Monday, July 15, 2024
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Brunei Town

Comfort food reimagined

Many recipes for Indian curries such as tikka masala and butter chicken call for copious amounts of butter, yogurt and cream to give them a rich, satisfying texture. For a lighter vegetarian interpretation of the takeout classic, meaty cremini mushrooms stand in for chicken and pureed cashews make up the base of the curry.

In this recipe from our book Cook What You Have, which draws on pantry staples to assemble easy, weeknight meals, we soften cashews in a bit of water, then blend them until smooth to make a puree that lends creamy texture without making the dish heavy.

The puree then is cooked with an aromatic mixture of onion, garlic, ginger, garam masala and paprika until it begins to brown, concentrating the flavours. Canned tomatoes and water are added to release any browned bits and ensure no flavour is left behind on the pan. Cremini mushrooms are simmered until tender and the sauce is creamy. If you have only white mushrooms on hand, they’ll work well, too.

For a pop of color, stir half a cup of thawed frozen peas into the curry at the end of cooking. Warm naan or nutty brown rice are wonderful accompaniments.

TOMATO-MUSHROOM CURRY

Start to finish: 40 minutes

Servings: Four

  • Half cup roasted salted cashews, plus two tablespoons chopped cashews, divided
  • Three tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
  • One medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Four medium garlic cloves, minced
  • One tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
  • One tablespoon garam masala
  • Two teaspoons hot paprika or two teaspoons sweet paprika plus one-eighth teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 14.5-ounce crushed tomatoes
  • One pound cremini or white mushrooms, trimmed, halved if medium, quartered if large

In a blender, combine the half cup of cashews and one-third cup of water; soak for about 10 minutes. Puree on high until smooth, scraping the jar as needed, one to two minutes; set aside.

In a pan, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, six to nine minutes.

Add the garlic, ginger, garam masala, paprika and half teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about one minute.

Add the cashew puree and cook, stirring often, until browned and sticking to the bottom of the skillet, about two minutes.

Add the tomatoes and three-quarter cup water, scraping up the browned bits, then stir in the mushrooms and three-quarter teaspoon salt. Cover, reduce to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally and scraping along the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking, until the mushrooms are very tender and the sauce is creamy, 10 to 15 minutes. Off heat, taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve sprinkled with the chopped cashews.

Optional garnish: Chopped fresh cilantro or lemon wedges or both. – Christopher Kimball

Tomato mushroom curry. PHOTO: AP
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