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Khmer Tofu and Aubergine Curry

Khmer Tofu and Aubergine Curry

(Serves 4-5)

While many non-native foods reached Cambodia from other lands, a wealth of sugar palms, coconut trees, papayas, mangoes, and bananas are indigenous and thrive happily in the warm region. Vegetables are colorful, plentiful, and often grow wild. Bright displays of lufa gourd, eggplant, water spinach, yard-long beans, mushrooms, cabbage, bamboo shoots, Chinese broccoli, carrots, garlic, and snow peas are readily available at open-air farmers' markets.

I've adapted this typically spicy Cambodian curry to be far milder than its original fiery version but every bit as delicious. In addition to their frequent use of chilies and black pepper, Southeast Asian cooks turn to fresh herbs, which they use liberally to infuse their foods with enticing flavors`. Because fresh herbs love Cambodia's hot, humid climate, they grow with enthusiasm. Serve this tasty curry over brown rice or rice noodles.

Using Kaffir Lime Leaves

Endowed with a uniquely delicious flavor, these aromatic leaves add a desirable touch to Southeast Asian soups, curries, and sauces. Look for fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves in Asian markets. If the leaves are fresh and pliable, use them whole or slice them into 1/8 -inch slivers and add to stirfries or soups as directed. If the leaves are dried, use them whole in recipes with plenty of liquid, such as soups or saucy dishes. Discard before serving.

Where to Kuy

Fresh lemongrass is often available in chain grocery stores across the country and readily available in Asian markets. If you are unable to locate fresh lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves locally, you can order them fresh or dried from Thai Supermarket Online: http:!I www. importfood. com,/

Both are also available in dried form at Savory Spice Shop: http:!Iwww. savory spice shop, com

½ pound extra-firm tofu

5 cloves garlic, crushed

2 shallots, peeled and sliced

1 red chili, sliced into thin slivers

1 Tablespoon oil

2 ½ cups lite coconut milk

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

2 Japanese eggplants, cut lengthwise into eighths, then into 1/2-inch pieces

1 medium broccoli crown, cut into bite-size florets

½ red bell pepper, cut into IZ-inch-long matchsticks

4 Tablespoons low-salt soy sauce

3 Tablespoons vegan sugar*

8 kaffir lime leaves

Pinch cayenne

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

2 Tablespoons water

Pepper

4 sprigs basil leaves

In a large, deep skillet, combine the tofu, garlic, shallots, chili, and oil and cook over high heat, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture begins to brown. Add 1 or more Tablespoons of water if needed to keep the mixture moist.

Add the coconut milk, vegetable broth, eggplants, broccoli, bell pepper, soy sauce, sugar, lime leaves, and cayenne, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium, partially cover the pan, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender.

Combine the cornstarch and water in a small cup and stir to form a thin paste. Add the paste to the gently bubbling mixture, stirring constantly for about 1 minute, or until the mixture is thickened.

Season with pepper. Stir in the basil leaves and cook only until the basil has wilted.

Total calories per serving: 312

Carbohydrates: 34 grams

Sodium: 674 milligrams

Fat: 16 grams

Protein: 10 grams

Fiber: 6 grams