Recipe: Janet de Neefe’s Tofu and Spinach Curry




Everything that emerges from Janet de Neefe’s Bali kitchen is creative, exotic, authentic and utterly delicious. This enticing curry is up there with her finest and is easy to prepare at home for that little touch of the Island of  the Gods.  


This golden curry focuses on an elegant blend of ginger, galangal, lemongrass and other aromatics. It is vital and deeply satisfying, belonging to the category of no-frills Balinese home cooking.

Serves 4-6


Spice Paste

6 red shallots, or 1/3 brown onion, roughly chopped

4 garlic cloves

6 long red chillies, seeded, roughly chopped

3 small red chillies, roughly chopped (optional)

2 lemongrass stalks, white part only, roughly chopped

3 tablespoons chopped galangal

1 1/2 tablespoon chopped ginger

1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh turmeric

4 candlenuts or I teaspoon ground almonds

1 tablespoon coriander seeds or ground coriander

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 tablespoons grated palm sugar or brown sugar

sea salt


3 tablespoons oil

2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and tied in knots

3 kaffir lime leaves

400g tofu, semi-firm, chopped into pieces, approx. 2cm x 2cm

2 teaspoons tamarind mixed with

150 – 200 ml water

150 ml coconut milk

1 bunch of spinach, washed, chopped

2 tablespoons fried shallots


Pound the spice paste ingredients to a smooth paste in a mortar, or blitz them in a food processor.

Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and add the spice paste. Fry for 30 seconds then add the lemongrass and lime leaves and fry for another minute, until fragrant and glossy.

Pour in the water, tamarind and simmer for about five minutes.

Add the tofu and simmer for 3 minutes, being careful not to break it up.

Add the coconut milk and spinach and cook on a low heat for a further 3 minutes. Check seasonings.

Serve with steamed rice, topped with the fried shallots