Malaysian inspired tofu curry

I have a lot of cookbooks.  Over 200, I think (and that’s without the magazines).  I haven’t had a less than delicious experience cooking from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and I have made quite a few of the recipes recipes.  It’s the most amazingly comprehensive recipe book, with over 800 recipes and won the some prestigious awards, including the Julia Child Award for the best cookbook of the year.  I was first introduced to Deborah Madison’s recipes in the magazine Eating Well, and I still make a few of them.  I subsequently bought (all on ebay) The Greens Cookbook and The Savory Way, as well as Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.  Deborah Madison combines flavours and spices you would not have thought would work – and they do!  And she has some very simple combinations that astonish.  She isn’t a vegetarian herself but is the author of the best veggie book I know of (and I have a few vegetarian cookbooks and have a few more on my wishlist.)

This meal has it all, it’s quick, easy, frugal, delicious, healthy…  and exotic.   All the things I value in food. Some of you would have gathered that I like exotic.   If I find an exotic ingredient, I buy it and then search out a recipe.  But there is nothing too elusive in this one – tamarind paste can be found in most Asian stores, and HP sauce can be substituted if tamarind paste is not available.

I have spent time in Kuala Lumpur airport on the way to Europe and back, but that is my extent of a Malaysian experience.  Way back in 1982 (when South Africa was persona non grata to much of the world) C made a business trip to Singapore and Malaysia from South Africa and I wasn’t able to go with him on my (then) South African passport.  (He had a British passport – we are both now Australians).  My not being able to go made Malaysia seem all the more exotic and glamorous.  C doesn’t remember much except that it was VERY humid.  He did make a trip to the Cameron Highlands which he enjoyed.

Malaysian food is often overlooked for the more popular Thai or Vietnamese cuisines here in Australia.  But I love the combination of influences that make up Malaysian food, and nasi lemak and laksa are two of my favourite dishes.  Be brave and try this one – even though it’s not a traditional dish!

Malaysian-Inspired Tofu Curry


350g firm tofu
400ml unsweetened coconut milk
2 tsp light brown sugar (10ml)
1/2 tsp salt (2.5ml)
1 tbs ground coriander (15ml)
2 tsp curry powder (10ml)
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne or to taste
1 tsp tamarind paste (substitute HP sauce if tamarind paste is unavailable)
2 large cloves garlic; finely chopped
1 tbs finely chopped fresh ginger
4 roma (egg) tomatoes; seeded and diced
4 spring onions; including the firm greens, chopped
1 lime; juice of
cilantro (coriander); chopped


1. Drain then dice the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine the coconut milk, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, spices, tamarind paste, garlic and ginger in a medium pan. Boil for 1 minute, then add tofu. Lower the heat and simmer 10 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes and green onions and simmer approximately 10 minutes more. Add the lime juice and salt for taste.   Vegetarian oyster sauce makes a nice addition here too.

Serve garnished with chopped cilantro (coriander) over Chinese egg noodles, linguine or rice.

Serves: 4-6
from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison


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