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Chili Tofu – Instant Pot, Air Fryer, Stove Top

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Chili Tofu is a Indo-Chinese dish made with bell peppers, onions, tofu, and tossed in a flavorsome sauce that is hot, spicy, sweet and sour. Perfect for busy weeknights dinner or even for a company. Make this restaurant style Chili Tofu at home with this easy step by step recipe. This dish is vegan, nut-free, gluten-free.

 

Chili Tofu - Instant Pot, Air Fryer, Stove Top

 

INDO-CHINESE CUISINE

Indo-Chinese cuisine is an adaption to Chinese technique of cooking and seasoning, to suit Indian taste. The cuisine is said to be originated from the Chinese immigrants residing in Calcutta, West Bengal, back in the 19th century, time of British rule in India.

Growing up in India, I remember, there was an Indian restaurant, that served amazing Indo-Chinese food. We thoroughly enjoyed this sizzling, hot and spicy Indo-Chinese served at our local Indian restaurant.

It was quite fascinating to watch, the food cooked in a huge, sizzling wok, in minutes. With all the exotic, rich flavored sauces, and a hint of chili-vinegar, added a flavorsome burst in every bite. Loved the crunch in the veggies, with hot, spicy, sweet and sour taste burst going on a roller coaster ride on your tongue!! It was so addictive.

CHILI TOFU

Chili tofu is my take on an popular Indo-Chinese dish Chili Paneer served in Indian restaurants around the globe. Instead of Paneer (Indian Cottage Cheese), I am using Tofu, to keep it light and vegan. This recipe is easily customizable, you can swap tofu with paneer, add any veggies of your liking, spice up the sauce as per liking.

Also, instead of deep frying the tofu, I am air frying it for a healthier version. You can saute the tofu as well, works just fine. I like to add combinations of bell peppers, to add different flavors and color to this dish.

Typically, you want to use the veggies that cook quickly and can resist high heat. Some of the veggies that make a great addition to this dish are broccoli, celery, carrots, baby corn, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, sugar snap peas.

These veggies cook quickly and can resist high heat, means they don’t wilt like the greens, or squash. The veggies hold their crunch, which is exactly what you are looking for in this dish, crunchy veggies in a delightful hot, spicy, sweet, and sour sauce.

 

Chili Tofu - Instant Pot, Air Fryer, Stove Top

 

INGREDIENTS FOR CHILI TOFU

14 oz FIRM TOFU

1 large red bell pepper

1 large orange bell pepper

1 large red onion

4-5 cloves garlic

1/2 inch ginger

2 tablespoon oil

FOR THE SAUCE / GRAVY

1/4 cup DARK SOY SAUCE, For gluten-free use TAMARI 

1/2 tablespoon PURE SESAME OIL

1 tablespoon BLACK VINEGAR

1 tablespoon VEGAN WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE

2 tablespoon CHILI GARLIC SAUCE

2 tablespoon TOMATO KETCHUP

1 tablespoon CORN STARCH

 3/4 cup water 

FOR GARNISH

2 stalks green onion

1 tablespoon  SESAME SEEDS

Handful of roasted PEANUTS or CASHEWS (optional)

STEP BY STEP RECIPE FOR CHILI TOFU

PREP FOR CHILI TOFU

Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes. Saute or air fry the tofu, keep it aside.

Chop the veggies – bell peppers, onion, into bite-size pieces. Finely mince garlic, chop ginger, keep it aside.

Mix all the ingredients listed under the sauce, keep it aside.

 

 

STOVE TOP SAUTE TOFU

You will need non-stick pan

Heat a tablespoon of oil, once the oil is hot, add the tofu.

Cook the tofu for 2-3 minutes on each side or until light brown in color.

Remove the tofu from the pan and keep it aside.

AIR FRYER FRIED TOFU

You will need Instant Pot Instant Vortex Plus or Air Fryer

Grease the cooking tray with some cooking oil. Place the tofu pieces in a single layer.

Select AIR FRY, set the temperature to 400°F and the time to 10 minutes. Press START.

When it displays “Add Food”, place the cooking tray at the top. Place the drip pan in the bottom most position.

When it displays “Turn Food”, do nothing.

When the AIR FRY is complete, check tofu for desired crispness. If required add additional minutes of cooking time.

Remove the cooking tray and keep it aside.

 

 

HOW TO MAKE CHILI TOFU

Once you are done with the prepping – chopping all the veggies, air frying or sauteing the tofu, and prepared the sauce. It’s time for this quick and delicious chili tofu stir fry. 

Note: Maintain constant high-heat while stir frying for the best results.

STOVE TOP CHILI TOFU

You will need a wok 

Heat oil in a wok on a high heat. Once the oil is hot, add bell pepper, onions.

Saute for 2-3 minutes on high heat, to retain the crunch in the veggies.

 

 

Add the prepared sauce, and mix well.

Sauce will start to thicken as it gets cooks, around 2-3 minutes. Add the air fried tofu.

 

 

Toss the veggies, and tofu in the sauce to coat evenly.

Cook for, 1-2 minutes, for all the flavors to blend in well or until the desired sauce consistency. 

Turn off the heat. Garnish with some green onions, and some sesame seeds. 

Enjoy this delicious Chili Tofu over some steamed white rice.

 

 

INSTANT POT CHILI TOFU

You will need INSTANT POT

Turn ON saute mode (more), when it displays “HOT”, add oil. Once the oil is hot, add bell peppers, onions.

Saute for 2-3 minutes on high heat, to retain the crunch in the veggies.

Add the prepared sauce, and mix well.

Sauce will start to thicken as it gets cooks, around 2-3 minutes. Add the air fried tofu.

Toss the veggies, and tofu in the sauce to coat evenly.

Cook for, 1-2 minutes, for all the flavors to blend in well or until the desired sauce consistency. 

Turn OFF saute mode. Garnish with some green onions, and some sesame seeds. 

Enjoy this delicious Chili Tofu over some steamed white rice.

Pic Shown: Closeup of Chili Tofu

 

Chili Tofu - Instant Pot, Air Fryer, Stove Top

 

PRO TIPS FOR DELICIOUS CHILI TOFU

Prep everything before stir frying. Cube the tofu and saute or air fry it. While tofu is air frying, you can chop all the veggies. Mix the ingredients for the sauce, and set it aside. Once you have prepped everything, it takes less than 10 minutes to complete this dish.

Start with a hot, smoking wok. Once the oil is hot, add all the veggies. Veggies retain its crunch at high heat. Keep the heat to the highest setting for best results. 

Use FIRM tofu for this recipe. Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes. 

Tofu  when sauted adds an additional layer of flavor. You can pan fry or air fry the tofu. For pan fry, I prefer non-stick pan or heavy bottom pan, to prevent the tofu from sticking to it.

For air fryer, make sure you grease the air fryer tray / basket with oil, to prevent sticking of tofu. Generously, spray with some cooking oil for a nice brown color.

You can use any color bell pepper – red, orange, yellow, green. Chop the bell pepper into bite-size pieces.

Use fresh garlic, adds a ton of flavor. Finely mince the garlic.

Ginger adds a nice peppery flavor, use fresh ginger, and finely chop it.

The gravy / sauce can be adjusted as per liking. We like it some sauce / gravy, as I serve this Chili Tofu with some steamed white rice. You can adjust the gravy as per liking. Increase or decrease the amount of water in the sauce / gravy as per liking.

I prefer dark soy sauce compared to the light one. Dark soy sauce is richer and is less salty. Also, gives a nice color and a bold flavor to this dish. You can find dark soy sauce in most of the grocery stores or order it on Amazon.

Use Tamari instead of soy sauce for gluten-free. You can find tamari in most grocery stores or order it on Amazon.

Pure Sesame oil has a great aroma and tastes wonderful in this dish. I think sesame oil makes a huge difference in flavor, a little goes a long way. You can easily find pure sesame oil in Asian grocery stores or order it on Amazon

Moisture in the veggies sometimes makes the sauce runny, adding corn starch slurry helps thicken the sauce. If you feel the sauce / gravy is not thick enough, add some more corn starch slurry. 

 

Chili Tofu - Instant Pot, Air Fryer, Stove Top

 

FAQ ABOUT CHILI TOFU

CAN I USE PANEER INSTEAD OF TOFU – Yes, you can substitute paneer instead of tofu in this recipe, works fine. Paneer cooks relatively quick as compared to tofu. If air frying the paneer, air fry for around 5-6 minutes or until it is slightly brown in color. 

HOW TO STORE CHILI TOFU – Chili tofu stays fresh for 1-2 days in the refrigerator. The sauce thickens as it cool down. While reheating add a tablespoon or so of water to warm it up. Reheat the chili tofu in a wok or in a microwave before serving. 

SERVING SUGGESTIONS FOR CHILI TOFU – I like to serve Chili Tofu as a main course with some steamed white rice. You can also serve this with some vegetable lo-mein or fried rice.

Chili Tofu can also be served as an appetizer. For a dry version of this dish, reduce the amount of water while making the sauce / gravy. You just enough sauce to evenly coat the veggies, and tofu. 

 

Chili Tofu - Instant Pot, Air Fryer, Stove Top

 

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SOME MORE RECIPES FROM BLOG!!

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LOBIA MASALA ( BLACK EYED PEAS CURRY ) 

RAJMA MASALA ( KIDNEY BEANS CURRY )

DAL MAKHANI( MADRAS LENTILS )

MAKHANI MOONG DAL ( SPLIT PETITE YELLOW LENTILS )

MIXED LENTILS DOSA

TIFFIN SAMBAR

DRY COCONUT CHUTNEY

ALOO GOBI (POTATO CAULIFLOWER CURRY)

BAINGAN BHARTA

SARSON DA SAAG (MUSTARD GREENS)

BHARWA BHINDI (STUFFED OKRA)

AIR FRY BHINDI FRY ( OKRA FRY )

CARROT HALWA

HOW TO MAKE PANEER (INDIAN COTTAGE CHEESE)

HOW TO MAKE GHEE

NO FRY GUJIYA (KARANJI)

NO FRY SABUDANA VADA

NO FRY CHAKLI (MURUKKU)

 

Chili Tofu - Instant Pot, Air Fryer, Stove Top

Chili Tofu is a Indo-Chinese dish made with bell peppers, onions, tofu, and tossed in a flavorful sauce that is hot, spicy, sweet and sour. Perfect for busy weeknights dinner or even for a company. Make this restaurant style Chili Tofu at home with this easy step by step recipe. This dish is vegan, nut-free, gluten-free.
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indo-Chinese
Keyword chili tofu, chili paneer
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4
Author Jyoti Behrani

Ingredients

INGREDIENTS FOR CHILI TOFU

  • 14 oz FIRM TOFU, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded, chop into bite-size pieces
  • 1 large orange bell pepper , de-seeded, chop into bite-size pieces
  • 1 large red onion, chop into bite-size pieces
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 inch ginger, chopped
  • 2 tablespoon cooking oil
  • salt to taste

FOR THE SAUCE / GRAVY

FOR GARNISH

Instructions

PREP FOR CHILI TOFU

  • Cut the tofu into 1 inch cubes. Saute or air fry the tofu, keep it aside.
  • Chop the veggies – bell peppers, onion, into bite-size pieces. Finely mince garlic, chop ginger, keep it aside.
  • Mix all the ingredients listed under the sauce, keep it aside.

STOVE TOP SAUTE TOFU

  • You will need non-stick pan
  • Heat a tablespoon of oil, once the oil is hot, add the tofu.
  • Cook the tofu for 2-3 minutes on each side or until light brown in color.
  • Remove the tofu from the pan and keep it aside.

AIR FRYER FRIED TOFU

  • Grease the cooking tray with some cooking oil. Place the tofu pieces in a single layer.
  • Select AIR FRY, set the temperature to 400°F and the time to 10 minutes. Press START.
  • When it displays “Add Food”, place the cooking tray at the top. Place the drip pan in the bottom most position.
  • When it displays “Turn Food”, do nothing.
  • When the AIR FRY is complete, check tofu for desired crispness. If required add additional minutes of cooking time.
  • Remove the cooking tray and keep it aside.

STOVE TOP CHILI TOFU

  • You will need a wok 
  • Once you are done with the prepping – chopping all the veggies, air frying or sauteing the tofu, and prepared the sauce. It’s time for this quick and delicious chili tofu stir fry.
    Note: Maintain constant high-heat while stir frying for the best results.
  • Heat oil in a wok on a high heat. Once the oil is hot, add bell pepper, onions.
  • Saute for 2-3 minutes on high heat, to retain the crunch in the veggies.
  • Add the prepared sauce, and mix well.
  • Sauce will start to thicken as it gets cooks, around 2-3 minutes. Add the air fried tofu.
  • Toss the veggies, and tofu in the sauce to coat evenly.
  • Cook for, 1-2 minutes, for all the flavors to blend in well or until the desired sauce consistency.
  • Turn off the heat. Garnish with some green onions, and some sesame seeds.
  • Enjoy this delicious Chili Tofu over some steamed white rice.

INSTANT POT CHILI TOFU

  • You will need INSTANT POT
  • Turn ON saute mode (more), when it displays “HOT”, add oil. Once the oil is hot, add bell peppers, onions. Saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the prepared sauce, and mix well.
  • Sauce will start to thicken as it gets cooks, around 2-3 minutes. Add the air fried tofu.
  • Toss the veggies, and tofu in the sauce to coat evenly.
  • Cook for, 1-2 minutes, for all the flavors to blend in well or until the desired sauce consistency. 
  • Turn OFF saute mode. Garnish with some green onions, and some sesame seeds. 
  • Enjoy this delicious Chili Tofu over some steamed white rice.

Notes

Please refer to the post for the following
  1. PRO TIPS FOR DELICIOUS CHILI TOFU
  2. FAQ ABOUT CHILI TOFU

Jyoti Behrani

Hello!! Welcome to my blog, my journey Living Smart and Healthy! Cook with me easy and authentic Indian food and around the globe. Will be sharing tips and tricks on easy authentic cooking, without spending hours in the kitchen or comprising on authentic flavors. Keeping things simple and healthy is what I am all about. Life is simple, so lets keep cooking simple too!!

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