Quick Vegetable & Tofu Curry
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My naan experiments earlier this month sent me on a curry bender. I started with this favorite lentil + kale dal, then made this chickpea + cauliflower number, then sort of combined the two, leaving out the legumes, adding tofu in their place.
The result is a veggie-loaded, super flavorful, Thai-spiced “curry”, a stewy, comforting not-quite-one-pot wonder of a dish. Here, the curry materializes stovetop, while tofu cubes bake briefly in the oven, just long enough to lightly crisp the edges, a measure that ensures the cubes won’t dissolve while simmering, but not so long to render them tough, incapable of absorbing the sauce.
Inspired by this one-pot chicken curry, a dish I learned from Thien Ngo at Fork, this dish is flavored with Thai curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, and coconut milk. I love serving it with rice — this (no-rinse!) Instant Pot brown rice is a favorite — and, of course, naan.
If you’ve made any of the curries mentioned above, the process here will feel familiar. This is the formula:
- Sweat onions (and/or garlic, ginger).
- Stir in spices + Thai curry paste.
- Pour in coconut milk + water.
- Add the substance (lentils, chickpeas, vegetables, tofu, chicken)
- Simmer till substance is cooked and sauce is flavorful.
- Fold in greens — spinach, kale, Swiss chard — at the very end.
Vegetable Curry Notes
Thai Curry Paste:
- Using a ready-made curry paste is a serious time saver. It’s a concentrated mix of aromatics, often shallots, garlic, ginger, and lemongrass, along with spices such as coriander, cumin, and cardamom. Using a few tablespoons of such a paste almost renders additional aromatics (such as onions as here) or spices (such as turmeric and curry powder as here) unnecessary (though I do find their inclusion here worthwhile).
- Maesri was Thien’s favorite brand. My Asian market carries it, but I also order it online. I’ve used both red and green curry pastes in this recipe.
- Heat Level: Thai curry paste is spicy. Start with a tablespoon if you are sensitive to heat; add more to taste.
- Cauliflower: Look for a head of cauliflower with lots of greens still intact — discard only the tough stem and leaves.
- Greens: Folding in something like kale, spinach or Swiss chard at the very end of the cooking process not only gives the curry an extra boost of vegetables, it also provides color and flavor.
- Other vegetables: If you are not yet tired of winter squash season, roasted delicata, Kabocha, or butternut squash would work well here. Sweet potatoes would be nice, too.
Here’s the play-by-play: Gather your ingredients.
If time permits, drain the tofu. Here’s one way to do it (but place the colander in the sink):
Cut the tofu up into 1-inch cubes, roughly:
Spread on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, season with salt, and transfer to a 425ºF oven for 10-15 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Meanwhile, slice up an onion.
Then, cook it covered over low heat with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
Add spices: turmeric, curry powder, and curry paste (see recipe for notes.)
Cook for a minute or two or until the onions are nicely coated and the spices are beginning to toast and stick to the pan.
Add a can of coconut milk and some water to the pan, and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, chop up a head of cauliflower. Much of the greens can be used — remove the tough stem and the tough outer leaves; use everything else.
Add the cauliflower to the pot along with the tofu, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is knife tender.
Meanwhile, chop up some kale (spinach or Swiss chard is fine here, too).
Add to the pan and stir gently to incorporate. Cook for another 5 minutes.
Serve with rice — I love this Instant Pot brown rice (no rinsing necessary!) — and/or naan.Print
Quick Vegetable & Tofu Curry
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4
This recipe can be seen as a guide. I have made many variations of it over the years:
A few notes:
- Spices: To keep things simple, I’m using turmeric and Madras curry powder here. You can, of course, make the effort to toast and crush whole spices such as (such as cumin, coriander, and mustard seeds as here) but if you aren’t up for it, the combination of curry powder, turmeric and Thai curry paste will be plenty flavorful.
- Curry paste. Maesri is the brand of Thai curry paste I buy at the Asian market. You can buy it online, too: I most often use the green for this recipe, but the red is great, too. Both are spicy. If you are sensitive to heat, start with a tablespoon and adjust the sauce with more at the end.
- Coconut Milk. I’ve gotten in the habit of ordering it online because I love this brand, and I can’t always find it. Plus it’s cheaper.
- a 14-oz block of firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon olive oil + more for drizzling
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced
- kosher salt
- 1 –3 tablespoons red or green Thai curry paste, see notes above
- 2 teaspoons curry powder, such as Madras
- 2 teaspoons turmeric
- 13.5 oz can unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 2 to 4 ounces kale
- lime for serving, optional
- rice (without the seasonings) or naan, for serving, optional
- Drain the tofu. If time permits, drain the tofu. This is what I like to do: Remove tofu from its packaging. Place tofu in colander. Place the tub it arrived in on top. (If it didn’t arrive in a tub, simply fold a tea towel around it, and place it in the colander.) Place something heavy, such as 28-oz can plum tomatoes, inside the tub (or on top of the towel). Place colander in sink to drain for 10-15 minutes. See photo above for reference. Heat oven to 425ºF.
- Cut tofu into cubes, roughly 1-inch. Spread onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, season with salt. Toss gently. Spread out. Transfer pan to the oven and cook for about 15 minutes. You’re not trying to get these super crispy, just lightly golden (so they don’t turn to mush in the curry).
- Meanwhile, get going on the curry. In a large skillet over high heat, add the oil, then the onions. Season with a big pinch of salt. Stir. Cover pan and immediately turn heat down to low. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until onions begin to take on some color.
- Prep the veg. Cut off tough bottom stem of cauliflower. Remove only the very tough outer leaves. Cut the remaining leaves roughly, and cut the cauliflower into florets. Remove the leaves from the kale stems. Chop the leaves roughly.
- When the onions are ready, open the lid, allowing the water to drip back into the pan. Add the curry paste and spices and cook for a minute or two, or until the onion is evenly coated in the spices, and the spices are beginning to toast.
- Add the coconut milk. Fill the empty can with water, and add it to the pan. Fill it again halfway and add to the pan — you need about 2 3/4 cup water. (Note: If you like a brothier curry, add 2 cans full of water (3 cups); if you like a thicker curry, use 2.75 cups water.) Bring to a simmer. Add the brown sugar and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Add the cauliflower and the tofu and simmer at a good pace — turn the heat up if necessary — for about 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is tender. Check with a paring knife. (Note: Cauliflower quickly goes from being uncooked/tough to knife tender. Keep in mind the texture of the finished dish ultimately is on the mushy side … there are no crispy elements here. On subsequent days, the texture of the vegetables gets even softer, but I find the flavor gets even better.)
- Add the kale, and stir to combine. Taste the broth. Add more salt if necessary. Add a squeeze of lime if necessary, too. (Note: Depending on the size/shape of the pan you are using, the broth may evaporate more (or less) quickly. If you find you need more liquid, simply add water by the quarter cup; if it’s too liquidy, simmer it until it thickens slightly and the flavors concentrate.)
- Serve with rice or naan, if you wish.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Thai
Keywords: quick, vegetable, curry, cauliflower, tofu, kale, onions, vegan
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
20 Comments on “Quick Vegetable & Tofu Curry”
Ali, I am a huge fan of yours and make many of your recipes (xmas time made your buttermilk rolls and mustard sauce with raves reviews)! Quick question before I attempt the curry: the green and red curry pastes….how do you store extra of them when they come in a can? Can they sit in the fridge maybe after transferring them to a jar? Go in the freezer?
Hi Joanne! So nice to hear this 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thank you. Yes, I transfer the leftover paste to small jars or containers, and I’ve definitely frozen the paste … it’s such a small amount just be sure to keep it in an accessible part of your freezer so that it doesn’t get lost forever 🙂
Both the red and green Curry pastes look like they either have shellfish, or might have shellfish, in them. Alternatives? Allergy issue. Thanks.
Hmmm … Debby, I’m sorry. You could omit the paste, though you’ll probably want to up the aromatics and spices. I would probably sauté garlic and ginger along with the onions, and you might want to use some whole spices … are you up for toasting and grinding spices? If so, I would follow the instructions in this curried lentils with kale and coconut milk post.
Sweet momma serving it up for us in this time of needing comfort! THANK you. Just on the edge of spring showing herself, and being stuck inside all day this is comfort food to the max. But the kind of comfort food with great health benefits which we all need. Colorful and warm. stay healthy, looking forward to getting to the other side of this all.
Oh Lindey, this makes me happy 😍😍😍 Thinking of all of you and so looking forward to warmer and brighter days ahead. Sending lots of love your way 💕💕💕
Another wonderful recipe. Made this just as written except my boyfriend didn’t have curry powder or turmeric. 🙄 I just added four cloves of garlic and 1 tsp of powdered ginger with the curry paste. It was great! Tofu didn’t crisp until 20 mins at 450.
So happy to hear this Alleira! 🙂 🙂 🙂
This was great, a very tasty curry! I’ve made curry at home before but this recipe was so easy and had a lot of flavor. And something about the combination of cauliflower, kale, and tofu is just so satisfying!
Yay! So happy to hear this, Priscilla 😍😍😍
This recipe was delicious! Super fast and so tasty. I followed the recipe exactly except for these two things: I used red curry, but 1 teaspoon to start and also used roasted, cubed sweet potatoes as the main veg. I doubled it so we could have leftovers and it was seamless. House smelled great and all five of us enjoyed it on the first nasty, cold, wet evening of Fall. Thanks!
Wonderful to hear this, Christine! Sweep potatoes sound amazing here. Thanks so much for writing!
This is the first recipe I’ve tried of yours. – Just started following you – heard about you on Margaret Roach’s A Way To Garden podcast.
Good tip on the curry paste!
Also, was shy about the brown sugar – I always cut back in recipes- but it’s just fine – more of a blending ingredient than a sweetener. Phew.
Thx – love your direct, simple style and clear instructions.
I’m a quick fan :)))
So nice to hear this, Ellen 🙂 🙂 🙂 Welcome! And thanks so much for writing. Love Margaret so much 💕💕💕💕💕
I have made this curry many times and always enjoy it. Today I used zucchini and red and orange bell peppers instead of cauliflower and zucchini because it’s what I had. It was excellent!!! Thank you for a delicious base.
So great to hear this, Lauren! Thanks so much for writing and sharing your notes. All of your veggies sound delicious 🙂 🙂 🙂
This sounds delicious, and I’m keen to try it; I have quite a lot of vegetables and some tofu that need to be used up. I don’t have much experience with tofu – would this recipe freeze okay? I live alone so usually cook a full batch of something then freeze the excess.
Hi! I’m not sure how the tofu will freeze? Otherwise, I think it will freeze great overall.
Delicious! And a great way to load up on veggies in a tasty way. I cooked brown rice in my Instapot for the first time and it’s a winner- a great “hands off” way to cook a bunch of this kind of longer cooking rice. It made more than expected- I’m wondering whether it will freeze well.
It should freeze great! Go for it.