Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for tofu and coconut curry

At this time of year, in the tunnel between the last heat of summer and the uncompromising cold of winter (let’s call it autumn?), I just want to eat curry. But not the oily, rich sort that needs to be mopped up with naan. Instead, I want something sharp, fresh, hot, sour and salty that will make me feel alive – such as today’s recipe, which borrows flavours from Thai cooking. It’s packed with chilli, ginger, turmeric and lime, with tofu and coconut thrown in to round things out. I hope it will awaken your senses, clear your sinuses and put a hop in your step and a skip in your hop.

Tofu and coconut curry with turmeric and Thai basil
I use a brand of tofu (Tofoo) that doesn’t need pressing, but if you use any other firm or extra-firm tofu, it may well need to be.

Prep 15 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4

450g extra-firm tofu
Rapeseed oil
300g green beans, topped and tailed
1 onion, peeled and finely sliced
5cm x 4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced
1 ½ tsp caster sugar
½ tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp fine sea salt (or to taste)
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1½ tbsp fresh lime juice (ie, from 1 lime)
25g Thai basil leaves
Jasmine rice, to serve

Holding it over the sink, lightly press the tofu block between your hands to get rid of as much water as possible. Wrap in kitchen paper, press again, then unwrap and cut into 2½cm cubes.

Put a large plate to one side of the stove – you’ll use this later for the cooked tofu and beans – and have ready a pair of tongs (or two forks) with which to turn the tofu. Heat three tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. When very hot, add the tofu and fry for six to eight minutes, turning every minute or two, until golden brown all over. Keeping the pan on the heat, carefully transfer the tofu to the plate.

Add the green beans to the hot pan, shake to settle them into a single layer, and leave them to blister in the hot oil for two minutes. Turn over the beans, repeat on the other side and, once they’re all flecked with brown, transfer to the tofu plate.

Put the pan back on the heat and add a tablespoon or so more oil. Once that’s good and hot, add the onion and fry, stirring, for six minutes, until it’s turning translucent and starting to catch at the edges. Add the ginger and chilli, stir-fry for two minutes, then stir in the sugar, turmeric and salt. Add the coconut milk, the cooked tofu and beans, and the lime juice, bring everything up to a simmer, then leave to cook for five minutes.

Stir in the Thai basil leaves, cook for a final minute, until they wilt, then stir again and taste – adjust the lime and salt if need be. Serve in bowls over some freshly steamed jasmine rice.