Tomato Curry

Tomato Curry

Ingredients

Serves 4

Tomato Curry

  • 1tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1tbsp coriander seeds
  • 10 cardamoms
  • 1/2 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil - or other neutral-flavoured oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 400mls coconut milk
  • Small handful of curry leaves
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 16 medium-sized tomatoes, skinned and cores removed
  • 2 branches fresh green peppercorns
  • A tsp or two of sugar, depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes
  • 6-7 healthy sprigs coriander

Lemon Pilau Rice

  • 40g butter
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 200g basmati rice [I always use Tilda and don't wash it]
  • 320g water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small lemon, zest removed with a potato peeler in thin strips and the juice squeezed into a small jug
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • A small knob of extra butter

Cucumber Raita

  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 300g plain yoghurt [not Greek]
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and finely chopped
  • 1 green chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tbsp chopped mint

Method

Tomato Curry:

  1. Using a frying pan, lightly toast the first 7 whole spices until aromatic; take care that they don't scorch, however.
  2. Heat the oil in a wide and shallow pan and add the whole spices. Fry for a couple of minutes over a moderate heat then add the turmeric and salt.
  3. Pour in the coconut milk, curry leaves and stir in the tamarind paste. Bring up to a simmer and allow to quietly cook for about 15 minutes.
  4. Now, using a stick blender, blitz the mixture for a few seconds, just to break up the spices (any longer and the spices will fall through the sieve). Pass the sauce through a fine sieve and return it to the [washed up] pot.
  5. Remove the peppercorns from their branches and add 1 tbsp of them to the sauce, then return to a low heat. Core the tomatoes and then submerge in a bowl of boiling water to loosen the skins. Drain, and then carefully remove the skins.
  6. Put the tomatoes into the sauce removed core side down. Allow the tomatoes to simmer in the sauce until softened and also that the sauce has reduced and become a touch thicker; about 15-20 minutes. Finally, taste the sauce to see if it needs a touch of sugar or more salt. Add the chopped coriander leaves when you are ready to serve.

Lemon Pilau Rice:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4.
  2. Melt the butter in a roomy pot that also has a tight fitting lid. Add the onion and cook gently until lightly golden.
  3. Tip in the rice and stir around a bit in the butter and onion until well coated. Finely cut the strips of lemon zest into small slivers and stir into the pot.
  4. Pour in the water, season with a little salt and pepper and add the bay leaf whole. Bring to a simmer. Once the rice is simmering, put on the lid and slide into the oven. Cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven, don't lift off the lid, and leave to sit for 5 minutes. Now take off the lid, fluff up the rice with a fork while also pouring in the lemon juice. Lay a tea towel over the pan and then clamp the lid on tight. Leave be for another 5 minutes; this allows the rice to steam, which will then be absorbed by the towel.
  6. Finally, remove the lid and towel - wonderful fragrant niff now emanating - and stir in the knob of butter to glisten the rice. 

Cucumber Raita:

  1. Coarsely grate the cucumbers and sprinkle over the salt. Mix well, put into a colander and suspend over a deep bowl. Leave to soak and drip for about 30 minutes - or a bit longer, it matters not.
  2. Manually, squeeze out excess moisture from the cucumber, then place it in a bowl and mix in the yoghurt, garlic, chilli and mint. Decant into a serving dish and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.