Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Taufoo with Minced Meat inspired by Joe Tata

When I was young, my mom's uncle used to stay with us from time to time. We used to call him Joe Tata. See, Tata is the tamil word for Grandfather and for many years, I simply thought his name was Joe. Even my friends used to call him Uncle Joe. Much later, I found out that he actually hailed from Johor. My eldest brother, when he was but a wee lad, couldn't say Johor Tata - which is what he should have been referred to and he ended up calling him Jo Tata. Hence the name!

He was a lovely albeit strange fellow. He would read the newspapers - the front page, page two, then the back page, then the inner back page. He would then promptly peel off the first sheet and pass it to you to read. He'd then repeat this exercise with the remaining sheets. The most amazing thing though was that he would then reassemble the paper and it would be as good as when before he began reading it. I kid you not.
He was also a fabulous cook. He may have been vegetarian, but the dishes he cooked were just delightful. He was meticulous about his cooking too. Each bean would be cut the exact same length. When he diced tomatoes, each would be the same size. Amazing chap really. There are a lot more stories that I fondly remember about Jo Tata but suffice to say that he inspired this dish and also this post.

This dish is a take on something he used to do with beancurd or taufoo as we call it. Granted he used to make this pure vege but I added some chicken to it. He used to squeeze the bean curd in his hands to crumble it up and this is exactly how I made it too! This is what i did:

2 cloves garlic
1 large onion
300g minced chicken
5 tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato sauce
1 tbsp chilli sauce
2 tsp worcesthershire sauce
4 bean curd squares

Chop garlic and slice onions finely. Sautee in a little oil till soft. Add in roughly cut tomatoes and cook till soft. Add in the minced chicken and cook till meat is well done. Add in the sauces and then with your hand, crumble the bean curd in and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

This dish is perfect eaten with rice. I had my parents over for dinner and I asked my Mom if the dish reminded her of anything. At first she said it reminded her of a mince Taufoo dish from a chinese restuarant. When I told her that it was just like
the dish Joe Tata used to make, she smiled and remarked. "He was a strict vegetarian, he never used chicken in his cooking - but I guess if you took the chicken out, it is like his taufoo dish."

There's just no fooling Mom is there...!


Bellini Valli said...

Your uncle Jo sounds like he took classes at Le Cordon Bleu with such precision in his knife skills. Thank you for sharing a piece of your childhood with us Dharm:D

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Dharm thanks so much for the Joe Tata story. Somehow it's these kinds of stories that are really life.
There just is no fooling mom:)

Haley said...

I really enjoyed reading your post. I love nostalgic recipes, and this one looks quite good :)

I would love to write about your recipe on our blog! If you are interested send me an email at

Haley, KI Blogger


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