If I found myself in a life where meat wasn't readily available, I guess vegetarianism wouldn't be the end of my world just as long as I had easy enough access to some great Indian ingredients and techniques from which some of the finest vegetarian food comes.
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
50g fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large hot green chilli, chopped (remove the seeds if you like)
6-7 curry leaves
1 tsp ground cumin
Seeds from 5 cardamom pods
10 tomatoes, cored and split in two widthways
75g creamed coconut dissolved in 5-6 tblsp boiling water
Squeeze of lime juice, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh coriander, chopped, to garnish
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed shallow pot or frying pan. Add the garlic, ginger, chilli, curry leaves (if you have them), cumin and cardamom. Allow the spices to stew gently before laying the tomatoes on top, skin side down. Lightly salt their surfaces and spoon over the coconut cream.
Loosely cover and set over an extremely low heat. Much of the juice from the tomatoes will form a sauce, helped along by the creamed coconut. When this is coming along nicely, baste the tomatoes with the sauce to amalgamate the coconut cream.
When the dish is ready – after about 30 minutes – the tomatoes should still have their shape and the sauce will be slightly separated but creamy in parts (if it seems too dry, add a little water).
Squeeze over the lime juice, grind on the pepper and sprinkle with coriander. It’s best served at room temperature as a first course, or with devilled chicken, perhaps should this vegetarian nonsense prove all to much...