I seem to be getting in the habit of making a big pot of something at the beginning of every week, and then eating it for lunch every day. I’m pleased with it—less to think about in the morning—and surprisingly haven’t gotten too tired of the same lunch day after day. I eat pretty much the same breakfast too. I suspect that is cultural bias—same breakfast is okay but if you eat the same meal for dinner 4 days in a row there is a problem. When I studied abroad (in Cameroon) this was not the case, I stayed in a village for a week and when we made a huge pot of cabbage thing we ate it for days (lunch and dinner) until it was gone. Lack of refrigeration, among other challenges, gives you fewer options.
Even the best curries are relatively uncomplicated. The key is sourcing good curry powder, or better yet, paste. I happen to have curry powder so that’s what I use, but if you have access to a Thai grocery store, go for the paste, because it’ll pack in more flavor.
Coconut milk is rather an odd thing. I bought normal instead of low-fat because I can’t abide by low-fat nonsense, but it might be a little too rich, so I definitely understand now why most recipes call for the reduced version. Instead, I only added about half a can and now have the exciting challenge of finding something to do with the other half. I think I’ll put in it pancakes or something. I wish I had a waffle maker.
This recipe features once again my old standard of fried tofu. I like slightly larger chunks here than in say, a pasta dish, and you can fry them even larger—in strips if you want to. It is also a good candidate to use whatever vegetables you happen to have around: carrots, radishes (traditional would be a daikon radish, but that’s not something I tend to have unless I’m planning ahead), red peppers, sweet potatoes, etc. I also threw in some green beans from my freezer because I wanted a little greenery.
I’ve made this with and without pumpkin and I must say I prefer the latter. Just provides a little extra oomph to the sauce. Also it’s a great way to use up that pumpkin you made for cookies and only partially needed.
Pumpkin Coconut Tofu Curry
1/4 teaspoon each of curry powder (your favorite), turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, and cardamom
1/2 an onion, sliced lengthwise
1 red bell pepper
1 hot pepper
1 large carrot
Other veggies, such as radishes
1/2 cup green beans (from my freezer, but obviously if you have fresh that's better)
A good chunk of fresh ginger, minced
A block of tofu
Around 15 oz puréed pumpkin
2ish cups stock
1/2 can of coconut milk
Scallions, for garnish
First chop all your veggies. I like them in long strips for this, except for carrots, which I cut in half lengthwise and then slice diagonally, so you get long-ish flat pieces. Put the spices in a dry pan and heat for around 30 seconds, until aromatic. Careful not to burn. Add oil and veggies and stir around, sautéing until at least the onions are soft.
Add the pumpkin and stir around for a minute—I was hoping it would get a little browned as well, and didn’t, but I may have been a little impatient. Add the stock and coconut milk and simmer gently.
Meanwhile, chop up, soak, and fry the tofu. If you don’t want to use up a whole ton of oil that is required to properly fry things, a fairly light layer (like 1/4 inch) will do, just make sure to turn them often. Add the fried cubes/strips to the curry pot, let simmer for a few more minutes (it will be thick), then serve, preferably over rice. Garnish with sliced scallions.
I went to a nutrition talk the other day and the man there said that organic brown rice apparently has very high levels of arsenic in it, so it’s something to be avoided. That’s what I used here, but a general note for the future. The problem, apparently, is that the rice is grown where cotton and tobacco used to, and they had high levels of toxins sprayed on them to keep away pests and the like, which rice is fantastically good at absorbing. I would assume that organic standards take that sort of situation into account, but maybe not. Regardless, maybe something to be cautious of (as if we didn’t have enough already). Sigh.
As another note, don’t forget to vote tomorrow (if you are American)! Voting is the only way you can definitively voice your opinion where it matters. Even in races that are already more or less decided, your vote will show where you want to be headed, and that will shape future political directions. If you don’t vote, you have no right to complain about anything, ever, because so much is affected by politics. If you would only vote based on food issues, Food Policy Action is a good place to start, although there are a myriad of issues that would benefit from more detailed research, and food is so intertwined with everything else that really it can’t be the sole issue on your plate. Get to it!