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Curried Vegetable Stew with Tamarind & Coconut Milk

3 ounces tamarind pulp, seedless
1 cup water, boiling

2 teaspoons coriander, ground
2 teaspoons cumin, ground
1 teaspoon fenugreek seed, ground
1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, ground
2 whole star anise, or dash of fennel seed
3 tablespoons oil, vegetable
1 large yellow onion, 1/8" slices
2 teaspoons ginger, finely chopped
6 whole red chiles, Thai type stemmed and thinly sliced crosswise
1 large red bell pepper, 1" thick slices
3 cups cauliflower florets, bite size pieces
4 ounces shiitake or portabello mushrooms, 1/4" slices
1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
14 ounces coconut milk
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups garbanzo beans or yellow lentils
2 cups snow peas, or sugar snaps
4 tablespoons cilantro, chopped

Place the tamarind in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Crush
with a fork and set aside to soften for 1 to 2 hours, breaking up
the pulp occasionally. Put through a sieve, using a spoon or
spatula to push through the pulp. Discard the fibrous material

in the sieve. Measure 1/3 cup of tamarind puree and set aside.
Combine the spices in a small bowl and set aside. Heat the oil over
medium heat in a heavy 4 quart pot with tight fitting lid. When
it is hot, add the onion, ginger, garlic, and chiles, and cook,
stirring, until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add the
spices and cook stirring until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the
red bell pepper, cauliflower, and mushrooms, and sprinkle with
salt. Stir the spices, and continue to cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.
Increase the heat to high, and add the tamarind puree, coconut
milk, and water to the pan. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat
and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the
garbanzo beans and simmer for 10 minutes until the vegetables are
just tender. Add the peas and simmer for 5 minutes until they are
just tender. Remove the star anise. Add salt to taste and sprinkle
with cilantro.


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