My mom is a hardcore vegetarian and has never even eaten Eggs in her life. When we were growing up she regularly made Non vegetarian food for us but she never ate it herself. So when we used to pester her to make a meat dish for dinner and there was no meat available she would make Soya nuggets for us and tell us that it was Goat meat. If you have seen Soya Nuggets they do look like a odd shaped pieces of meat when they are cooked and gullible that we were we obviously believed her and ate huge quantities of these power packed goodness thinking that it was Goat meat or as she called it the “Vegetarian dish that is dressed up as meat in a fancy dress party”.
I grew up loving Soya nuggets and every time I make them they somehow bring back some fond memories of childhood.
The versatile Soya bean is a great source of fiber, vitamins, calcium, amino and omega-3 fatty acids and can be cooked in various ways. Soya Nuggets have a very mild woody taste and hence can be used in a lot of different gravies and rice preparations. My favorite way to make this amazing health food is in a Tomato Gravy which my mom used to make, it somehow still gives me the illusion that I am eating meat.
You can either make this in wet gravy to serve with Rice or a dry one to have with Chapattis. I usually like to make it when I have guests coming over who eat Non Veg food but there is that one special guest who only eats Vegetarian food. The best thing about this dish is that it tastes even better if you leave it overnight and it looks like an elaborately prepared dish without you slogging in the kitchen for hours.
If you live abroad you can get the nuggets in an Indian shop very easily. This is how they look.
Soya nuggets have to be blanched in hot water first before you cook them as they are quiet hard.
So I boil some water in the microwave or on the gas and add the Tomatoes in that water. Once the water is boiled and the Tomato skin starts to break, I turn the gas off, let the water rest for 5 minutes and just dump the nuggets on top of them in the same water.
Remember you don’t have to boil the nuggets as they will get over cooked. Keep them aside for 10 minutes till you prepare the gravy or they become soft. Once they have become soft squeeze them with both your palms and drain out all the water and keep them aside.
If you notice both the pictures the nuggets are almost the same size before and after removing them from the hot water. I have done the crime of over boiling them in the past and completely destroying the taste and texture making them taste like boiled rubber.
Recipe (cooking time 40 minutes, serves 6)
2 cups Soya Nuggets (I have used the big ones)
2 medium sized Onions
3 – 4 medium sized Tomatoes (because this is a Tomato based Gravy I have increased the quantity of Tomatoes. You can go for 2 Tomatoes and 1 Tbsp Tomato Puree as well)
1 ½ tsp Ginger Garlic Paste
2 Bay leaves
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 ½ tsp Red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp Coriander powder
2 -3 small Cinnamon sticks
1 tsp Garam masala powder
Oil to sauté the gravy
2 -3 Potatoes chopped (Optional)
Freshly chopped Coriander
1) Heat the Oil in a Pan and add the Cumin seeds, Bay leaves and Cinnamon sticks.
2) Once the seeds start to sputter add the roughly chopped Onions, Ginger and Garlic paste.
3) Once the onions have become translucent add the blanched Tomatoes (or Tomato puree)
4) Switch the gas of and let the mixture cool down for a few minutes before you puree it in a grinder.
5) Heat the same pan and transfer the puree and let it cook till the oil starts to separate.
6) Now add the Soya nuggets and Potatoes to the masala and sauté for a good 8 – 10 minutes till the masala has is coated really well on the nuggets.
7) The nuggets must soak up all the masala and become very dry. I like my nuggets dry so I add around 2 cups water and let the Potatoes cook and turn the heat off before adding a handful of chopped Coriander.
If you like it to be a little watery then add a little more water. One thing to remember is that one must not over cook the nuggets or they nuggets will swell up and the dish would loose it’s flavor.
Serve with hot rotis or plain boiled rice.