Soy-Free Tofu

When I’m working on books I never really know what recipes to share on the blog, and what can wait for the book.  This is something I knew I had to share right away.

It’s not the same as soy tofu – it doesn’t have the same texture or taste, but it is a protein-rich medium for all kinds of delicious sauces (like chermoula, pictured above), or to be fried up and used in a variety of recipes, like the grain-free pad thai from my next book, pictured below.

It can also be cut into chip shapes, shallow fried and enjoyed as a high-protein alternative to potato chips, to turn a chip sandwich into a balanced meal.

I’ve based my recipe around a combination of things – Burmese tofu has been traditionally made with chickpea flour for a long time, but typically involves a lot of prep time and tricky steps, and while this would reduce the phytic acid in the tofu, it makes the process a lot slower.  With my recipe the tofu can be ready to use in under 45 minutes.  If you’re good with planning ahead and want to make the tofu as nutritious as possible then the batter can definitely be soaked for 8 hours or more before heating it up, otherwise enjoy this cheap, fast and tasty homemade alternative to tofu.

Soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free, low fat, nightshade-free, onion- and garlic-free, under 45 minutes
Makes 4-6 serves


2 1/2 cups chickpea flour (besan)
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups cold water


Line or grease a 20x30cm (8×12″) pan.

In a heavy-bottomed chef’s pan, frying pan or saucepan place the chickpea flour and salt, and squash out any lumps.  Add water a little at a time, making sure that no lumps form.

Turn on the heat to medium and stir continuously until very thick.  I make this on an electric stove in a 9 1/2″ (24cm) chef’s pan and it takes around 7 minutes.  If you’re using a gas stove it will be quicker, if you’re using a smaller saucepan it will take longer.

As soon as the mixture is very thick, quickly spread it into the prepared pan, pressing to form a flat, even surface (it will set very quickly).  Leave to set for at least half an hour before using as tofu.

To remove from the pan first slice into whatever shape you want them to be, and gently lift up.  I find that lining the pan with a silicon baking mat or some baking paper makes it a lot easier to remove.

This will keep in the fridge for up to a week and can be used in all kinds of recipes that call for tofu.

Satay Soy-Free Tofu

This post has been shared on Pennywise Platter, Wellness Weekend, Whole Food FridaysandHealthy Vegan Fridays

Posted on July 27, 2012, in cooking, recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 42 Comments.

  1. I love tofu, but I bet I’d love this, too! Thanks so much for sharing at WellnessWeekend. Great recipe!:)

  2. I could cry! You are amazing! This recipe will change my life! Due to intolerances I have to eat soy/gluten/yeast free and I have to miss out on so many cool recipes. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Xxxx

  3. This amazing. You have changed my life with this. I am forever grateful xxx

  4. Beginner’s question: When you say “soak the batter,” do you mean mixing the ingrediants and leaving them alone in the fridge?

  5. Just made some. Used one of my secret spice blends and it was amazing! Better than tofu.

  6. Amazing – there are recipes that I have wanted to try and now I can! Thanks for sharing on Wellness Weekend!

  7. Wow this is so cool! I don’t have a problem with soy, though I try and keep my intake down, so this is great!

    Thanks for submitting it to Healthy Vegan Friday 🙂

  8. Hi Hilda,
    What a great recipe! Thanks for sharing it at Whole Food Fridays! I have to be really careful how much soy I eat, so this is something I would really like to try! 🙂

  9. While making dinner, I tried yet another recipe (Fish Sticks) from your book, and my daughter said she’d try them only because they were from your book (that’s how much we love it). I found myself thinking how much I wish you’d publish another one. So, I thought I’d check in on your blog, an low and behold, you’re working on another one. Any idea when it’ll be available in the USA?

    • 🙂

      Glad to hear your family likes the book so much.

      I am hoping to have the new book out by the end of October but have no definite release date for it at this stage, there is still some work to do on it so it may be a little longer. If you sign up to the mailing list on the right hand side of this page you’ll get my new blog posts sent to your email, and I will definitely be posting on here when it’s out so that is probably the best way of keeping up to date on the progress.

  10. Evra Inéz Reese

    Reblogged this on Atomic Vegan and commented:
    I will be trying this recipe tomorrow, and I’ll be frying it in an asian dish and cutting it up as fries/chips to go along with a lentil burger as a straight-protein meal! Hopefully Kim Snyder would be proud…

  11. classic recipe in the south of France….We call that Panisse….

  12. I am SO glad I came across this recipe! This is so easy and fun. I used it in a pot pie to bring to Christmas dinner at the house of a carnivorous family who all liked it, and the rest in a breakfast scramble the next day.

    It takes in flavor more quickly than tofu, and the texture is better. I avoid soy because it’s an iodine blocker and I am deficient, but miss how easy throwing meals together is when you have a block in the fridge. I will be making this weekly. Life-changing. Easier than seitan.

  13. Can I use the garbanzo bean/fava bean flour in this?

  14. Thank you so much for this!!! I’ve been trying to go vegan for a while now and it has been so hard with allergies to gluten and soy. Can’t wait to try this :))

  15. Hello;
    thank you for this, however, I get VERY sick on besan in any of the Bob’s mixes I have tried, and I cannot have dairy, soy, gluten, grapes and now, suddenly, potatoes. Can this be made from another flour, like rice, etc.? Thank you so much for speaking to those of us with food allergies.

  16. I stirred like crazy but the mixture went really lumpy in the pan – must have done something wrong 😦

    • What were you stirring with? And were you scraping the bottom of the pan while stirring, or just lightly stirring?

      I usually start stirring with a fork, and then once it starts to thicken change right away to a wooden spatula, making sure to scrape the bottom. There are some lumps to begin with, but after a short time it’s smooth and very thick.

  17. Before I start making it … it’s sort of polenta right?

  18. I just made this for the first time and it’s been setting in the fridge all day and I just touched it and it’s super sticky and not “set”-it’s just “wet flour”…..any idea what I did wrong? ;-( I followed the directions exactly – even just reread them to try and figure it out but can’t tell. Thanks

    • It sounds like the most likely thing to have happened is that you didn’t cook it for long enough.

      You may be able to rescue it by putting it back in the pan and heating while stirring until it’s hot again and very difficult to stir. At the end of stirring it should require a lot of effort to stir, and when you’re putting it into the mould it needs to be quickly spread out with a spoon or wet hands, because it won’t pour in or settle itself, it should be really really thick. If it isn’t at this consistency then you need to either cook it for longer, or it may be that there is a big difference between your flour and the flour that I use.

      Please let me know if this works – if it doesn’t then I’ll have a go at measuring the amount of flour I use by weight to see if that helps at all.

  19. I made this a while back successfully but I remember it getting mushy and soft when I cooked/fried it. I ended up just making sauces and mixing it in at the last minute. I have soy free guests again and I want to marinate and bake it like tofu but am afraid it will turn into mush. Any tips on how to cook with this?

    • Baking it works really well and is easier to handle than frying it. I first brush a baking sheet with oil, put fairly thin slices of tofu on it, then brush the tofu with more oil – this makes for crispy golden edges and works really well as a substitute for fried paneer in Indian dishes (I’ll often mix some nutritional yeast and a little vinegar into the batter before I cook it if I’m using it for this). Baking it in a sauce or marinade is also delicious – one of my favourites is to crush some garlic in a pestle and mortar, add some rosemary, a bit of salt and some oil and a tiny bit of wine vinegar.

      I’m not sure how it works for soaking up marinades like tofu before cooking – it’s not as porous as tofu so it may not absorb as much flavour from it, but if you leave the marinade on it while baking it should work, or another option is to include some of the marinade ingredients in the batter.

  20. Since tofu is made from soy milk, can’t one make it using almond, coconut or hazelnut milk instead of lentils?
    I would love to know about this. Thank you!

    • You could try it with homemade nut milks, but I’m not sure if it would work as well as soy milk.

      I can’t imagine that coconut milk would work at all, and packaged nut milks are often really watered down and don’t contain much protein so probably wouldn’t work either. I think it’s the protein in the soy milk that makes it coagulate and turn into tofu when calcium carbonate is added.

      Another option could be to make a ‘milk’ out of white beans or something similar in the same way that soy milk is made, and then make tofu with that.

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