Here is another invention of clever aunty and her fusion cooking. She uses tofu as a substitute for paneer in a lot of recipes. In the summer the kale can be substituted for peppers, red and green add a nice contrast of colours. However, I have adapted the recipe ever so slightly by lightly frying the tofu in a mixture of chilli and sesame seeds. I created the raita with the leftover kale. I had bought a 150g pack of Pentland Brig kale from Waitrose as I wanted to purchase kale grown here in the UK. You may wish to check the packaging. My mum will often use spinach to make a raita, and as we hate waste, I thought it would be a good idea to use it immediately as a raita always makes a nice accompaniment. You can also serve the pilau with any pickles of your choice and a side of finely sliced onions drizzled in some lemon/vinegar.


Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: approx. 12 – 14 minutes

Freezing – not suitable


As with most of our recipes containing tofu, this can be substituted for paneer if desired.



300g tofu (drain water – see tofu bhurji recipe), cut into large cubes, I had bought this tofu from Marks and Spencer and found it had a really good texture

100g kale (thick stalks removed and roughly shredded)

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper/chilli powder

1 teaspoon black sesame seeds

1 medium onion – roughly chopped

4 black cardamoms (bash these with a rolling pin so that you also get the seeds)

2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

8-10 cloves

1 level teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper/chilli powder

½ teaspoon turmeric

5 tablespoons of mild salsa (if you want a kick use hot salsa)

2 – 3 cinnamon sticks (should be about 1 inch in length)

1 cup rice (we use the American cup size, weighs 210g – you can use any cup/small mug, and just use that to measure the water)

3 – 3.5 tablespoons of sunflower oil

A large non-stick frying pan is ideal



1. Place the cayenne pepper/chilli powder and the sesame seeds on a large plate, mix. Lightly coat the tofu pieces in this mixture. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a pan and gently fry the tofu pieces, ensuring all of the sides of the tofu are a nice golden colour. You may need to do this in 2 batches, and you may need to top up with a little more oil for the second batch. Drain on a piece of kitchen paper. Wipe the plan clean. This stage can be done a day in advance or omitted if you prefer.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil on a medium heat, add the spices. They will sizzle and release a lovely aroma. Please note that the roasting of spices should always be on a low to medium heat, otherwise they will burn and result in a bitter flavour.

3. Add the onions and kale, salt, turmeric and cayenne/chilli powder – sauté for about 5 minutes. Whilst this is sautéing, wash the rice several times in cold water until the water runs clear.

4. Add the salsa to the mixture, and then the tofu. Stir gently, otherwise the tofu will break. Add the rice and 2 cups of water. Stir and dip a spoon into the liquid, taste to check you are happy with the seasoning. Add more salt/chilli if desired.

5. Cover with a lid, bring the rice to a rapid boil, and then turn the heat down to low-medium. After a further 5 minutes turn the heat down to its lowest setting.

6. Stir gently after about 10 minutes. Tip – if you place a flat frying pan/tawa under the frying pan, your rice will never stick! The rice should be cooked after approximately 12 – 14 minutes; it should be nice and fluffy and the grains should be separate.

NB – remember do not eat the whole spices.


Kale and apple raita

300ml plain yogurt (I always use Yeo valley organic yoghurt) – substitute alternative if vegan

50g kale (remove tough stalks)

1 small apple, tart if possible (cut into very small pieces)

Roasted coriander seeds to garnish – optional (dry roast these in a small frying pan)



1. Steam the kale for no more than a minute, pat dry on kitchen towel/clean tea-towel to remove excess moisture. Cut finely once cooled.

2. Place the kale, apple and yogurt in a bowl, mix, add salt to taste. Chill before serving.

If you wish, dry roast some coriander seeds in a small pan, and when cool, sprinkle over the yoghurt.

NB – I had run out of yoghurt, and so this was a really thick raita! You can always add more yoghurt if you like though, there are no hard and fast rules. Whatever takes your fancy.