Thursday, July 20, 2006
A Lighter Curry
Today was one of those (many) days where I wake up thinking about what I'm going to make for dinner. Such moods are usually based on indecision and uncertainty combined with the need to move away from something I've been eating a lot of.
Hmm... what to make. Do I even have any stuff sitting around that I can use? Well, no meat. Too much meat these last few days.
A few minutes after rising, I had an idea. As I said goodbye to Margy, who was on her way to work, my last words went vaguely like this: "I'm gonna try something for dinner tonight, and it might not work out. Have a swell day!"
She asked me what I was planning.
"An Indian curry, with tofu" -- tofu that would go bad in another day if I didn't use it -- "and some shrimp" -- I had eight little guys left in a two-pound freezer bag and thought they'd make everything a little more exciting.
She trusted me.
But I just didn't know if I could pull off the tofu. I had excellent fresh tofu (which wasn't really that close to spoiling), and I didn't want it to turn to scrambled eggs in the rich and powerful sauce. Scrambled tofu is another matter; I wanted this to hold its shape. So I fried the hell out of it, in peanut oil perfumed with cumin seeds. I let it drain and made the curry with a paste of onion, garlic, and ginger and a splash of coconut milk. Turmeric and tomato paste gave it that deep color, and the consistency was nice and thick. I tossed in the fried tofu and the shrimp for the final few minutes of cooking, and then I served the curry with green chutney I made with the last of our fleeting homegrown cilantro and, ironically, the first of our burgeoning homegrown mint.
Using tofu in a curry worked out really well. Because I had let it develop a nice crustlike coating, it stayed firm in the sauce, and its relative lack of flavor wasn't a problem in a vibrantly spiced curry. I'll make this dish again, for sure.