This dish is inspired by Rick Stein’s favourite Madras fish curry. Chunks of carrot are soft and sweet, the firm tofu turns a rich yellow from turmeric while staying white inside and the eggplant offers luscious fleshy satisfaction. Cooking the carrot separately helps it retain its character and speeds up the timing: the whole dish takes about 45 minutes but tastes like it took much longer. There are lots of interesting ingredients in it but tamarind is definitely the star of the show. It gives a lip-smacking zing which seems to bring out the best of the curry leaves and coriander. It’s ideal as a weeknight meal, and I’ve been amazed how much I enjoy this curry cold the next day for lunch too. Thanks Rick!
|4 medium||Carrots, approx. 300g, peeled and cut into big chunks (Main)|
|¼ cup||Vegetable oil|
|1 Tbsp||Yellow mustard seeds|
|1 large||Onion, finely chopped|
|4 cloves||Garlic, finely chopped|
|50 g||Tamarind, see pantry notes below (Main)|
|1 Tbsp||Turmeric, finely grated fresh or powder|
|1 ½ Tbsp||Coriander seeds, freshly ground|
|2 tsp||Kashmiri chilli|
|½ tsp||Black pepper|
|30||Curry leaves, if available|
|1 medium||Eggplant, approx. 400g, cut into bite sized pieces|
|1 block||Firm tofu, in chunky bite-sized pieces (Main)|
|1 cup||Tomato passata, or use crushed tomato|
|1||Green chilli, sliced lengthways, add an extra chilli if desired|
|1 Tbsp||Mustard oil, optional|
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- Cook the carrots in 1½ cups water in a small pot, giving them time to get nice and soft while retaining their colour.
- Heat the oil in a large pan until hot, then add mustard seeds. Cook until they sizzle and start to pop, then quickly add the onion and garlic, turning the heat down low and cooking for about 5-10 minutes until lightly browned.
- While the onions cook, prepare your tamarind liquid: Add 1 cup boiling water to 50g of wet tamarind in a small pot. Warm gently while mashing to dissolve the paste from the seeds, then press through a strainer to get the most liquid you can.
- Add the turmeric, coriander, chilli, black pepper and curry leaves to the onions and cook for a couple of minutes, then add the eggplant and tofu. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- By now the carrots should be nice and soft. Add them with all their cooking liquid plus the tamarind liquid, tomato passata, green chillies and salt.
- Turn heat down low and simmer for a further 20 minutes until the eggplant is cooked but still holding together.
- Just before serving, drizzle with mustard oil (if available).
- Tamarind trees produce an edible pod-like fruit, full of sticky, tangy-sweet paste. Pressed into blocks and sold as 'wet tamarind', this is available from Asian grocers and good supermarkets.
- Curry leaves can be found at many fruit and vege shops and add a musky richness. Next time you see them grab some and keep them in the freezer.
- Mustard oil (from Indian shops) is yellow and full of rich flavour: you don't need a lot to make a big difference.