marrow & tomato masala

(from Simon Hopkinson’s The Vegetarian Option)

Serves 4

1 marrow (about 1kg)


2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

2 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp masala paste

12 curry leaves (fresh or dried) (optional)

750g cherry tomatoes

50g butter, thinly sliced

freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 160C/gas mark 3

Trim the ends of the marrow, cut it in half down the middle and then halve each piece lengthways.  Scrape out the fibre and seeds and then cut each quarter in half again lengthways giving 8 marrow ‘boats’.  Salt generously over the cut surfaces and drain the marrow in a colander for about 40mins to release some of the juices.  Rinse and dry.

In a large casserole (with a lid), fry the onions and garlic in the oil until golden.  Add the masala paste and stir for a few minutes.  Lay the marrow pieces, skin side down on top and add the curry leaves.  Then tip over the tomatoes.  Season and dot with the slices of butter.  Cover with the lid and place in the oven for about 90 mins.

If the marrow is fresh and young the skin should be tender enough to eat otherwise just scoop off the flesh.

NB – I have successfully used tinned tomatoes for this

Masala Paste Recipe

4 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

2 tsp fennel seeds

2 tsp brown mustard seeds

2 tsp whole cloves

2 tsp small dried red chillies

small handful of dried curry leaves (optional)

300g onions (peeled and chopped)

125g garlic cloves (peeled and chopped)

150g fresh ginger (peeled and chopped)

2 tbsp tamarind paste

2 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

100g creamed coconut

2 tsp Maldon Salt

2 tsp caster sugar

Toast the whole spices in a frying pan until they start to smell but take care not to burn them.  Let them cool and then process them in a coffee grinder or something similar until powdered.

Place the curry leaves, onions, garlic, ginger, tamarind paste, turmeric, vinegar, coconut, salt and sugar in a food processor.  Add the freshly ground spices and process everything until smooth.  Makes about 700 ml.  Store in a glass jar with a layer of oil over the top in the fridge and use when required. 

I know it seems a lot of work but once you have made it you can keep it in the freezer for up to a year and use it for anything requiring an authentic Asian flavour.