If you like tofu but don’t want to eat too much soy beans, you are going to love this recipe. When I think of dishes that could mimic tofu, Burmese-style tofu comes to mind. It uses chickpea flour as an equally high-protein replacement for soybeans but it had a definite chickpea taste that I didn’t always want. Come to think of it, it is another version of ‘socca’, the popular thin pancake that is found is the South of France (under the name ”Panisse) or in Italy (called ‘farinata’) that dates back centuries ago. So I wanted to find something else that would be milder in flavor. Then one day I caught a video online showing the use of red lentils to make a tofu-like product with a slight pink hue.
The result looked amazing, it got me intrigued so I had to try it. Will it taste as good as it looked? The recipe only had 3 ingredients (and one of them was salt!) so how hard could it be? After looking online, I found out that the creator of this recipe is Camila from PowerHungry.com. Bravo for discovering that lentils can make these delicate cakes.
Health benefits of pink lentils
Did you know that pink lentils are loaded with B-vitamins: B6, pantothenic acid, thiamine, and B9 also knows as folate? Pregnant women should incorporate them in their daily meals because one cup of cooked red lentils provides 90% of the 400 micrograms of folate needed daily! You can eat them in stir fries or soups like dahl. Eating a variety of pulse will reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes and heart disease thanks to its high fiber, protein, magnesium and iron content.
Changes to the original recipe
I tried her recipe and made a few small changes (you know me with recipes) to add a little more flavor and texture and was very happy with the result. Using just water made the tofu a little bland, so I replaced it with 1.5 cup boiling vegetable or mushroom broth.
I used 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk (oat, rice, etc.) to add more creaminess.
How to prepare pink lentils
Pink or coral lentils do not usually require soaking because they are very tender. If you have a high speed blender, process the lentils until you get a fine flour. If you don’t have a powerful blender, you can just do a quick blanch by pouring 1.5 cup of boiling water over the 1 cup of lentils and let them expand for 10 minutes. Then blend.
If you have ever made regular tofu from soy beans, you will know that it takes 6-12 hours for the soaking, then blending, then boiling of the beans, followed by the addition of salt and acid coagulants. Not exactly a quick process! So the fact that you can make this lentil tofu in a few hours is pretty exciting!
I was also amazed to see that 1 cup of coral lentils made enough tofu for a large appetizer. I made cubes, squares, triangles and fries to see which one worked best. Lentil tofu can be pan fried, baked or air fried. Each methods produces a slightly different texture. Pan fried yielded a softer and more tender tofu. Baked and air fried creates a very crispy, a little dryer tofu that you will want to dip into your favorite sauce.
This tofu will keep refrigerated for a week. It can also be frozen. So double the recipe to save time.
What does red lentil tofu taste like?
Regular tofu is made with soy beans that leave a definite beany taste. Pink lentils on the other hand have a wonderful earthy and delicate flavor that can be transformed with just about any spice or sauces. The pinkish color also lends itself to further experimentation. I was thinking that I may play with it to create a salmon filet from it. Time will tell. Stay tuned!
- High speed blender
- Baking sheet or air frier
- baking dish
- 1 cup pink coral lentils rinsed
- 1.5 cup boiling water or vegetable broth
- 1 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- pinch sea salt
- pinch pepper
- Rinse the red lentils.
- Make 1.5 cup of broth by adding a tablespoon of broth (powder or paste) into boiling water.
- Combine the lentils with the broth and blend until smooth.
- Pour the batter into a saucepan, add 1 cup of non-dairy milk and cook on medium heat.
- Keep whisking until the liquid starts to thicken and pull away from the sides.
- Pour into a square baking dish and smooth the surface with the spatula. Refrigerate until cooled and firmed. The longer it cools down the firmer it will be.
- Flip the dish onto a cutting board and cut into any shape: cubes, strips, triangles. etc.
- Taste and season with soy sauce, fresh or dry herbs, chili sauce, you name it.
- You can pan fry, bake or air-fry your tofu. Spray a little oil, sprinkle your favorite spices.
- Air fry for 15 minutes, or bake at 375F for 15 minutes.
- Serve hot to preserve the crispiness with your favorite dipping sauce.