Jul 27, 2010

A tale of tofu and tardy

Punctuality has never been my forte. I have talked about it here before and I have been working on getting there, in time. However, working on something and achieving it are two different things, as is evident by this post for the cool group of Veleveeters, started by Aparna, Asha, Pamela and Alessio, which is late by almost a week.

I was thrilled when they accepted me in their cool circle only to find out that my very first challenge would be making tofu at home and then making a savory or sweet dish out of it. The latter is not that tough but the former! I didn’t even know you could make tofu at home. I mean doesn’t it need industrial sized vats and people scurrying around in surgical gloves and masks? Wrong! Turns out, making tofu at home is as easy as making paneer except you have to make the soy milk first and need to engage two big pots, an assortment of bowls for soaking and straining and a couple of strainers.

I did what everyone who is in a bind does these days. GOOGLE! After that it was just a matter of following links from Pamela’s to fellow newbie Ken to his link to here. I was ready to make soy milk, tofu and a tofu turkey. Ok, I didn’t make the turkey but I made the tofu and it took me a total of 2 hours, not including soybean soaking time. Here’s what I did.

Soak one and a half cup of soybeans in a lot of water. The soak time depends on the weather, anywhere from 8 hours in the summer to 24 hours in the winters. I soaked mine for about 18 hours.

Once soaked, grind them in batches till smooth. I did not know what it meant so I just used my idli/ dosa batter consistency measure. In my trusty Breville, it took me all of three minutes for each batch.

Boil about 5-6 cups of water in a big pot (and I mean the biggest pot you have). Add the pureed soybeans to the boiling water and at medium heat keep stirring till the mix starts to foam and froth. Sprinkle a few drops of cold water if it is threatening to spill over and it will threaten to spill over.

Once the mix boils, turn the heat down and let it simmer for about ten minutes before turning off the heat.

Strain in a colander lined with a cheese cloth. I just used a thin cotton towel from India. Make sure there is a big pot to catch the strained liquid, which is your soymilk.

The stuff you catch in the top is called okara and supposed to be very nutritious and full of protein and other good stuff. I don’t know any use for it at the moment. If I do, will let you know.

pparently, the strained soymilk can be kept in the refrigerator for a couple of days and used like regular store bought store milk. I did not have the time or patience to find out, so I proceeded to make tofu out of it.

The coagulant: Lime Juice
Wash the big pot you boiled the bean paste in and transfer the soymilk in it. Bring to a gentle simmer and then turn off the heat. While the milk is reaching its simmer point, squeeze juice of five to six limes and mix it with a glass of water. I had approximately 1/4 cup of lime juice. This will be your coagulant.

Take the soymilk off the heat and add the watered down lime juice to the cooling soymilk. Stir till it starts to separate into curds and whey. Cover and leave the kitchen for 15 minutes. I vacuumed the living room.
Come back and line the biggest strainer you have with another thin cotton towel/ napkin. Place it on the kitchen sink and dump the coagulated contents in it.

Let as much liquid drain as you can. Carefully lift the towel by the edges and wrap is tightly around its contents. Try to squeeze as much water out as you can.

Place it on the above mentioned colander, with a lid and some weights on top. I used a big can of garbanzo beans.
Depending on how soft or firm you like your tofu, keep the weights anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes.

Take the weights off and rinse the tofu in a big bowl under running water, taking care not to hit the tofu directly.
To store, cover tofu with water and store in an air tight container.

Between completing my assignments for school, a doctor visit and carting the four year old to and fro to his activities, I did not have enough time to cook the tofu I made. The recipe will be coming soon, I promise.

This post was perfect for my B2B event, but the Velveteers’ code forbids me to enter it for any other event, including my own. And after being late for my first task, I dare not break another rule, because I intend to stick around for a while.

If you have stuck around till the end of this post, do pop on over to Sra, who won the title contest and is thus entitled to eight more links from me.


  1. Welcome on board, Velveteers! It may be late but it's a great post. I'm glad you enjoyed the challenge all the same. Looking forward to seeing what you make out of it.

  2. where'd u get the soya beans???
    h mart??

  3. Jaya, I am feeling exhausted after just reading the process of tofu making. Hats off to you, managing so many things and making something so time consuming!

    I don't quite care for tofu and stay as away from it as I possibly can :)

  4. Like I told Aparna,I didn't even think of making tofu at home as i get it fresh everyday right at my doorstep.But I am going to try this soon :).Good attempt and looking forward to the tofu dish :)

  5. You step by step photos are clear and precise. I was pretty tardy myself, love to see what you'll make with the tofu.

  6. Amazing! I haven't tried making soymilk and tofu at home-- haven't even really thought of doing so. Love how the tofu looks like a giant idli :)

  7. Next I will be seeing a cow in your yard. But seriously it does make sense to know where the whole thing is coming from.
    Great effort

  8. Cooking Ninja, thank you. :)

    Rashi, I got the soybeans at an Asian store.

    Aqua, it wasn't exhausting though it was a bit time consuming. I have grown to love tofu over the years. Maybe you need the right dish.

    PJ, if you get fresh tofu everyday, I don't think you want to make it from scratch. Or maybe get pure soy milk and then make the tofu.

    Ken, will keep you posted.

    Vaishali, I was thinking of you when I made the tofu. So can I expect to see this soon on Holy Cow?

    BM, LOL. No cow in my yard, yet. And you are right, about knowing where the food comes from. I was watching this docu the other day and a dairy farmer was saying the same thing. Go see where your milk comes from. See how the cows are treated...

  9. I am amazed on how you whipped up tofu at home in between the chores. Can't wait to try it

  10. i always thought and also read somewhere that its quite difficult to make tofu at home..but you have made it look so easy and so doable though it does involves some effort..great job!!

  11. That's awesome Jaya. The tofu looks great. I never thought you could actually make it at home and it is quite a task. May be I will try it sometime. Thanks for such well written and detailed post.

  12. woaw, I am really impressed by your home-made tofu! looks like an adventure, but it is so good to make it fresh!

  13. I don't have such big vessels, to start with. It all looks good and very interesting. Thanks for the links :)

  14. Goodness Jaya, I cannot even imagine the effort you put in for making this. Quite frankly before this I did not even know that Tofu could be made at home. (atleast now I know).


  16. Jaya, tofu? you made at home? really?!!? Oh my!! I could never think of doing so. I am sure it tastes much better than store bought.

  17. At least now I know you can make tofu at home and apparently it looks as easy as paneer :-)

    my grandma would make fresh soy milk for my grandpa at home. But that is as far as I can think. Looks like a long long process. Kudos to you.


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