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Cathy Katin-Grazzini

Cathy's Kitchen Prescription LLC


Creamy Tomato Curry with Soft Tofu, Eggplant, and Spinach


Today, I had a yen for an Indian curry. On the one hand I felt like something creamy and fragrant, but vegan, of course, and very healthy too.  With a nod towards both creamy, sweet-spiced Indian korma and mouth-warming, leafy saag curries, I mixed some culinary metaphors and the outcome sure hit the spot.


Unlike traditional creamy curries, it has no inflammatory butter, ghee, oil, or nuts. Instead, its luscious creaminess comes from thick soy yogurt. Seasoned with freshly roasted garam masala, it is alive with sweet spices and mild Kashmiri chilies. Instead of paneer (fresh dairy cheese), I used tender, soft-tofu, which I adore. Mauve Japanese eggplant and Asian spinach melt into the sauce, round out the flavors, and up its nutritional density.  There is so much to delight the senses, you’ll never miss the cholesterol, saturated fat, and calories that are missing here. Serve with brown rice, scented with aniseed or fennel seed or whole grain roti and savor every mouthful.


Prep time 30 minutes        Cook time 30 minutes         Serves 4-6


1 14-ounce package of soft tofu, drained and cut into ¾“ cubes

2-3 cups Greek-style soy yogurt

2 medium yellow onions, cut in a medium dice

2 tablespoons dry vermouth or no-sodium vegetable broth, or as needed, to deglaze pan

3 large cloves garlic, peeled and ground into a paste

1 ½ “ knob of ginger, peeled and ground into a paste

1 large Indian bay leaf

1 7” Ceylon cinnamon stick, broken into 3 pieces

4 green cardamom pods, cracked

1 24-26-ounce package or jar strained tomatoes or passata

1 tablespoon tomato paste

Up to 3 tablespoons fresh garam masala, or to taste

1 teaspoon freshly ground Kashmiri chilis from 3 whole chilis (optional) or to taste

2-3 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 Japanese eggplants, cut in 1 ½” batons

1 pound Asian spinach, stems removed, cut in 1” strips, or baby spinach

1 cup water or as needed

¼ cup shiro (mild, white) miso paste, thinned with water, or to taste

Cilantro leaves, torn, to garnish


Note: You can used commercial garam masala and Kashmiri chili powder, but if you make your own they will be infinitely more fragrant and flavorful and can lift this dish to another level.


Note:  Always add garam masala and chilies slowly, tasting as you go, and adjust their quantities to your own tastes.


Note: All the spices you need for this dish and to make garam masala are available online.


If making your own chili powder, remove their stems and ground 3 medium Kashmiri chilies in a coffee or spice grinder. Grind until your powder is uniform. Measure out a teaspoon and transfer the remainder to a small jar.


If making your own garam masala spice blend, roast and grind the spices and chilies now. Set aside.


To make the garlic and ginger paste, peel the garlic and ginger. Roughly cut into several smaller pieces. Transfer both together to a coffee or spice grinder and run until they have created a soft paste. Set aside.


Heat a very large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat for 3 minutes. Add the Indian bay leaf, Ceylon cinnamon, and cardamom pods, stirring, and roast dry for about a minute, until their aromas waft up to your nose. Add the onion, lower the heat to low, cover, and sweat the onion for about 5 minutes or until they release their liquid and soften.


If the pan is dry or the onions have darkened, deglaze with a tablespoon or two of vermouth or vegetable broth. Stir in the ground garlic-ginger paste. Stir in 1 ½ tablespoons of garam masala and the Kashmiri chili powder, tasting and adjusting quanities if needed. Cook on low for another minute. Then stir in the strained tomatoes and tomato paste. Cover and adjust the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir in enough turmeric to turn the mix a deep salmon color.


Add the eggplant, cover, and continue on a low simmer until the eggplant is tender but intact, in about 10-15 minutes.  Stir in enough yogurt to your desired level of creaminess and to significantly lighten the dish’s color and flavor. Stir in some or all of the remaining garam masala, tasting as you go. If the curry is dry, add enough water for the sauce to be creamy but not watery.   Now stir in the spinach, cover, and cook for the final 5 minutes.  


When the spinach has softened into the curry, season with the diluted shiro miso to taste, and correct any seasonings as you like. Turn off the heat. Now drain any liquid that the soft tofu released and gently slide it into the pan, spooning the sauce over the tofu rather than stirring the cubes to avoid breaking them. Cover and steep for a final 5 to 10 minutes so the tofu can absorb all the flavors.


Serve very hot on warmed plates, removing the Indian bay leaf, cinnamon sticks, and cardamon pods as you find them. Garnish with torn cilantro leaves.

Creamy Tomato Curry with Soft Tofu, Eggplant, and Spinach

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