In my global kitchen I have been experimenting with the flavors of Malaysia and remembering a beautiful trip with my parents and siblings decades ago.
I found that Malaysian cuisine draws from rich cultures like Indian, Thai and Chinese ( to name a few) while staying true to its own ethnic uniqueness. Regardless of the culinary mélange, this resulted in flavors that are complex, deep and diverse.
So ultimately, after a few experimentations, I ended up with a home made Malay curry powder and a rich coconut curry broth which is tart and tamarind-based.
Sharing a well tested recipe for Tofu and Vegetable coconut curry. This is a beautiful dish that helps you practice the love of cooking and flavoring patiently. Slowing down and enjoying the different layers of flavors if what makes this deep and sublime. You can save time however, by making the curry powder way ahead of time ( or buying it online) and the coconut curry paste can be made and frozen as well. I made it thick and used what I needed for this recipe.
You can use any vegetables you like ( eggplants, snow peas, carrots, zucchini). I have used Zucchini, Peppers and Carrots to showcase what’s growing in my garden.
Fried Tofu is fantastic for this recipe. You can buy Tofu puff in the refrigerated section of your Asian market. I have Air fried them with a dusting of rice and tapioca flour.
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- 1 tbsp tapioca starch
- 1 tbsp rice flour
- Salt to taste
- 4 tbsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp each of cumin and fennel seeds
- 1 whole cinnamon ctick ( about 1.5 inch)
- 1 star anise
- 2 -3 cloves
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 tsp black pepper corns
- 2 tsp raw rice
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds
- 5-8 curry leaves
- 2 tsp Kashmir red chili powder
- 2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- 1 onion, peeled and chopped
- 4 cloves of peeled garlic
- 1 inch ginger
- 10 -12 fresh curry leaves
- 1 tsp ground Lemon rind fresh or dry
- Tamarind paste ( 1/2 tsp soaked in 2 tbsp boiling water)
- 2-3 Kafir lime leaves ( lemon grass would be a good substitute)
- 2 – 3 Tbsp Malaysian Curry Powder
- 1 tbsp dried chili flakes or paprika for heat and color
- 1 tsp Grated Jaggery or brown sugar
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- Salt to taste
- Toast all the spices, except turmeric and red chili powder in a dry skillet over medium heat for 3-4 mins minutes until fragrant.
- Let the spices cool and grind to a coarse powder Add turmeric and red chili powder. Store the mix in an air tight container and use generously.
- Drain tofu and wrap in paper towels and Press with a heavy object for at least 1 hour.
- Toss tofu with tapioca, rice flour, and salt/black pepper until fully coated.
- Air fry for 15 minutes.
diced vegetables of choice – carrots, peppers, zucchini for me
Coconut curry Sauce/Broth
- Grind the onion, garlic, ginger coarsely in a grinder
- Heat the coconut oil in heavy bottomed pan and cooked the paste on medium heat until slightly golden – its takes 5 to 10 mins
- Add Kafir lime leaves or (chopped lemongrass), lemon rind, curry leaves and Malaysian curry powder . Sauté for a bit
- Add the tomato paste, Tamarind, Jaggery, and the coconut milk, and bring to the boil
- Simmer for 10 minutes until well blended and fragrant.
- I kept this as a paste so I can freeze any extra at this point.
- Add Vegetable broth to get the consistency you want.
- I used half of the paste added 2 cups of vegetable broth for this recipe
- Add the vegetables to the broth and cook al dente for 5 mins
- Add the air fired tofu
- Squeeze lemon juice and top with fresh cilantro