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Carrot Curry

['10 star anise pods', '8 cardamom pods', '2 cinnamon sticks', '1 1/2 tablespoons garam masala', '2 pounds plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise', '2 tablespoons canola oil', '6 shallots, minced (about 3/4 cup)', '4 cups pure carrot juice', '1/4 cup fresh lime juice', 'Pinch of saffron threads', '1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut milk', 'Kosher salt', '8 large carrots, peeled and cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks', 'Garnish: Coconut milk', 'cilantro leaves', 'fresh lime juice and zest', 'rice']

Put the star anise, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, and garam masala in a small dry skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring, just until fragrant, about 30 seconds; be careful not to burn the spices. Scrape onto a plate and set aside.
Grate the cut sides of the tomatoes on the large holes of a flat or box grater set over (or in) a bowl; discard the skins. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and the toasted spices, then add the carrot juice and lime juice, bring to a simmer, and cook gently again until the sauce can easily coat the back of a spoon, about 30 minutes.
Add the saffron and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the coconut milk and cook for another few minutes to let the flavors get friendly. Remove from the heat and pick out and discard the whole spices. With an immersion blender, blend the sauce until smooth (or use a regular blender), then pour it into a smaller saucepan. Season with salt.
Add the carrots to the curry sauce and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are tender, about 35 minutes.
Spoon the curry into bowls and drizzle each serving with a bit of coconut milk. Garnish each bowl with cilantro leaves, lime zest, and lime juice. Serve with rice.

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