Smothered African Tofu

You may have noticed that in the last year or so, I have been really going to town with spices and exotic flavors. I am honestly surprised at how my palate has evolved. In the early days of the blog, I hardly used any spices other than salt and that is not really even a spice. But, now? I have a fully stocked spice rack and I am no longer afraid to experiment.

When I was growing up my Mother cooked often but honestly, she hardly even used salt! So when I think back to how I used to cook, everything was kind of plain. But, after some time, and few inspirational cookbooks, I started to get adventurous and my taste buds evolved. Not only did I want spice, but I even started wanting spicy spices!

I am not just talking curry powder and chili powder. I am talking Mexican oregano, Sazon, Adobo, coriander, chipotles in adobo, pasilla chiles, Ceylon cinnamon and cardamom, just to name a few. They are on the bench waiting for inspiration to hit!

Which is exactly what happened one day while watching The Chew. I learn a lot from this show – techniques, flavor combinations, etc. – and this recipe is no exception. Carla Hall cooked it and Michael Symon and Clinton Kelly went crazy for it. I couldn’t stop thinking about the flavors and woke up the next day knowing what I be making for dinner. And, I had everything on hand to make it!

I veganized the recipe by using tofu and changed it up the method just a bit to accommodate my style of cooking. You can see the original recipe here. We devour this dish every time I make it. Thanks Carla Hall!


  • This is a three pot, stovetop recipe.
  • It takes as long as it takes to make the rice.
  • The other option is to make the sauce ahead of time and reheat it when ready to serve.

Smothered African Tofu

A super flavorful tofu dish using traditional African flavors! 

Course Main Course
Servings 2 plates



  • 1 box extra firm tofu (I like Soy Boy)
  • 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

African Smother

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 red or orange bell pepper
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 ripe banana, mashed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt, a few pinches

Yellow Rice

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • Turmeric, a few shakes
  • Salt, a pinch


  1. To make the rice, add to a pot and sprinkle with a few shakes of turmeric and salt. Cook according to the package. 

  2. To make the smother, dice the onion, bell pepper and jalapeno pepper and add to a pan. Water or oil sautรฉ until everything starts to soften. 

  3. Add the cinnamon, cumin, curry, cayenne and thyme and stir to coat all of the vegetables. 

  4. Add the tomato paste and stir around to wake it up.

  5. Add the water, mashed banana, bay leaf and a few pinches of salt and cook until the sauce has reduced and it is nice and thick, about 10 minutes.

  6. To make the tofu, cut it into 4 equal thick pieces. Heat a cast iron skillet and add 1 teaspoon oil. When it is hot, add the tofu, season it with salt and pepper, and let it sizzle and brown the first side. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the top and then turn the tofu over to brown the other side.

  7. To serve, place the rice on a platter. Top with the tofu. Smother with the sauce. Serve with extra lime, if desired. Enjoy hot!

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