Thursday, October 12, 2006

October 11, 2006: North African tempeh tagine

Wednesday morning found us short of cooking ideas, so I flicked through the bold vegetarian cookbook over breakfast searching for some dinner options. Cindy was tired of tofu, I didn't feel like pasta and we'd just had Indian, so there weren't too many options. We settled on this tempeh tagine, mainly because we already had most of the ingredients. We were, however, lacking in tempeh. Used to the vege-friendly bounties of West End Coles in Brisbane, I assumed that the local Safeway would do the trick, but its mock-meat selection is pitiful. Luckily, Cindy checked out Allergy Block on the way to work and came up trumps, so we were ready to go.

North African tempeh tagine

2 medium carrots, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon black pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
2-4 whole cloves
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind paste
1 cup vege stock
1 250g packet tempeh, cubed
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped coarsely
a pinch of salt
a dash of hot sauce

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (I forgot this part of course, so the whole process was thrown into chaos) and then boil the carrot slices for about 5 minutes and then drain them and leave them to one side.

Now for the fun part: roast the spices in a dry frypan for about two minutes, until they start to darken. Once they're roasted, tip them into a mortar and pestle and grind them up (a spice grinder can do the job if you've got one).

This filled the house with a warm, spicy aroma. Unfortunately dinner's still a while away at this point, so you just have to try to push on despite the hunger the delicious smells generate.

Once spices are all ground up, fry up the onion in the olive oil until it's soft and slightly browned and then throw in the garlic. After a couple of minutes, add in the spice powder and fry for another minute or two and then take off the heat.

Next, pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add in the tamaraind paste, carrots, tempeh and the tomatoes and simmer for a few more minutes. We added in a sliced green capsicum here as well just to bulk up the vegetable component of the dish. Finally, stir in the spicy onion mix, the salt and the hot sauce and bring it all back to the boil. After a couple of minutes, transfer the whole pot-load into a covered baking dish and stick it in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Just before the stew is ready to come out of the oven, mix up some instant cous-cous and you're ready to go.

Cindy's artful photo has the saucy stew and the cous-cous on separate sides of the plate, but if you're more concerned by the taste than the asthetic appeal, I'd suggest smothering the cous-cous in as much of the stew as you can. The spices gave the whole dish a potent flavour - strong and spicy without being very hot. I enjoyed the change of texture that the tempeh provides - most of our soy eating has involved tofu and tempeh is firmer and has a powerful taste. The only downside: this recipe only made enough leftovers for modest sized lunches. Which reminds me - eating cous-cous outside on a windy day can be a difficult and messy experience.


  1. Allergy block? Wow. I've been living around here for 3 years and I never knew it existed. Thanks!

    Safeway is crap for anything veg. The best places around here are Piedemontes and the asian places at QV and the Queen Vic.

    Also there's that IGA at the housing block. It seems to be run by Asians and has interesting dumplings and what not. Also at the liquor shop there, I managed to find Two Dogs long after it had disappeared from every other bottle-o. But that's cos it was scungy old.

  2. We've just discovered the vege stuff at the IGA, but hadn't heard of Piedemontes. We'll have to check it out. Allergy block has a few faux-meat products, but it's not as chock-full of choice as I'd hoped.