Tofu Chilli with Broccoli

By Published On: 4 Sep '23Last Updated: 14 Apr '24

The best and easiest ever Tofu Chilli recipe with flavours of garlic, soy and sweet chilli sauce on a bed of broccoli, topped with the crunch of walnuts. Yum!

Tofu Chilli with broccoli

Inspired by a very special person, who informed me that she was also inspired by a Burmese colleague/friend, is the simplest Tofu chilli with Broccoli recipe, which can change your mind if you think tofu is tasteless and hard to cook.

All recipes are storytelling and here’s the story behind this easy yet delicious Tofu Chilli recipe!

Daphne is the inspiration...

Daphne and Dom are much more than friends for us. They collectively did our wedding photography back in 1988, all for the love of photography and not for a remuneration, during a time when we were new migrants in Australia. We were just starting out in a brand-new country and Daphne and Dom were honing their photography skills at that time. For us, this gesture was a blessing from heaven above at the most crucial time! Perhaps our second encounter with Angels, the first being Gladys, the sister-in-law of Daphne! That inspirational story of Gladys's amazing and spontaneous generosity towards me at the hour of my need, in my blog at 'A Rose for my Guardian Angel'!

Apart from photography, Daphne has made an extremely valuable contribution to education spanning 45 years. She was awarded with a Minister of Education Award for her outstanding skills and dedicated service to education.

Daphne is a gifted person and in a collaborative effort with family and friends has authored a book named Sarasvati’s Legacy, in which she has captured many family photographs and most of all, the treasured family stories. This book is a treasure trove of Daphne's amazing story and the stories of her family! An inspiring must read for those who know Daphne!

Daphne shared this recipe with me during the COVID times. Although I was working from home during COVID, I was unable to try out this dish. When Daphne and Dom invited us for lunch one Sunday afternoon recently, she prepared this delicious tofu dish. I had received glowing reviews from Daphne’s family who had tasted Daphne’s tofu with broccoli, and I was quite excited to have the opportunity to taste it. I tasted one piece of the tofu, for the first time in my entire life and it was at once evident why her family was raving about it.

Daphne’s tofu tasted delicious with flavours of soy and sweet chilli sauce, on a bed of freshly blanched vibrant coloured broccoli. The tofu was bursting with flavour from the garlic and the garnish of walnuts added a tasty textured crunch.

I was deeply inspired by this tofu dish after I tasted it, and thanks to Daphne who was more than willing to share her recipe with me. Daphne has been preparing this tofu dish for some years now and has perfected it. She also shared some tips with me about how to press tofu to remove excess moisture and how to cut tofu into uniform pieces.

Before you proceed with making this tofu dish, it is good to note that tofu does not need to be perfectly square but pieces should be the same size for even cooking or browning.

So, here I am a Mangalorean Indian, in my Australian kitchen, trying out a well-known oriental ingredient but not so popular in an Indian kitchen. I say this, because I have never tasted tofu or cooked it in my kitchen before, but let me tell you, you will love the simplicity of this tofu dish and will cook it over and over again! I have cooked it a few times since I tested it, as my family loves the flavours and the taste of this Tofu Chilli.

Although tofu is an ingredient that is rarely used in an Indian kitchen, this is the tofu dish that will change your perception that tofu is bland, pretentious or strictly for vegetarians!!

what is tofu or bean curd?

Tofu or bean curd is a sustainable protein source and is produced from soy milk. It is a type of cheese although totally vegetable. It is made with soybeans, water and a coagulant (solidifying agent).

It originated in China some 2000 years ago and became popular in the west only in the 1960s when interest in healthy eating grew.

Tofu is low in calories and high in protein and fat. It contains many important vitamins and minerals, including manganese and calcium.

Tofu is an ingredient that is fundamental in Chinese and Japanese cuisine. If you are ever wondering how tofu is made, it is made in a process that is very similar to that used to make cheeses, only that soy is used for making tofu.

Tofu ranges in consistency from soft to extra-firm. In general, firm and extra-firm Chinese-style tofu is best for stir-fries, kababs or dishes that require tofu to hold its shape. Japanese-style silken tofu, whether soft or firm, can hold its shape in soups and even some stir-fries if handled very carefully, and can also be used in other recipes such as dips and sauces.

Tofu or bean curd is prepared from the coagulation of soy milk. Quick-online research revealed that the most frequently used coagulants are calcium sulphate and magnesium chloride. Both these coagulants help preserve the flavour and texture of tofu. Once the liquid is obtained, it is pressed to separate the liquid part of the soybean, something that is also done when making cheese that is obtained from cow’s or goat’s milk.

Pasteurization is frequently used to extend the shelf life of tofu, which has helped bring about a whole new market of tofu and soy-based products, such as tofu pasta, tofu hot dogs, tofu burgers and tofu ice cream.

Tofu is a bland protein on its own due to its consistency and benefits greatly from the flavours and aromas of other ingredients such as sauces, marinades and spices.

Today tofu is given a great use in vegetarian or vegan recipes to replace proteins of animal origin.

how to cut tofu VIDEO

Depending on what dish you are preparing, tofu can be sliced, diced, crumbled or cut into decorative shapes with a biscuit cutter or melon baller.

Before you start cooking, it is best to remove excess moisture from tofu. Removing excess moisture from tofu makes room for other liquids, such as marinades and sauces, to be absorbed and prevents excess liquid from diluting sauces and dressings. It also prevents tofu from spattering when frying.

Watch the video below on how to remove excess moisture and cut tofu into cubes. The video shows how to cut tofu into cubes but for the purpose of this recipe, I have cut tofu into 3½cm x 2cm pieces.

Remember: Tofu cubes do not need to be perfectly square, but they should be the same size for even cooking or browning.

Steps to cut tofu:

  • Place the block of tofu on its side and cut the block in half horizontally.
  • Turn it back flat, cut into half.
  • Cut vertically into strips of required thickness.
  • Give block a quarter turn and, holding tofu gently, slice to make cubes.

the ingredients

This is a version of Tofu Chilli that is prepared with a handful of simple ingredients - the creamy texture of tofu (bean curd) and the crunch of walnuts makes a delightful combination in this vegetarian stir-fry - all brought together in a sweet and spicy sauce.

Firm tofu - Macro perfectly firm tofu is suitable to marinate, grill or stir-fry and that's exactly what I am looking for in my recipe. I want the tofu to hold its shape when frying. You could use any firm tofu, if you like but please do not use tofu marked 'silken' or 'soft' as it is delicate and more suitable for simple dishes that require little handling of the tofu. Find at: most supermarkets, Asian markets and natural food stores in refrigerated plastic containers, refrigerated vacuum-sealed packs or shelf-stable sealed cartons that require no refrigeration until opened. Read the label for texture variations before buying.

Soy sauce - An important component in the marinade and a pre-cooking seasoning. Gives a nice caramel colour and just enriches the flavour of tofu from bland to savoury. Use regular soy sauce. Do not buy dark or light soy sauce. My favourite brand is Kikkoman naturally brewed soy sauce. Substitute: Kikkoman Tamari soy sauce.

Sweet chilli sauce - Adds a slightly sweet, slightly spicy and slightly salty taste. I do not have a favourite brand. Pick a good quality sauce, as we have only two ingredients in this marinade!

Broccoli - Adds a vibrant colour to this hearty Burmese inspired veggie dish, plus broccoli is good for your digestive system. Break into florets and halve larger ones before adding to a pot of boiling water. Blanch in water only for 2-3 minutes once the water comes to a boil after adding broccoli. Add a good pinch of salt to the water, if you like it salted. You can sprinkle some salt directly on to the platter before adding the cooked tofu. I like my broccoli to have the natural taste. The pan juices give it just enough salt for my taste!

Garlic - Garlic infuses an aromatic flavour into the oil and in turn flavours the tofu. Add chopped garlic into the hot oil and cook it for 10-20 seconds only, then move it around to prevent burning, before adding the tofu. If garlic is burnt, it will take a bitter taste and ruin your dish. If garlic is burnt, it is better to start all over.

Walnuts - Great crunchy taste and textured garnish.

Kashmiri chilli powder (optional) - If you want a chilli kick, add a sprinkle in the marinade (about ¼ tsp). I have left the recipe original and hence it is not on my ingredient's palette, as this tofu tastes lovely even without chilli powder. Find at: Some large supermarkets or all Indian grocery stores.

Step-by-step instructions

The full instructions to make this Tofu Chilli with Broccoli is in the recipe card below, but here are some helpful tips to go along with the process photos.

Tip: I buy Chinese-style firm tofu as it is best for stir-fries, kababs or dishes that require tofu to hold its shape. Tofu is available in refrigerated plastic containers, refrigerated vacuum-sealed packs or shelf-stable sealed cartons that require no refrigeration until opened.



Remove tofu from the packaging and drain. Place tofu on three paper towels on a plate or a clean cutting board. Place 3 more paper towels on top and put a weight on top. I used my knife sharpening stone weighing 400g. A griddle or two plates also works well. Stand for 30 minutes.

how to cut tofu (video above)


Cut the block of tofu in half horizontally. Cut vertically into strips of required thickness. Give block a quarter turn and, holding tofu gently, slice to make cubes (see video above). Place cut tofu on paper towels. In the video I have cubed the tofu however, but for this recipe, I have cut into 3½cm x 2cm pieces.

Marinate tofu


Combine soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce and Kashmiri chilli powder (if using) in a glass bowl, gently toss tofu in it. Marinate for 1 hour.

wash and cut broccoli


Wash broccoli and drain well. Peel stems and cut into florets with the length of the stems. If the florets are large, halve them through the length of the stem.

cook broccoli


Add broccoli to 1½ - 2 litres of water and bring to the boil. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until dark green. Drain well and arrange on a warm serving platter. Sprinkle some salt, if you like. I have not added salt!

fry tofu until golden


Place a wide frying pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat the sides. Add garlic and sizzle for a few seconds. Add marinated tofu along with the marinade and fry until golden brown, 1½ minutes on each side, ensuring you do not break tofu when turning.

spoon tofu and sauce over broccoli


Remove tofu from heat. Gently stir so the tofu is coated well with the pan sauce ingredients. Spoon tofu and sauce over broccoli. Serve immediately garnished with walnuts.

Tofu Chilli with broccoli

serving suggestions

  • Serve immediately in a bowl for lunch or dinner as a protein rich, vegetarian carb-free main dish.
  • Get creative and serve as a side dish in Indian style with dhal and hot steamed rice.
  • Serve over hot steamed rice for a complete and delicious meal.
  • The flavour of this tofu pairs well with Chicken Fried Rice for an indulgent dinner option.

If you have tried this recipe, I would love to hear your feedback. Please be sure to rate the recipe and/or leave a comment below. If you want to see more recipe inspirations, you can follow me on Instagram @lavina_mendonsa.

Tofu Chilli with broccoli

Tofu Chilli with Broccoli

Catherine Lavina Mendonsa
This is the best and the easiest Tofu Chilli with flavours of garlic, soy and sweet chilli sauce.  The vibrant bed of broccoli makes this dish nutritious, while the topping of walnuts adds a tasty crunch to the final dish.  This is a winning Tofu Chilli recipe that will change your mind if you think tofu is tasteless and hard to cook.  A must try, if you have never tasted tofu before!