Try chickpea tofu for a simple, inexpensive, and equally delicious alternative to traditional soy-based tofu! It has a unique nutty flavor and a dense texture that make it perfect for stir-fries, salads, and more. Plus, you only need 3 ingredients!
Chickpea tofu, also known as Burmese tofu or Shan tofu, is the perfect soy-free alternative to traditional tofu, especially if you have sensitivities. It’s used in a variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes worldwide, from curries to salads.
It’s made from chickpea flour (or soaked chickpeas), water, and salt. Some recipes incorporate turmeric for color, but I don’t find that necessary. It differs from soy-based tofu with its more pronounced nutty flavor and dense-yet-smooth texture.
Whether you’re pan-frying, baking, or incorporating it into a soup, the cooking techniques for chickpea tofu are as versatile as the dish itself. My personal favorite way to prepare it is pan-seared and tossed in sauces like teriyaki, sweet chili, or BBQ.
- Chickpea flour: You can make your own chickpea flour or use a store-bought variety like Bob’s Red Mill.
- Water: Used to hydrate and create a batter consistency with the chickpea flour. You can use broth for added flavor, but the results may vary.
- Salt: Enhances flavor and overpowers the slight beany undertones of chickpea flour.
How to Make Chickpea Tofu
Step 1: Prepare the Chickpea Batter
In a pot, whisk together all of the ingredients, ensuring there are no lumps. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Step 2: Simmer the Mixture
Once simmering, the batter will quickly thicken to the consistency of gloopy mashed potatoes. Once it reaches this consistency, remove the pot from the heat.
Step 3: Set the Tofu
Once the mixture has thickened, pour it into a greased or parchment paper-lined baking dish. Smooth the top with a spatula and let it sit at room temperature for about 1-2 hours until it firms up, then transfer it to the fridge with a cover on.
Step 4: Unmold and Slice
After the tofu has set, unmold it on a cutting board. Slice it into your desired shapes – cubes, slabs, or strips, depending on your recipe preference. You can also pan-fry it for a crispy snack!
How to Use Chickpea Tofu
- Stir-fries: Pan-fry the cubes until golden and toss them in a stir-fry with your favorite veggies and sauces.
- Salads: Add lightly seared chickpea tofu cubes to an avocado and mango green salad for an extra protein boost.
- Sandwiches: Slice the tofu thinly and use it as a filling in sandwiches or wraps. Try it instead of tofu in my tofu banh mi or as an addition to a vegan BLT.
- Grilled: Marinate chickpea tofu slabs and grill them for a smoky flavor.
Storing Chickpea Tofu
If you have leftover chickpea tofu or plan to make it for meal prep, follow these storage instructions:
- Fridge: Store it in an airtight container, covered with water, for up to 3-4 days. Make sure to change the water daily to keep it fresh.
- Freezer: While freezing may slightly change its texture, you can keep it frozen for up to a month. Thaw it in the fridge overnight before you cook with it.
Tips for Perfect Chickpea Tofu
- Keep stirring: Continuously stirring the chickpea batter in the pot will make or break the recipe. This prevents lumps and helps achieve the smoothest consistency.
- Experiment with flavors: For a flavor twist, add spices like turmeric (for color and taste), garlic powder, or cumin to the batter before cooking.
- Adjust the thickness: The thickness of your chickpea tofu will depend on the size of the dish you pour it into. For thinner tofu slices or sheets, use a wider, shallow dish. For thicker cubes, use a smaller, deeper dish.
- Chill it: For a firmer texture, especially if you plan to pan-fry, chill the set batter in the fridge for a couple of hours before using.
- Prevent sticking: If you’re pan-frying or grilling the tofu, ensure you pat it dry and use a non-stick pan or a drizzle of oil to prevent it from sticking.
Chickpea Tofu FAQs
While chickpea tofu has a unique nutty flavor that differs slightly from tofu, it can be used in many of the same dishes. Although the taste is different, both are great sources of protein.
Absolutely! Just like soy tofu, chickpea tofu absorbs flavors very well. Marinate it in your favorite sauces or spices for at least 30 minutes.
Yes, this recipe is naturally gluten-free, making it a great choice for those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Always check other ingredients in your recipe to ensure they are gluten-free as well.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 3 cups water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- In a pot, whisk together all of the ingredients, ensuring there are no lumps. Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Once simmering, the batter will quickly thicken to the consistency of gloopy mashed potatoes, about 4-5 minutes. Once it reaches this consistency, remove the pot from the heat.
- Once the mixture has thickened, pour it into a greased or parchment paper-lined baking dish. Smooth the top with a spatula and let it sit at room temperature for about 1-2 hours until it firms up, then transfer it to the fridge with a cover on.
- After the tofu has set, unmold it on a cutting board. Slice it into your desired shapes — cubes, slabs, or strips, depending on your recipe preference. Cook it how you would regular tofu!