Tofu Mulligatawny Stew
Years (and, so fast, years!) ago as a newlywed, I thought I was a pretty good cook. (I was pretty abysmal.) I thought I was on the fairly outstanding end of being passionate about healthy living, but I hadn't come anywhere close to unleashing the beast of a hyper for health and happiness herbivore (mostly) that lay within. I also didn't know about the infinite vastness of what I didn't know; one bonus of becoming more *seasoned*, the gentle humility of enlightenment.
Back then, structure was paramount to productivity, down to meal routines...or more like a meal rota that looked like this: Mondays, when Dave and I coached a Special Olympics Track team in the evenings, Subway; Tuesdays, Mrs. T's pierogies with tomato sauce with mushrooms and maybe spinach; Wednesdays, omelets; Thursdays, chicken curry or an easy Mulligatawny soup from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook; Fridays, "chips night" to both feed and stave off Dave's homesickness for the UK. It was oven steak fries, a fried egg, baked beans, and a baked tomato. On the weekends, maybe we were a little more creative, or maybe pizza and salad was the only thing that made sense.
A whopping seventeen (!!) years later, I can look back at those early dinners, laugh fondly, and revel a little bit in our evolution. It does make my heart skip a beat to reflect on the healthy variety and relaxed joy that is family dinner with our toddler, and almost three-year old who loves miso soup with kelp noodles, curried vegetables, and kale. I can't remember the last time I tasted a packaged pierogie stuffed with TV-dinner mashed potatoes. I have to admit, though, if for some reason I found myself all alone for a week and somehow unearthed a box in the freezer, I'd be tempted. Despite expiration date (and the fact that it wouldn't matter).
Looking back on seventeen years, there are so many moments and just states of being worthy of nostalgia. You wouldn't think Monday night Subway would be up there, but you can never really predict what's going to make the list and when. Nor would I have expected to get at all sentimental over an easy chicken mulligatawny...especially one that didn't much resemble any of the other "mulligatawny" dishes I've since had. Especially not when one no longer eats chicken.
For whatever reason, this past week I felt compelled to make a variation of the old mulligatawny. After the additions of vegetables and coconut milk, and swaps of vegetable versus chicken broth, baked tofu over chicken, plus more rice, the dish wasn't much like the once favorite, but it was warm, hearty and satisfying with that lightly sweet curry comfort. Easy, too. Full disclosure/TMI, I prepped the whole thing, or at least all the main parts were made ready to go, while little sous chef/monkey was "working on a poo poo" in the potty. Can't really beat that for efficiency.
Next week, maybe we'll try this again, only exactly as the Better Homes inspiration was written but with tofu. I'm sure it will be lovely and repeatable. One thing that's wonderful about seventeen years shared with your best friend, there are countless experiences worth looking back on, revisiting, and savoring again. Neither this particular version or the original mulligatawny soup were quite up to the honor of anniversary day dinner, however, tasty as they both are. That was reserved for "chips night".
Happy anniversary, sweetheart. Three days late, in keeping with how little time we have for "extra" stuff these days. I love how fully and joyfully our little family is living every second of each minute that we share together. :)
Tofu Mulligatawny Stew Serves 4-6
- 1 cup long grain brown rice
- 1 package firm tofu, cubed
- 1 apple, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 1 tablespoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 400 F.
- In a large saucepan, prepare rice: bring cup rice and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, until tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed, 45 minutes.
- While rice is cooking (or once cooked), prepare the tofu: place cubed tofu on a baking sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray, salt and pepper to taste. Bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, turning halfway with a spatula.
- Heat a large skillet coated with cooking spray to medium high. Add apples, carrot, zucchini, pepper, onion and cook, stirring, about 2 minutes. Add curry powder, lemon juice, and nutmeg, and continue to heat another 2 minutes. Add broth and coconut milk and bring to a near boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, about 10 minutes. Stir in cooked rice and tofu and heat through.