Red Lentil Tofu is a great alternative for those looking for a soy-free alternative to classic tofu. This recipe is high in protein, nut-free, gluten-free, and really simple to prepare using just two ingredients (lentils and water). The texture is really similar to regular tofu and it has a delicious flavor.
What is Red Lentil Tofu?
You can now make your own tofu with just two ingredients. Red Lentil Tofu is a plant-based protein made from red lentils, water, and salt. Really similar to Burmese Tofu or Chickpea Tofu, this type has a simple cooking method that makes it a perfect protein for those who are looking for something healthy, nutritious, and easy to make. This TikTok recipe is inspired by PowerHungry.
Difference between Soy Tofu and Red Lentil Tofu
While both soy tofu and red lentil tofu are great sources of plant-based protein, there are a few differences between the two:
- Ingredients: Soy tofu is made from soybeans, while red lentil tofu is made from red lentils. Red Lentil Tofu is an ideal option for those who are sensitive to soy or simply want to mix things up with a new protein source. Both our kids love regular tofu but they enjoy this type of tofu as well. We find that this is another great way to offer legumes, especially for picky eaters.
- Different properties: Red lentil tofu tends to be higher in fiber, and in comparison, soy tofu is slightly higher in protein content.
- Taste and texture: Traditional tofu and lentil tofu have a slightly different texture. We find that lentil tofu has a mildly nutty flavor, that we really love. If you are worried that it will have a strong raw lentil taste, don't worry, you won't even notice the lentil taste. Just a little salt helps to enhance the flavor of this protein. It has a bouncy and smooth texture before cooking, and it takes on a firmer consistency after being cooked, similar to chickpea tofu. Soy tofu, on the other hand, has a more neutral flavor, which makes it a versatile base for absorbing the flavors of the ingredients it's cooked with.
- Diet: Red lentil tofu is soy-free making it a great sub for soy tofu for people with soy allergies or sensitivities. It's also gluten-free and nut-free, making it an inclusive option for those with specific dietary restrictions.
Health Benefits of Red Lentils
One-half cup of cooked lentils contains 12 grams of protein and when transformed into tofu, it packs even more nutritional value. This makes red lentil tofu a great option for people looking to incorporate more plant-based protein into their diets.
In addition to being high in protein, red lentil tofu is also rich in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Our Red Lentil Tofu is:
- High in protein
- A plant-based protein
How to make Red Lentil Tofu
To make this recipe you will need minimal ingredients: dry red lentils (whole red lentils or split red lentils), water, and optionally a pinch of salt. These are the same ingredient you will need to make these delicious Lentil Wraps.
To make tofu, you need uncooked red lentils. You can find them in most supermarkets, Indian markets, or Asian shops. As well, you could find them online.
If you don't have red lentils and still want to make this recipe, you can use any other type of uncooked lentils.
- Place the red lentils and boiling water into a blender jug and leave them soaking for at least 20 minutes.
- Add a pinch of salt and blend the lentils with the water remaining after soaking them. You don't need to rinse them, add more water or take water out. Simply follow the ratio listed in the recipe card. You will need a high-speed blender, an immersion blender, or a food processor. We use our Ninja Blender for this recipe and it works great. Blend the lentil-water mixture until you have a smooth batter.
- Heat the red lentil batter using a medium saucepan or pot to medium heat.
- Using a whisk, keep stirring while the mixture is thickening to avoid lumps from forming and sticking at the bottom of the pan. At this point, you can decide how thick or runny you want your mixture. This will determine the texture of your tofu (soft tofu, firm tofu, or extra firm tofu).
- Place the lentil mixture in a glass or non-stick container, and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours. Using a square glass container will help to cut the tofu into cubes later.
- Once the tofu is ready, place it on a cutting board. It will come out of the container easily and you can cut it and cook it to add to your favorite dishes.
How to cook Lentil Tofu
Our favorite way to cook this soy-free tofu is using the Air-fryer. All you need to do is add some cornflour or chickpea flour, or another type of fine flour, olive oil, or vegetable oil, and add to the air-fryer.
Set the air-fryer to 200C (400F) and air fry for about 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. When the tofu has been cooking for about 12 minutes, we like to add some soy sauce or coconut aminos, and keep cooking it for a few more minutes. This will add some umami and saltiness to your tofu.
You can as well, cook this legume tofu by pan-frying or deep-frying it. Both ways will result in a crispy outer layer with a lovely moist inner layer. We like using our cast iron skillet to pan-fry this soy-free tofu.
You can cook lentil tofu like you normally cook traditional tofu. The end result should not differ much.
We have many recipes using tofu on our blog such as curries, salads, rolls, stir-fries, etc. All these recipes can be made using this type of non soy-based tofu. If you need some inspiration here are some red lentil tofu recipes:
Appetizer: Our favorite way to serve this tofu is an appetizer. We cook the tofu using the air-fryer and add a little soy sauce. Served with some sweet chili sauce, it makes for a great appetizer or even snack.
Sandwiches, wraps, or fajitas: Red lentil tofu can be sliced or crumbled and added to your favorite sandwiches, wraps, or fajitas.
Curries and stir fry recipes: Dice the tofu, cook it in the air-fryer with some cornflour and oil, and toss it into your favorite curry or stir-fry for an easy, protein-packed meal. The tofu will absorb the flavors of the dish, making it a tasty addition to your meal.
Salads: Cube the tofu, cook it in the air-fryer with some cornflour and oil, and incorporate it into a vibrant salad for a satisfying, healthy lunch or dinner.
Store and Reheat
If you want to store the tofu, place it in an airtight container and keep it in the fridge. It should last for up to 5 days when stored this way.
Another option is to freeze the tofu but it's best to do so after it has been cooked. Place the cooked tofu in a freezer-safe container or plastic bag, ensuring that the pieces aren't touching each other, and freeze for up to 2 months. When you're ready to use the frozen tofu, let it thaw in the fridge overnight.
FAQ and Tips
Is red lentil tofu a good alternative to soy tofu?
Yes, red lentil tofu is a great alternative to soy tofu, especially for those looking for a soy-free option. It has a smooth, firm, and creamy texture and a neutral, mild taste that makes it versatile for various dishes.
How can I cook this legume tofu?
You can air-fry, pan-fry, deep-fry, or bake Lentil Tofu.
For air-frying, set your air-fryer to 200C (400F). Coat the tofu with some cornflour, drizzle a little oil, and air-fry for about 18-20 minutes. You can add some soy sauce after 12-14 minutes to add flavor and umami. This is our favorite way to cook Red Lentil Tofu.
You can pan-fry the tofu as well, by adding some vegetable oil to a frying pan and cooking the tofu until golden brown. Make sure you keep turning the pieces so they cook evenly.
Is red lentil tofu keto-friendly?
Red lentil tofu may not be the best choice for those following a strict keto diet because red lentils are relatively high in carbohydrates. However, if you're following a less restrictive low-carb or plant-based diet, red lentil tofu can still be a nutritious and delicious option.
What ingredients can I use to flavor this pink tofu?
Red lentil tofu has a mild taste, which makes it ideal for absorbing any flavors you'd like to add. While soaking, you can add nutritional yeast or yeast flakes, curry powder, garlic powder, or other spices. When cooking, we personally love adding soy sauce, as it adds umami and saltiness. Other options are tamari, sweet chili sauce, vegan oyster sauce, lemon juice, tahini, etc. If you like spicy food, consider adding red pepper flakes, sriracha, or chili oil.
Can I use green lentils?
Yes, as long as they are dried lentils. Although red lentils are commonly used for making lentil tofu, it might be possible to use green lentils as well. The main difference between red and green lentils is that green lentils have a slightly firmer texture and stronger flavor. You will need to soak this type of lentils for longer, until they have a softer texture.
Red Lentil Tofu (Soy-free)
- High Speed Blender
- 1 cup red lentils whole or split
- 3 cups boiling water
- A pinch of salt
- Add the red lentils and boiling water to a blender jug and leave them soaking for at least 15 minutes.
- Add a pinch of salt and blend the lentils with the water remaining after soaking them. You don't need to rinse them, add more water or take water out.
- Blend the lentils until you have a smooth batter. For this part, you will need to use a high-speed blender, food processor, or immersion blender.
- Heat the red lentil batter using a pot or pan.
- Using a whisk, keep stirring while the mixture is thickening to avoid lumps from forming. At this point, you can decide how thick or runny you want your mixture. This will determine the texture of your tofu (soft, firm, or extra-firm).
- Place the thickened mixture in a glass or non-stick container, and leave in the fridge for at least 3 hours.
- Once the tofu is ready, it will come out of the container easily and you can cut it and cook it to add to your favorite dishes.
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