liquid as I can, and then it takes in the marinade quite willingly, provided it's marinated for long enough. You can read more about my tofu preparation here

We enjoy this dish with Jamaican beer (Red Stripe) and music. I also like to serve it with a side of roasted sweet potatoes or pan-fried plantains.

Tip: Make double the batch of marinade and freeze for later use!

Jerk Tofu
Inspired by Nigella Lawson's recipe
Serves 4

1 small onion, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves
A thumb size piece of ginger, roughly chopped
1/2 (1 if you are really bold) scotch bonnet pepper, de-seeded with rubber gloves
A handful of fresh thyme
4 tbs vinegar 
1 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs molasses
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
2 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
3 tbs canola oil, plus more for greasing the baking dish
500g (17.6 oz) firm or extra firm tofu, pressed dry and sliced into 1/2 inch slices

1. In a food processor, add all the ingredients except for the tofu and grind to a smooth sauce. Taste for salt. 

2. In a sealable container, pour the sauce over and under the tofu and allow to marinate for about 3 - 4 hours.

3. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F. Grease a casserole dish or pan with canola oil. Line the tofu evenly in one layer along with all the marinade. Allow to cook 20 - 30 minutes, until a crust ensues.

Coconut Bean Rice
Serves 4

1 3/4 cup basmati rice, rinsed well
2 tbs canola oil
400g (14 oz) can coconut milk
1 1/4 can water (use coconut milk can to measure) or 2 1/2 cups 
1 vegetable bouillon cube
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup black beans, pigeon peas or kidney beans, cooked and drained
1/2 a scotch bonnet pepper, de-seeded (optional)
salt to taste
A lime, as garnish

1. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and add onion. Cook until golden, then add garlic and cook for a minute. Saute the rice and bouillon with the onion for 2-3 minutes, stirring most of the time. Add coconut milk, water and the scotch bonnet pepper. Add just a pinch of salt since the bouillon will be salty, or sprinkle some salt after the rice is cooked.

2. Bring the rice to a boil on medium heat. Once the boiling bubbles create tunnels in the rice, stir in the beans and reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight lid and cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to rest for 5 - 10 minutes before eating.

Enjoy warm, perhaps with sweet potato fries to extinguish the burn! Squeeze some lime juice over the whole meal as the acid balances the heat. 


  1. I can't wait to make this !! My friend Sabreena tried the chicken and she said it was amazing

  2. Oh my god, I just made this with chicken, and it was fiery and soooo delicious! Our mouths were burning, but we couldn't stop eating.

  3. I recommend making this with tofu, it's really special how the flavors seep into it, and since I use defrosted tofu, it's so chewy! You would never miss the meat.

  4. Looks delicous Divya!! *taking notes*

  5. This looks awesome, I'm trying to go vegetarian and I think this recipe will certainly help!

    1. Thank you Elena! I do hope you try out this recipe, perhaps you'll become as addicted to it as I am! I mean, I have to eat this spicy tangy meal once a week, that's how much I love it!

  6. Just wanted to thank you for sharing this recipe. I stumbled upon it while looking for new vegan recipes. Had it tonight, and it is DELICIOUS! Thought I'd share a photo of the end result, too. Meant to make it with FRESH green beans, but of everything else on my grocery list, that's the ONE thing I forgot. :-)

    1. Hi Zan, glad to hear you enjoyed the recipe! It is a forever favorite of mine! Other than a side of green beans and sweet potatoes, it goes well with steamed broccoli too! Or sauteed spinach or kale!

  7. Just stumbled upon this yesterday and plan to make it this weekend, looks amazing and I love hot food:)

  8. Recipes look great! Do you use sweetened or unsweetened coconut milk for the rice?

    1. Hi Mandy, thanks! I always use unsweetened coconut milk and actually now prefer to buy it in a tetra pack instead of canned because of the BPA risk in canned foods.

  9. That jerk tofu looks good. Vegans in Jamaica prepare it. You should try jerk breadfruit as well.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...