Spicy tofu curry recipe (vegan) and my cookbook giveaway winners!

spicy tofu curry (vegan)

Guys! I'm about to step on a plane home to New Zealand! But before I go I thought I share this post, which was originally written for Common Threads, a beautiful collaboration I've been part of since the start of the year which was started by my dear friend Sash from Inked In Colour. Also, the lucky five winners who each receive a copy of my book (as drawn by random.org) are: Steph Lowe, Amy Zhong, Katie, Leah Blakes and Verity Osborn Holland. For those of you who haven't been in touch yet (a couple only had Google+ accounts linked to their comments!!), please email me your postal address to emma(at)mydarlinglemonthyme(dot)com. It was so cool reading through all of your comments and seeing which recipes you really love. Huge congrats to the winners! 

Lastly, just in case you've missed the news elsewhere: Auckland friends, I'm having a book launch on Thursday evening (24th), 6pm onwards at Cook the Books in Grey Lynn. Info on where to grab tickets here. Raglan (or the greater Waikato!) friends, come hang out at The Herbal Dispensary on the 26th between 3-5pm. I'll be speaking briefly at 3.30pm or simply come along to say hi and grab a signed copy of my book or to get your copy signed. Info on how to RSVP here. You can also catch me chatting with my pal Kara on George FM sometime around 3.30pm on Wednesday 23rd. Hopefully I'll still make sense after only a few hours sleep on the plane! Haha.


Cooking from scratch doesn't need to be a big scary thing, all it really takes is a little time and some forward planning and preparation on your part. Keep your pantry, fridge and freezer stocked with basics and suddenly you'll realise it's often easier to make your favourite take-out and you'll save yourself more than just the trip in the process. Yes I know, I know, it's super easy to just buy ready-made curry pastes (and they definitely have their place on occasion), but if you have a few key ingredients at hand, a fresh fragrant curry will be on the table in the time it takes to cook some rice (or drive to the shops for those takeaways!). 

Being prepared is the name of the game. To make life easier I always have numerous rice's and noodles (and spices and candlenuts) in my pantry, chillies, kaffir lime leaves and ginger in my freezer, there's a little jar of fermented tofu that hangs out in the corner of my fridge- second shelf down, while lemongrass and herbs grow out back in large pots, always ready for picking.

spicy tofu curry (vegan)
spicy tofu curry (vegan)
spicy tofu curry (vegan)

This curry base can be jazzed up with whatever vegetables you have kicking around in your garden or fridge, but I've chosen to keep things ultra simple and have only used tofu. Serve it up with some jasmine rice or rice noodles (as I've done here), a scattering of mung bean shoots, fresh herbs and a good squeeze of lime for that full South East Asian experience. You could even thin the sauce down a tad with more coconut milk and water and serve it over rice noodles as you would a laksa. See, easy eh?

spicy tofu curry (vegan)
Spicy tofu curry

A quick trip to your local Asian grocery store may be in order to find some of these ingredients if you don't usually have them at hand. There you will find candlenuts (macadamias can be used instead if need-be or simply omit), fermented tofu (it sells in little jars for a couple of bucks, once opened store indefinitely in the fridge). We grow our own lemongrass, but if you don't, buy it in bulk, finely chop the white ends and freeze excess in a zip-lock bag. The same goes for ginger (this can be frozen whole and grated from frozen) and kaffir lime leaves (freeze in zip-lock bags). Chillies can also be frozen and used straight from the freezer. As always, when buying coconut milk, look for ones which only contain coconut and water. Avoid ones which have added thickeners, stabilisers etc...
Serve 3-4 with rice or noodles

Spice paste
1 small red onion or shallot, peeled and chopped roughly
3 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 long red chilli, roughly chopped
5 candlenuts *see headnotes
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 tablespoons fermented tofu *see headnotes

Curry sauce
1 tablespoon virgin coconut or olive oil
1 lemongrass stalk, white end only, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely grated ginger
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 cup (250ml) coconut milk
1/4 cup (60ml) water, or extra as needed
250g packet non GMO firm tofu, cut into 1cm dice
the juice of 1-2 limes + extra to serve if desired

Cooked jasmine rice or rice noodles, to serve
Mung bean shoots, fresh herbs and slices chilli, to serve

Place all the spice paste ingredients, except the fermented tofu, into a small food processor or blender. Pulse until a relatively smooth paste forms, add the tofu and continue to blend until paste-like. You can continue on with the recipe, or store the paste in the fridge for 2-3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the spice paste and cook, while stirring for 2-3 minutes until lovely, fragrant and thick. Add a touch of water if it's catching on the bottom of your pan. Add lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves and cook for a further 1-2 minutes (again, add a touch of water if you need to). Pour in coconut milk, water and tofu, give it all a good stir, bring up to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Add lime juice and check seasoning. Serve curry with cooked rice or rice noodles, scatter over some mung bean shoots, fresh herbs such as coriander (cilantro), Thai basil or mint and a few rounds of chilli if you like things hot. Have some extra wedges of lime to squeeze over if desired. 

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  • Reply
    molly yeh
    April 22, 2014 at 1:32 am

    i have never hear of a candlenut! i am going to go google it. i do love a good curry! except normally when i feel like it i order takeout 🙂 i really should end this laziness and make this recipe asap.

    have a wonderful trip!!!!

    • Reply
      April 22, 2014 at 10:23 am

      macadamia nuts are often used as a substitute for candlenuts molly

    • Reply
      April 29, 2014 at 6:17 am

      Thanks Molly! And cheers for that Simonn, I mentioned the macadamia sub in the headnotes of the recipe for those who can't get their hands on candlenuts. I reckon cashew nuts would work in a similar way too. xx

  • Reply
    Sash @ Inked in Colour
    April 22, 2014 at 2:20 am

    Seriously. I'm actually having this for dinner tonight… what a timely post Em 😉 – Have an AMAZING trip!! Can't wait to hear all about it!

    • Reply
      April 29, 2014 at 6:10 am

      Cheers Sash, hope you liked it! xx

  • Reply
    Sini | my blue and white kitchen
    April 22, 2014 at 9:01 am

    This looks so unbelievably good, Emma! This is the first time I hear about candlenuts so I'm really eager to go searching for them at my Asia market. Also, I've never made curry paste from scratch. That needs to be changed!

    Have a wonderful trip to beautiful New Zealand!

    • Reply
      April 29, 2014 at 6:12 am

      Thanks heaps Sini, I had a wonderful (albeit short!) trip home. If you have no luck finding candlenuts, simply leave out or sub in macadamia or cashew nuts instead xx

  • Reply
    tammi | recipe junkie
    April 22, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    Once I realised just how easy it is to make curry paste I was sold! The taste really can't be beaten.
    I've not heard of candlenuts either, must hunt some down to try.
    Emm, where might I find a decent Asian grocer here in Perth? We have one near where I live but everything is always way out of date. I'm SOR but happy to travel.

    • Reply
      April 29, 2014 at 6:15 am

      There's a really, really great Asian Grocer opposite the Canning Vale Markets, in the same carpark on Bannister Road. It carries all sorts of goodies!

    • Reply
      tammi | recipe junkie
      May 5, 2014 at 11:14 am

      Awesome! Thank you.

  • Reply
    Abby @ The Frosted Vegan
    April 22, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    Looving all these tips for a good curry at home, I need to try this! Have fun in NZ, it's gorgeous!

  • Reply
    erin {yummy supper}
    April 22, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Hey lovely! I hope you have a wonderful trip home to NZ! xoxox E

  • Reply
    April 22, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Looks like a winning curry recipe. So cool that you grow your own lemongrass!
    And thanks for introducing me to a new ingredient- candle nuts. I think I'm going to order some and of course this will be the first thing I make with them 🙂

  • Reply
    InTolerant Chef
    April 23, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Totally my favourite flavours, so yummy! X

  • Reply
    london bakes
    April 23, 2014 at 1:30 pm

    Totally love a bowl of spicy curry goodness of an evening and this sounds wonderful. The colours are so bright and fresh too. Have a lovely trip back to NZ xo

  • Reply
    April 24, 2014 at 11:51 am

    This looks amazing! I have a block of tofu in the fridge but wasn't quite sure what to do with it, it will be my first tofu dish. Was thinking a stir fry but now I'm set on a curry! Wish me luck =)
    Have a fab time in NZ x

  • Reply
    April 24, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Looks so yummy! I would eat this with some brown rice!

  • Reply
    dishing up the dirt
    April 25, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    Sounds amazing.

  • Reply
    J.S. @ Sun Diego Eats
    April 25, 2014 at 5:20 pm

    Tried to make this with low fat coconut milk but the sauce broke, still yummy but I guess you have to stick with full fat for the smooth creamy sauce…

    • Reply
      April 29, 2014 at 6:09 am

      Yep I recommend using full fat coconut milk, always. Mostly because of all the nasties they hide in the low fat versions. You can always use half coconut milk, half water or vegetable stock to keep the fat content down. xx

  • Reply
    Franklin Parker
    May 1, 2014 at 5:20 am

    Yummy and spicy 🙂

  • Reply
    Kelly O
    August 26, 2014 at 3:34 am

    This looks so delish! I have one question: is it possible to substitute the fermented tofu with, say, miso? Just wondering because the fermented tofu at my local Asian grocer may not be GMO-free…

    • Reply
      August 26, 2014 at 6:17 am

      Hey love, I've not tried this recipe using miso, but by all means give it a go! It would add a lovely salty depth to the dish for sure xx

  • Reply
    Pervinder Grewal
    March 7, 2016 at 2:03 am

    Hi Emma, I would really like to try this recipe but finding it a challenge to find a jar of fermented tofu. Does it go by a different name or is there a particular brand/make you could recommend?

    • Reply
      March 7, 2016 at 6:56 am

      It's sometimes also known as Fermented Bean Curd. If you google it, you'll see photos of the jars that it comes in to give you an idea of what to look for. You can also just leave it out. It just adds a depth of flavour to vegan curries, but you could simply add a touch of soy sauce instead. It won't be the same, but still nice.

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