Recipe: Pumpkin and Tofu Curry with Lemongrass

served2I know.  It’s another curry.  This is really weird.  I’ve never really liked curry, and I don’t *understand* how curry works, but I seem to have made two which I like in the space of three days.  And I don’t know what I’ve done that is different to the many, many curries I have disliked.  

To make things even more bizarre, I’m mostly, but not quite, following recipes, because I don’t really know enough to know what I’m doing when changing them.  Tonight’s effort was particularly strange because I cook by smell and I just couldn’t make sense of what I was smelling early on.  And then it all tasted far too sweet and mild and mangoish, but I didn’t dare fiddle with it, which turned out to be a good instinct, because in the end it was nicely tangy and lemon-grassish with a pleasing kick of heat from the ginger and chilli and no mango or serious coconut taste at all.

None of this makes any sense, but since I appear to have once more made an almost-certainly-inauthentic curry that I actually like and might want to make again, here goes.  In case you were wondering, it started life as a Cambodian Pork and Lemongrass Curry, but obviously the pig got away this time (the lemongrass did not).

Oh, also, I think this is the third time I’ve ever cooked with tofu while not making dessert.  Learning experiences all round…

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2 tbsp canola or sunflower oil
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
a piece of ginger-root about two cubic inches in size
3 big tablespoons of lemongrass paste (check that yours doesn’t contain gluten or fish sauce if these are problematic for you – alternatively, you could go with the 2 tablespoons of chopped lemongrass which the recipe I’m mostly ignoring suggested)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander seed, ground
1 tsp fennel seed
300 g firm tofu
500 g pumpkin
125 g potato
250 g sweet potato
zest and juice of one lime
270 ml light coconut cream
130 ml water
1 big tablespoon of tamarind puree
2 red capsicums
1 red chilli
75 g pistachios, because we really gave up on authenticity and that’s what was in the pantry when I decided that this dish needed some crunch
To serve: rice, about 1 1/2  – 2 cups.  Purple Thai rice looks particularly pretty here.  This curry serves 4-6 people, I should think.

Now what will you do with it?

If, like me, you have a whole pumpkin to tackle, I’d start with that – take out a big wedge of it and then peel it and chop it into small cubes.  Chop the tofu into similar cubes – dice-sized is good, mine were a little large – and set aside for later.


Peel your onion, garlic and ginger and chop finely.  I basically took a big knife to all of them and then did that thing where you have everything on a board and use one hand at each end of the knife and just bang it up and down a lot until everything is finely (but inelegantly) chopped.

Heat the oil in a wide and fairly deep skillet and add the onion, ginger and garlic mix.  Stir in the lemongrass with a lavish hand, and add the other spices while you are at it.  Cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the onion begins to soften.  You may need a little more oil.


Add the tofu and pumpkin to the pan and stir to get nicely coated with the spices.


Let cook, stirring occasionally, while you peel and dice your potato and sweet potato, and add them to the mix.


Add the lime zest and juice, the tamarind purée, and your coconut cream and water.  Consider adding salt and pepper, rather than forgetting them, like I do every single time.


Stir everything well, bring to the boil, then cover and simmer on low for an hour or so, until everything is getting nicely incorporated, flavour-wise.

While this is happening, finely chop the capsicum and the chilli.  Add these at the end of the hour, stir in, and cook for another fifteen minutes, covered, before taking off the lid and turning up the heat to reduce the sauce a little for the final fifteen minutes.


This would be a good time to put the rice on, don’t you think?

Decide that this curry is a bit too mushy and squidgy, so toast some pistachios with a little salt in a dry fry pan.


Tip them out onto a chopping board and chop them roughly.

Serve the curry over your rice with chopped pistachios on top.  Make sure you get a good spoonful or two of the saucy part, as it will trickle down into the rice and make the rice awesome.  And we all want awesome rice.


Eat, with some bemusement, because you still don’t really understand curry.  Was the trick always just to cook it for a really long time, or am I just being lucky?  And why don’t I like Thai food when I eat out?



Oh, heavens, I still don’t know what I did right, I’m certainly not going to try guessing at variations.  My omnivore self is sadly all too convinced that chicken would have been great instead of the tofu, but I think that’s just because I didn’t get the tofu quite right.  I suspect that starting by frying off the tofu in the oil with a little lemongrass would have been a good plan, and I’ll do that next time.

I suspect cashews would make a more authentic garnish than pistachios.

Help!  I have no idea what I’m doing!  What do you think?

On a dietary level, this is as vegan and gluten-free as your lemongrass sauce.  It’s pretty low GI, with the tofu and sweet potato, though you’d probably want to serve it with basmati rice rather than the purple kind, as the latter has a very high glycemic index indeed.  If you are avoiding nuts, this is fine without it, I just wanted it to have crunch.



I am submitting this to my Anyone Can Cook ORANGE Vegetarian Food Challenge, because it’s definitely got the orange thing happening, what with the pumpkin and sweet potato and the red and yellow from the capsicum and turmeric.


So much orange food!  Anyone would think it was autumn.  Please feel free to join in the orange-fest!



One year ago: Farmers’ Market with So Much…
Two years ago: Review: Wild Sourdough, by Yoke Mardewi


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