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45 mins

My Darling Lemon Thyme

I love curries. For me, this is comfort food at its best. I like to use dried Kashmiri chillies for their intense red colour and relatively mild heat factor (but really any long red dried chilli will do). Kashmiri chillies are easily found at your local Indian grocery store, as are the fresh curry leaves, tamarind and asafoetida. Asafoetida, also known as hing, is a pungent yellow powder made from the dried root gum of a plant similar to fennel. The most common powdered form has wheat added to it, probably to prevent clumping, so if you are super-sensitive to gluten and can’t find the pure resin form, just omit it from the recipe. Fresh curry leaves are always sold in bunches; any leftover leaves can be frozen in zip-lock bags and used without defrosting.

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  • Step 1

    Soak chillies in hot water for 5–10 minutes. Drain, halve and remove as many seeds as you can before roughly chopping. Blend in a food processor with the cumin seeds and garlic to form a rough paste (alternatively, chop all the ingredients very finely with a sharp knife or use a mortar and pestle).

  • Step 2

    Heat ghee or oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat, add tofu cubes and lightly brown on all sides for 8–10 minutes. Lift out tofu to a plate and add chilli paste, tamarind puree, tomato paste, curry leaves, asafoetida, sugar and salt to the pan. Cook, stirring often, for 3–4 minutes until thick and fragrant. Add tofu and . cup (185ml) water, stirring well to coat, then simmer on low for a further 5–8 minutes until sauce thickens and tofu heats through. Serve hot with basmati rice, a few coriander leaves and
    sauteed spinach, and freshly cooked flatbread on the side.

    NOTE: Tamarind puree can be bought but I make my own from blocks of tamarind pulp; simply break off a chunk, rip it into little pieces and add enough boiling water to just cover. Leave for 10–15 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the pulp. Tip the lot into a sieve over a bowl and press the mixture through with a metal spoon, scraping tamarind puree off the underside of the sieve as you go. Discard the seeds. You want it to be about the same consistency as tomato ketchup, so add a little extra water if needed. This can
    be stored in the fridge for 4–5 days or frozen in ice-cube trays. Once your block of tamarind paste is opened, store it in a zip-lock bag in the fridge, where it will keep indefinitely.

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