A deliciously rich Indian curry ...
I took inspiration from my favourite Indian cookbook to devise my own version of this dish, and to veganise it. Mridula Baljekar is the author and I love the simplicity of her recipes. They almost invite you to experiment with the ingredients. I can’t describe to you explosion of flavours you’ll experience from this curry. The sauce is rich and silky and not too hot so it doesn’t overpower the spices. You’ll need a shallow pan with a lid if possible for this one, as the secret to its success is to keep in all the steam during cooking. I recommend gathering, preparing and measuring all the ingredients before you start to cook.
1 large block extra firm tofu (roughly 400g - doesn’t need to be exact)
2 onions finely sliced or chopped
1 inch fresh ginger finely grated
2 garlic cloves finely grated
1 red chilli finely chopped
5 green cardamom pods
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon stick
2 or 3 bay leaves
4 tbsp tomato paste
200ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper (yes it sounds a lot but trust me!)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder (use less if you prefer)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tbsp garam masala
1 400ml can coconut cream
20 curry leaves
2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves
Half a lemon
Firstly prepare your tofu. I recommend freezing and thawing the block before using, if possible. It enables you to remove so much more liquid and this gives a firmer texture and allows more flavour to be absorbed. Cut your tofu into cubes and then press between sheets of kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture. Set to one side.
Heat approx 2 tbsp vegetable oil in your pan on a low heat. Fry the onion until nicely softened and taking on colour. This may take 15 to 20 minutes but is worth the effort. Whilst your onion is cooking, you need to grind some of your whole spices. You can either do this in a pestle and mortar, use a coffee grinder or a blender. Once your cardamom, cloves and fenugreek are reduced to a fairly fine powder, set them to one side. (You can leave them whole if you prefer. I just don’t like the sensation of biting down on one mid way through eating.)
Once your onions are done, blitz them to a paste in a blender. Add a little water if you need to.
In the same pan, heat a further 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and fry your ground whole spices plus the cinnamon and bay leaves for a minute or so. Add in your ginger, garlic and chopped red chilli and cook for a further minute, stirring constantly. Now add in your onion paste, stir well and cook for a minute.
Now go in with your tomato paste, vegetable stock and the remaining ground spices, garam masala and black pepper. Stir well to combine and allow to cook, covered, for a few minutes. Now add your coconut cream and curry leaves. Stir and allow to gently cook for 15 minutes, covered, on a low heat.
Finally, add in your tofu cubes and allow a further 10 minutes covered cooking time.
You may need to adjust the liquid level during cooking. Add a splash of water if you feel your sauce is too thick.
Once you’re happy and the curry is blibbing away, add in a good handful or two of fresh spinach leaves and allow them to wilt into the curry. Also check for seasoning and add a pinch or two of salt if needed.
Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, a good amount of freshly chopped coriander leaves and serve with steamed basmati rice and naans.
You can either remove the bay leaves and cinnamon stick before serving or just let your diners know they’re in there.
I'm a married mother of one, living in Melbourne. I've been Vegan since May 2015.