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5 from 2 votes

Tofu 'Shrimp' Curry

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings: 8


  • 1 block of soft tofu. Swaddle it in paper napkins and leave in a colander with a heavy weight on it-- like a steel saucepan-- for about an hour for the water to drain out of it. Cut it into slices , about ½-inch thick.
  • Marinate the tofu in a mixture of:
  • 1 tsp grated garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
  • After 30 minutes , bake the tofu in a 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes or until it's golden brown on top and quite chewy. If you cut the tofu in big slices, cut it into smaller cubes before adding it to the curry.
  • For the sauce:
  • 1 1- inch ball of tamarind , soaked in ½ cup of warm water for about half an hour. Squeeze the solids to extract the tamarind pulp and strain if it's too lumpy. Reserve the pulp.
  • 2 ancho chillies. Remove the stem and seeds. (Cut down to one ancho for a less smoky version, or substitute this with a mild paprika if you'd rather)
  • 2 arbol chillies.
  • ¼ tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 large onion or 2 small ones , chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 tbsp cashew nuts
  • 1 tsp canola or other vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig curry leaves
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp jaggery (can use regular or brown sugar instead)
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup coriander leaves , chopped


  • Soak the deseeded anchos in water for about 30 minutes.
  • Toast the fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and peppercorns in a dry skillet set over medium heat, about 2 minutes or until the spices start to get fragrant and the coriander seeds turn a couple of shades darker. Don't walk away because you do not want the fenugreek-- or anything else-- to burn.
  • Remove the spices from the skillet and set aside to cool.
  • Toast the soaked anchos and the arbol chilies in the skillet until they start to change color. Flip over and toast the other side. Altogether this won't take more than 2 minutes.
  • Add the anchos, arbol, toasted spices, onion, garlic and cashew nuts to a blender. Add enough water to make a thick, smooth paste. I like to make mine really smooth because I love the velvety texture of the finished curry.
  • Heat the oil in a saucepan.
  • Add the mustard seeds and when they sputter, add the curry leaves.
  • Toast for a few seconds, and then add the blended chili and onion paste.
  • Cook over medium heat, stiirring constantly, until the mixture turns a few shades darker and the water has evaporated.
  • Add the tamarind pulp along with 1 cup water. If the curry is too thick, add more water.
  • Add salt, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat so the sauce simmers. Let it cook for 15 minutes without covering it.
  • Add the tofu cubes and let the sauce simmer for another five minutes.
  • Add the coconut milk and jaggery. Mix well and warm through. Turn off the heat and garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Serve hot with Dill Rice (recipe below).