On our long bike tour last year, Mai-Yan, Nick, Kismat and I spent many hours on our bikes, and I’m sure I spent about half my time on the saddle thinking about what I was going to eat next. When you’re pedaling for hours every day, keeping yourself fed is almost a chore, simply because you have to eat so often in order to have enough energy to keep going. So on those long days, when it came time for dinner, Mai-Yan and I would get really excited about what we would cook. That was our time to enjoy and taste our food.
As we rode through the tiny towns of coastal Oregon, Kismat and I often found ourselves talking about how much we missed Indian food. One day, I decided I would make some for dinner. I had one of my favorite Indian restaurant dishes in mind, Kadhai Paneer, which is fresh Indian cheese (paneer) and bell peppers stir fried in a spicy sauce. The thick, heavy pan it’s cooked in is called a kadhai—it’s sort of like a wok. You can find paneer at Indian grocery stores or make it from milk at home, but I knew I couldn’t find any paneer at a regular supermarket, and I didn’t want to make it on a camp stove. I figured I could try using tofu in place of the paneer, and call it Tofu and Bell Pepper Curry.
Our neighbors at the campground that evening were some backpackers who were travelling to San Francisco from Idaho for a music festival. Kismat and Nick spent the evening chatting with them about music, while Mai-Yan and I put together our dinner. Our meal came together beautifully. It wasn’t the familiar restaurant meal I had in mind, but it was certainly delicious. We ate the Tofu and Bell Pepper Curry with rice and flatbread, and had enough to share with our new friends.
Bell Pepper and Tofu Curry
Prep Time / Cook Time/
Activity GuideBike Touring, Car Camping
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 medium white onion, halved and thinly sliced
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon garam masala
- 1 pound extra firm tofu, cubed
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup cream or half and half
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)
- Cutting board
- Mixing spoon
- Large skillet
Note: You can substitute the cumin, coriander, and garam masala with 2 teaspoons of good curry powder.
- Heat oil in a large skillet. Add sliced onions and saute until soft.
- Add jalapeno, ginger, cumin, coriander, and garam masala. Saute for a minute or two, just until the spices are fragrant. Add the cubed tofu and saute until lightly browned. Add the bell peppers and saute for about a minute
- Add the tomato sauce, water, cream, salt and pepper. Simmer until peppers are tender and the sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve hot with rice, pita, or flatbread.