You need

60g black tamarind (the tamarind fruit in a block, with seeds, not the bottled paste), cut into chunks

About 6cm chunk of fresh ginger, cut into thin slices

15g fresh turmeric or 15ml powdered turmeric

1 large green chilli, roughly chopped

5ml salt

1,5 litres water

15ml sunflower oil

About 1 cup of whole ripe cherry tomatoes

½ lemon, deseeded quartered and cut into 4mm slices

2-3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced


Additional 15ml canola oil

10ml cumin seeds

5ml black or white mustard seeds

2ml fenugreek (optional)

2 whole dried chillis

5ml (or more) dried chilli flakes

5ml milled black peppercorns

10 fresh or dried curry leaves or Asian lime leaves (optional)


A handful of fresh coriander leaves, roughly chopped

1 can chopped tomatoes or 4-5 ripe fresh tomatoes, grated

To serve: fresh coriander

To prepare

Place the tamarind, ginger, turmeric, chilli, salt and water in a saucepan. Bring it to the boil and allow it to simmer for 30minutes. I turn off the heat and let it stand for at least 2 hours for all the flavours to infuse.

Heat the oil and add the tomatoes, fry them until they have blistered and some are slightly scorched

Add the lemon and fry until the lemon is golden.

Finally add the garlic and cook for a few minutes.

Remove from pan.

Add the second quantity of oil and all the spices. Fry until the mustard seeds start popping and you can smell their aroma.

Add the tomato and lemon mixture, the canned tomatoes and the coriander.

Strain the solids from the water.

Mix the fragrant tamarind-turmeric water with the remaining ingredients. At this stage I add blanched green beans, broccoli florets, baby spinach or sliced mushrooms.

Bring the mixture to the boil and simmer for about 6 minutes.

Serve warm with coriander