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Burmese Tofu, the easy vegan soy-free tofu

Burmese tofu, also known as Shan Tofu or Chickpea Tofu, is a soy-free, gluten-free food made from chickpea flour, water, salt and turmeric. While it can stand in for regular soy tofu in some recipes, Burmese Tofu is really it’s own thing. Made in a similar way to polenta, chickpea tofu is firm enough to cut into blocks for pan-frying but it has a more delicate, creamy texture than regular soy tofu. This chickpea tofu recipe is made with a little extra flavour and tips to make your first batch a delicious success!
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Want to make tofu WITH soy? Learn how to make tofu with just soy milk, lemon juice, and water!

Video Tutorial for Burmese Tofu aka Chickpea Tofu

My first time making Burmese Tofu

 I first learned about Burmese tofu back in January when looking for ways to use my up a huge bag of chickpea flour (chana) that I got from Superstore; they didn’t have any smaller bags at the time. While searching for chickpea flour recipes, I ran across this post from omni gluten-free blogger, Girl Cooks World and gave her recipe a go as it seemed so easy. And it was! After learning more about Burmese Tofu and doing some experimentation, I changed it up a bit to make a tastier chickpea tofu.

On my first go, I nixed the additives and just used chickpea flour and water. The result was a cross between scrambled eggs and silken tofu. I found that it was great cut into cubes, dipped in a little flour and fried up. I’ve used it as salad toppings, on rice, in place of scrambled eggs and as the egg part of a quiche. Also, I’ve found that it’s really filling for the amount of calories, plus it’s a great source of protein and iron.

cubed burmese tofu with dill and lime

Burmese Tofu, cubed, lightly fried and seasoned with dill and fresh lime juice.

Turning into a Burmese Tofu Obsession…

Over the last few months, it’s become one of my go-to foods. I’ve adapted the recipe to be more savory and more suited to how I like to use it, but it’s still super easy to make. And because chickpea flour is so inexpensive and nutritious, there’s no reason not to have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  

Fried burmese tofu sticks with dip

Burmese Tofu, cut into blocks, dredged in flour, seaweed flakes, and nutritional yeast, then deep-fried.

Have you tried Burmese Tofu before? What did you think?

Edit June 27, 2014: By popular request, I have posted the recipe and a video tutorial on how to make Burmese Tofu Crispy dippers like the ones above. Click here for the post.

fried burmese tofu vegan "fish sticks" with creamy dill dip

Close up with vegan dill dip.

Burmese tofu with sweet chili sauce on rice

Burmese tofu with Thai sweet chili sauce on seasoned brown rice and sprouts.

Burmese Tofu Ingredients

The main ingredient is chickpea flour. If you’re not very familiar with it, this can be a bit confusing to shop for because of it’s many names, including

  • chana flour,
  • besan flour,
  • garbanzo bean flour,
  • as well as chickpea flour.

The good news is they all work. Chana and Besan are two varieties of chickpeas but they are similar enough for our chickpea tofu purposes. Garbanzo beans are really the same thing as chickpeas but just a different name. The only type I don’t recommend is sprouted flour. I find the flavour way too strong and grassy. It always tastes raw to me no matter how long I cook it. However, that’s just my opinion so perhaps you will love the grassy flavour of sprouted chickpea flour.

The only other ingredient that you really need is a liquid. Water is fine but broth is better. You can use any broth you like as long as it’s thin like water. I love to use:

  • vegetable broth,
  • vegan chicken-style broth,
  • the water leftover from cooking beans.

You can really get creative here and create your own flavour combinations. One commenter even uses miso and ginger! Sounds great to me!

Lastly, don’t forget salt. Yes, I just said you only need the two ingredients mentioned before but a little salt will really bump up the flavour and make your chickpea tofu more delicious. While we’re talking more delicious, feel free to add additional herbs and spices that you like.

Troubleshooting Burmese Tofu / Chickpea Tofu

Over the years since this post was first published (update on March 2, 2020), there’s two problems that commenters have bumped into again and again.

The first issue is that their chickpea mixture isn’t setting (becoming solid). To prevent this, make sure to:

  • Measure the ingredients accurately. And unlike with measuring regular flour for baking, you should not fluff the flour before scooping. Instead, pack the flour into the measuring cup.
  • Add the cold liquid + chickpea flour mixture only when the water is at a rolling boil. It will look like the water is rolling in on itself in a circle. 
  • If you have a gas stove, instead of turning off the heat, just turn it as low as it will go without going out.

Doing these things should get your a chickpea mixture that sets up right away. I find that my chickpea tofu will set up so fast it’s hard to get it smooth on top before it solidifies.

The second issue is their chickpea tofu leeches water during storage. There’s nothing to be done for this except draining off the liquid every day. Alternatively, you could store your chickpea tofu in a container that has a little rack in it so moisture can drip down.

The last common problem is that their tofu is too soft for their liking. In this case, add a little more chickpea flour to your chickpea flour + cold water mixture. Try going up to 3 cups of chickpea flour to 6 cups of water. The only issue I run into is that the mixture can become hard to stir and cook all the way through before setting if I add too much. That said, I have very weak wrists these days so you might not have this problem!

Finally, one thing I should mention is that chickpea flour can go “off.” Typically, I buy the same brand of chickpea flour every time but one bag resulted in very bitter tofu! I even tried to cover up the bitterness by making a quiche with tons of seasonings. Didn’t work. So I threw it out and got a new bag. Problem solved! If this happens to you, it just might be a bad batch of flour.

Printable recipe for Burmese Tofu (AKA Chickpea Tofu)

Burmese Tofu
Yields 8
Burmese tofu is a soy-free, gluten-free food made from chickpea flour, water, salt and turmeric. This variation uses vegetable stock to infuse a deliciously savory flavour.

Watch the video tutorial here.
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups chickpea flour*
  2. 6 cups of water, divided
  3. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (recommended for flavour but not necessary)
  4. 2 cubes vegetable bouillon (or sub out 4 cups of water for veggie broth) or a teaspoon of salt
Instructions
  1. Line a rectangle pan or casserole dish with parchment paper.
  2. In a large pot, boil 4 cups of water or vegetable stock. Add the boullion cubes if using.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the chickpea flour, turmeric (if using), and 2 cups of cold water. Whisk until smooth.
  4. When the 4 cups of water/stock comes to a ROLLING boil, carefully stir in the chickpea mixture.
  5. If you are using an electric stove, turn off the heat and continue stirring vigorously for five minutes. If you are using a gas stove, turn the heat to the lowest setting possible. The mixture will turn from matte to glossy and will become super thick. If it does not, increase the heat just a little to continue cooking and stirring until it does.
  6. Pour the mixture quickly into your prepared pan and spread out evenly with a spoon. It should start to set up right away.
  7. Let cool to room temperature before chilling in the fridge for an hour.
  8. After chilling, cut up the tofu as desired for easy storage.
  9. Eat cold, heated up or however you like! Try them coated and fried like in these Burmese Tofu Crispy Dippers! Enjoy!
Notes
  1. *Pack down the chickpea flour when measuring (basically the opposite of how to measure regular flour for most recipes). For firmer tofu, you can increase the amount of chickpea flour. However, I find it becomes more difficult to cook the mixture thoroughly enough when I add too much flour so I increase it 1 cup more at the most.
  2. Do not pour the chickpea mixture into the water/stock before it comes to a rolling boil. It MUST be hot enough in order for your tofu to set properly afterwards. If you have a gas stove, the residual heat may not be enough. In that case, turn the heat to very low instead of turning it off after adding the chickpea mixture.
  3. Make sure you stir it for five whole minutes so the chickpea flour cooks through. If you don't it gets a sprouty kind of taste. But if you plan to cook it after (like sauteing or deep frying) then don't worry about that too much.
  4. Store your tofu in the fridge. It will leech water as it sits and gets firmer over time. Simply drain out the water periodically.
  5. One of my Instagram friends told me it does fine in the freezer, just thaw it in the fridge before using. I've never tried as I always eat it up quickly!
Adapted from Girl Cooks World
Adapted from Girl Cooks World
Mary's Test Kitchen http://www.marystestkitchen.com/
Any issues with this recipe? Please see if my Burmese Tofu Troubleshooting guide will help your situation or leave me a comment.

close up of Burmese Tofu on rice

 

Showing 57 comments
  • Stephanie
    Reply

    Genius!!!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thanks, Stephanie! I just came across the idea when trying to use up my chickpea flour. πŸ˜€

  • rika@vm
    Reply

    I bookmarked a Burmese ‘tofu’ recipe a long time ago, but haven’t tested it out! Love that it’s soy-free, miam! Looks super good!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yes, it is incredibly simple. It’s become a staple food for me. I almost always have some in the fridge ready to be made into other dishes.

  • John Higuchi
    Reply

    Another grest recipe. I have chickpea flour waiting. I recently made a baked verison with olive oil and black pepper.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Thank so much, John! And I’ll have to try your baked version.

  • Reply

    I should be using burmese tofu more. it just is so simple and versatile!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yes! Thanks for the comment. I just <3 the stuff!

  • Ashley
    Reply

    I tried this recipe and it came out really watery, I followed the directions but mine didn’t quite thicken like yours I stirred for 10 minutes before just pouring it into the pan and giving up as it wasn’t getting as thick as yours. I put in in the fridge for 2 night to leech the most amount of liquid but as I kept it in the fridge it didn’t get firmer it just leeched more water and started falling apart. i tried to put some in a pan and brown in but it just melted and fell apart. I’m going to reattempt this recipe this week, any idea what I can do different? I used the bob’s red mill garbanzo bean flour, I dunno if that had anything to do with it?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Ashley,

      Sorry to hear that it didn’t work out for you. Two things come to mind to double check:
      1) Did we use the right amount of water? 2 cups cold + 4 cups boiling water
      2) Did you pour the chickpea/garbanzo flour mixture into the boiling water at a ROLLING boil? It really has to be at the “rolling” stage when pouring it in.

      Another thing I’ll point out from the recipe is:
      At step 5: If you are using a gas stove OR it does not seem to get thick within a couple minutes, turn up the heat to medium-low (instead of turning the heat right off).

      Lastly, make sure to drain off the excess water daily so that the tofu doesn’t sit in water too long.

      I hope this helps! Cheers!

    • Ananda
      Reply

      If that happens it is still edible. You can stir fry it like scrambled eggs

  • Rusty
    Reply

    I stumbled on your page from reddit and I’m really impressed! It’s crazy to me that $1 worth of chickpea flour yields so much delicious tofu. Thanks for the recipe!

    I fried some strips up with franks red hot and made buffalo Burmese tofu wraps with a cucumber dill sauce. Pure lunchtime bliss.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Rusty, you have just made my day! I was having a bit of an overwhelming day at my “real” job and this positive comment really lifted my spirits and reminded me why I do what I do. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Burmese Tofu. Your idea of making buffalo Burmese tofu wraps is pure genius! I’ve got to try that ASAP!

      • Ananda
        Reply

        Hi Mary. Love you. I wanted to share that this tofu is made, cut into diamonds, then deep fried until dry, then simmered in a gravy with potatoes. It is called “Dhokar dalna” and it is a Bengali dish, eaten with rice ☺️

  • Saniel
    Reply

    Can I still make this if I have only one cup of chickpea flour? This what I have until I purchase more, will it work.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yes! Just use half of much of all the ingredients. I have done it many times and it works fine. Cheers!

  • Melissa
    Reply

    Hi Mary!

    I’ve been looking for a soy alternative for awhile now… thank you so much for posting this recipe… I will try it today. Can I use foil instead of parchment paper?

    Thanks,
    Melissa

    • Mary
      Reply

      You’re welcome, Melissa. Parchment paper keeps the tofu from sticking to the pan, making clean-up easier. If you don’t have it, you can simply oil the pan. I also think wax paper would do the trick as well. I don’t think aluminum foil would be a good idea though. Have fun experimenting!

  • Hannah
    Reply

    I love this!! Thank you Mary. Just made some and can’t wait till tomorrow morning to make a scrambled eggless sandwich. So excited about this stuff. Love your channel too, never stop πŸ™‚ x

    • Mary
      Reply

      That’s wonderful to hear, dear Hannah! I am so glad that you are enjoying the channel. Please feel free to let me know if you have any suggestions or requests πŸ™‚ Thank you for your lovely comment.

  • rose
    Reply

    i just read the comment where you were troubleshooting for a batch that was too runny and I’m going to try keeping the heat on but just turned down and also draining off the excess water asap but i am sad that every time i try to fry mine to make crispy dippers they are just super mushy on the inside. any other ides on what to do with this stuff?

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Rose,
      I am assuming right now that you are working with a fresh batch of Burmese Tofu. For crispy dippers, I usually let the tofu set in the fridge for at a few days to firm up. As they sit in the fridge, more and more water will leech out, creating a firmer tofu. That said, Burmese tofu does have a much softer texture than regular soy tofu so it inside will be soft, much like polenta fries. I hope that clears things up. Best of luck!

  • jsc
    Reply

    I just ran across this recipe. I can’t do soy, so this sounds interesting. A couple thoughts with which to experiment:

    RE “eggless salad”, I recently ran across info on black salt (kala namak) that contains some sulfur, so is used to add an egg-like flavor to things like that.

    RE texture, I know that “regular” soy-based tofu changes texture — becomes firmer, chewier, and more “meat-like” — when frozen. It might be interesting to experiment and see if this does so, also.

    RE water, I’ve seen recipes that use “regular” soy tofu that call for adding gentle pressure (plate on top or something) to remove “excess” water prior to using the tofu in a given recipe.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Black salt is fantastic! I use it for tofu scrambles all the time. I’m not sure about changes in texture when freezing Burmese Tofu. Its original texture is very different from the type of tofu used for “million layer tofu” or frozen tofu. But..let me know if you experiment please! Cheers!

  • lina
    Reply

    I dont think it freezes well. When thawed, it becomes this dry weird sponge, its horrible.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Some say that’s what regular tofu is like when it’s frozen and thawed and they do it on purpose!

  • Jerry
    Reply

    Can this tofu be used where other recipes call for the reg soy tofu?
    If so you just made me the happiest man πŸ™‚

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yes and no. It’s softer and it doesn’t hold it’s shape as well as regular soy tofu so you have to treat it a bit more carefully. And it doesn’t take to marinades like soy tofu does.

  • Jamea
    Reply

    I know that you already have a soy tofu recipe, but is it possible to make soy tofu using this method as well? For instance, using soy flour(or just soybeans made into a paste) and then following through the same way?

    • Mary
      Reply

      It may be possible but I haven’t tried it.

  • Charmaine
    Reply

    Hello Mary, what’s the recipe of the batter/coating that you used when you fried the tofu? The tofu pieces look like they’re covered in something.

    Thanks for sharing BTW πŸ™‚

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Charmaine,
      Here’s the recipe for Burmese Tofu Crispy Dippers: http://www.marystestkitchen.com/burmese-tofu-crispy-dippers/
      πŸ™‚
      Have fun!

      • Charmaine
        Reply

        Oh it’s the link you included in your post (face palm). How nice of you to re-post the link! Thanks again πŸ™‚ This raw vegan’s gonna make them for her family, and cheat a little herself πŸ˜‰

  • Amy
    Reply

    I just tried making this recipe & it ended up being too watery. Is it possible to take the stuff that failed, heat it up, add it into some more boiling water and see if it will harden up a bit more?

    • Mary
      Reply

      If your batch turned out too watery you don’t want to add more water. Instead, let it rest in the fridge and water will leech out. Drain the water that pools and the tofu will become firmer over time.

  • Karin
    Reply

    O boy… it looks so good but I did things wrong. Possibly I am to impatience. Made it yesterday and wanted to eat it today with this recipe https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sak__45qp6o but unfortunately it became very soft in the pot when I wanted to stir fry the blocks.
    How long do you have to refrigerate it before you can use it? And, how long can you keep it in the fridge before it is no longer eatable?

    Thanks!

    will try again… my first seitan sucked and now I am a seitan chef πŸ™‚

    • Mary
      Reply

      Burmese Tofu is much softer than the soy-based firm tofu used in that video. It also cannot stand up to a lot of liquidy sauce. Next time, recommend cutting your Burmese Tofu into cubes, bake at 400F until the cubes are a bit browned on the edges, then add it to your stir-fry after you’re done cooking everything else. Fold in gently so the tofu gets covered in sauce but not broken up.

      You can use the Burmese Tofu as soon as it solidifies. It gets firmer as it sits in the fridge as long as you drain any water that leeches out.

      Keep it in the fridge for up to a week. I would say no longer than 5 days.

      Keep up the great can-do attitude! πŸ™‚

  • Ruth Willes
    Reply

    I made the Burmese tofu, as my husbands requested, as he remembered eating it in Burma where he grew up. The first time I made a full batch, and it turned out very runny, not thick at all. It was still very soupy in the fridge after two days. Then I read the comment you made for someone else who had the same problem as me. This morning I made half a batch, measured very carefully the water and flour, water rolling boil, very slowly added the flour water mix and stirred 5 minutes with my gas range on low. Still very runny. Do you think it has something to do with my garbanzo flour? Or should I put extra flour in the recipe or else cut back on the water? My husband was disappointed.

    • Mary
      Reply

      Adding more flour/ using less water would probably do the trick for you.

      One drawback of volume measurements is that it’s not very precise. In this case, when measuring the flour you want to do the opposite of how flour is usually measured for things like baking. That is, pack down the flour into your measuring cup. Do not do the spoon-by-spoon method or fluff the flour before scooping.

  • Nicole Whitney
    Reply

    I tried cubing it and adding it to a veggie stir fry but they fell apart, however the flavor was amazing and the stir fry was definitely more filling than just a plain veg one, so I’m very happy! I probably should have read the comments and let it sit a couple days. For anyone who doesn’t have parchment or wax paper I used a silicone pan to let it set and it worked well, I just turned it upside down on the cutting board after chilling for an hour in the fridge and it popped right out. I still have some left over so I’m going to try the crispy dippers, they look amazing. I’ve been searching for the creamy dill recipe. Can you point me in the right direction? Great post and recipe πŸ™‚ I love how affordable it is. I’m not even vegan I just like to have meatless meals because I’m frugal and organic grass-fed meats are expensive πŸ˜› so, for the record: this recipe is non-vegan approved!

  • Angela
    Reply

    Love this! I saved the recipe last week and decided to try it tonight. Ended up making a scramble tonight and loved the flavor. The rest is in the refrigerator to firm up more and looking forward to trying crispy nuggets in a few days. Also put a small amount in the freezer to see how it might (or might not) hold up to freezing. Thanks for the recipe!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Awesome! Thanks for sharing. Please let me know how your freezer test works out πŸ™‚

  • Andrea
    Reply

    Hello Mary! Thank you so much for a great recipe!
    I am from Brazil and tried to make the tofu but it ended up very liquid and it didn’t firm…do you know if it’s possible to use the flour made from the white chickpeas?
    I tried once again adding more flour but it still didn’t firm.
    Thank you for you attention and for the great videos and recipes!
    πŸ™‚

    Andrea

  • Virginia
    Reply

    Hi Mary, I tried the recipe and although it took longer than 5 minutes to firm up (more like 20 for me), I really liked it! Even in the phase before solidifying, as a sort of polenta/congee, so good…
    It is also incredibly similar to something in northwest Italy called “panizza”, altough those are cooked just with salted water, yum!

  • Freya
    Reply

    Hi,
    love this burmese tofu, but how do you use it in food, other than frying? My daughter refuses to eat it cold (I’m not too keen on it cold either), and when cooking it I find it tends to get mushy and starts dissolving. At the moment the only way we are able to eat it is to slice it fairly thin and fry on high heat, then it crisps up nice on the outside.
    Am thinking if it was flavored with cheesy type flavors (nooch +??) it could be eaten cold as a cheese substitute. Have you tried anything like that?

  • VeggieTater
    Reply

    My stove (not me!) likes to burn stuff, the last time I tried this it took a week to soak my burnt pot lol, but I enjoyed the tofu. This time I got the brilliant idea to modify it a bit. Made it pretty much as per your recipe with a bit more besan and the intention of going for something “cheesy” so I added in some nooch, herbs, garlic and onion powder, miso and a dash of mustard and lemon, then added it to the boiling water and let it thicken some before adding it into small oiled molds which I steamed covered in the Instant Pot for 20 minutes to finish firming and setting in the mold. After cooling and unmolding I had awesome healthy, tasty “cheese” without all the fat and calories of the nut based cheeses which are delish…until my scale reminds me I can’t afford the decadence!

    • crunchycompassionista
      Reply

      I totally want to try this is the instant Pot now! Thanks for the details.

  • Thomas
    Reply

    I have made this recipe over ten times now and never had any problems. It is fantastic; maybe my favorite thing to eat now. I have boiled miso and ginger instead of using vegetable stock and that has given a great flavor. Thank you so much for posting this; it is a great recipe!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Yay! I love to hear that, Thomas. I love the miso and ginger idea too. Thanks so much for sharing!
      Cheers,
      Mary

  • Jessie
    Reply

    OMG! You can make “cheese sticks” out of this. I made this tofu with water, salt, yeast, white pepper and a little bit of vinegar and let it cool overnight. The next day I cut it into stick, rolled them in flour, egg replacer and bread crumbs and fried them. They cam out delicious. Really taste like cheese sticks. So yummi. Thank you for this reciepe. The best tofu ever! And you can do so many different things with it.

  • Amber
    Reply

    Thank you for this recipe, it has been just amazing during the pandemic where we can’t get our usual food. All my regional stores are sold out of tofu, beans, seitan, tempeh, everything! Except for chickpea flour and vital wheat gluten, which I can use to make my own Shan tofu and seitan.

    This is easier to make fresh than having to plan to drain and season normal tofu. Very fast cooking and almost-instant setting with so many customization options.

    And thanks for sharing your extra tips instead of just a basic recipe. I haven’t had any problems making it but my friend couldn’t get hers to set so I sent her here. I like to pour it into a flexible silicone container, then it pops right out without needing any parchment paper, oil, etc.

    I love this tofu in all recipes: any curry, salad, stir fry, soup, breakfast scramble, etc. I have told so many people about this recipe that I bet the markets will soon be out of chickpea flour πŸ™‚ Thank you again and I hope that you are well!

    • Mary
      Reply

      Hi Amber,
      I’m so happy to hear this! Not happy that everything is sold out around you, but happy that you can make thing work anyway. Way to find the silver-linings! *high five*
      Thanks so much for sharing this page with your friend too. I’m really glad I could help. I <3
      I really appreciate you sharing all this feedback with me. It helps a lot and you're helping to motivate me especially at this time when I’ve needed extra motivation. Hope you stay well and safe.
      Cheers,
      Mary

  • Helen
    Reply

    Hi Mary.

    I saw your recipe on Facebook a few days ago and thought it sounded interesting. I bought some chickpea flour in town on Friday and made a batch of Burmese Tofu yesterday. I’ve estimated that it cost me around $NZ2.50 and I will get a LOT of meals for next to nothing!!!

    I made a stir fried dish last night with the Burmese Tofu, vegies, chilli. ginger, garlic, onion, cashews and brown rice.

    This morning I made scrambled not-eggs using Burmese tofu, nutritional yeast, a splash of soy milk, garlic and parsley. I served it on home made toasted sourdough. Yummmmmmmmmmmmm.

    Thank you again for sharing your recipe

    • Mary
      Reply

      That’s wonderful to hear, Helen! Thanks so much for sharing your success πŸ™‚
      Stay well and safe,
      Mary

  • Helen
    Reply

    oops … I forgot to mention that I used Kala Namak in the Burmese Tofu scramble, too

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