Mama’s Punjabi Recipes: Tofu te Mutter di Sabzi (Sauteed Tofu & Peas)


Although soya bean wadiyan (dumplings) are now commonly available in grocery stores in North India, tofu, which is also derived from soya beans, is not a widely known product in India. But Indians overseas, especially where there is a large Oriental population, are quite accustomed to tofu, yet many don’t use it in their diets and are not aware of its benefits. Still others do not use tofu in cooking Punjabi dishes.

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is a food made by coagulating soy bean milk and then pressing the resulting curds blocks to drain the fluid and into white which can be soft, firm, or extra firm. Tofu is low in calories but relatively high in protein, iron, and depending on the coagulants used in manufacturing it, can have a high calcium or magnesium content. It is also a good source of copper, zinc and vitamin B1.

Tofu offers many of the same benefits as the soya bean that it is derived from. It can lower cholesterol, LDL and triglycerides, but does not increase HDL. It is also considered beneficial as an antioxidant, minimizing diabetes and reducing inflammation since it is high in beneficial omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and alpha-linoleic acid.

Tofu has a subtle flavor and is often cooked seasoned or marinated with other vegetables and meats. Because tofu has a neutral taste and arrange of consistency, it can be used with almost all types of foods and flavors. Tofu can be found in bulk or in small packages which are refrigerated, and once opened, should be rinsed and kept in water in the fridge. Unopened tofu can be frozen for upto 5 months.

Tofu can often be used in place of paneer (fresh milk semi-soft cheese) in many dishes and does not have the high calories. This recipe is similar to the one made with paneer, but can be made quickly and with less preparation, yet have lots of flavor. It’s a quick and simple dish that most enjoy!


• 14oz pkt tofu (firm or extra firm)
• 200 gm mutter (green peas) – frozen or fresh
• 2 medium tamater (tomato) – soft ones are best, chopped
• 1 small pyaaz (onion) – peeled and finely chopped
• ½ teaspoon of lasan (garlic) powder (if desired)
• 1 small piece of adrak (ginger) – peeled and finely chopped
• 3 tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil
• Spices (to taste): namak (salt), mirch (red pepper), haldi (turmeric), fresh dhania (coriander), garam masala


1. Open the packet of tofu and press down on the cubes to drain the water. Let it sit till most of the water is drained.
2. With a sharp knife, cut the tofu into small ½ inch square cubes.
3. Place a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan and warm it up on medium heat.
4. Place the cubes of tofu in the frying pan and brown both sides slightly and make sure the water is dried off. Take off the heat and place on a plate to cool down.
5. Prepare the masala in a medium saucepan. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat, then add the onions, ginger, garlic and tomatoes. Stir well to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom. When the mixture is slightly brown, add the salt, pepper and haldi and stir well.
6. Throw in the peas and stir well to coat and cook for a few minutes. If frozen, then let the peas thaw out first before using and cook for 5 minutes. If fresh, then let the peas cook a little longer in the saucepan.
7. Throw in the browned tofu cubes; stir to coat well and let it cook for 2 minutes.
8. Turn the heat off, cover the saucepan and let it sit for five minutes.
9. Before serving, garnish the dish with garam masala and the shredded fresh dhania.




Many Indian sweets are made using full cream milk or with a heavy cream mixture which is boiled for a long time. It is important to make sure that the milk is constantly stirred while it is being boiled and reduced so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot. If you forget the milk for a while, it could stick and then you cannot get rid of the burnt smell of the milk, which means you have to throw the whole thing away and start again.
To help avoid this situation, it is best to boil the milk in a pot with a heavy bottom, which allows the heat to transfer evenly across and reduce the chance of burning.



mamas recipe inside3
Shakuntla Malhotra is a skilled cook of Punjabi dishes made in the old-fashioned style that she learnt as a young woman in her ancestral home in Lyallpur (since renamed Faisalabad), India before it became part of Pakistan after the Partition in 1947. People have often admired her cooking for its simplicity and taste that comes with each mouthful. Even in her mid-eighties, she continues to cook daily and agreed to share some of her delectable Punjabi recipes