Here’s an album I thought you might enjoy while cooking this recipe ?
Another pantry pull recipe!
Curries have long been a favorite of Wonderful Wife’s and mine. I claim no authenticity, but I will claim extreme deliciousness. ? Not to mention it is a great way to use up veggies and proteins that need to get used. If the cupboards are bare, you can do a basic version with very simple ingredients. I’ll list some of our favorite ingredients at the end.
As long as you’ve got some onion, garlic, and curry powder, you can whip up a very tasty curry to have over rice, or just as a hearty stew.
Ingredients – What do you REALLY need?
I try not to make assumptions about other folks’ pantries – we all keep different things on hand. If you’re like us, you are greatly limited by space. We don’t have room for a truly stocked pantry, but there are a few essentials we do tend to always have around. (I’ll write a post about pantry recommendations soon!)
For a quick and easy curry, there are a few essentials, and MANY options and possibilities. This particular coconut vegetable curry uses carrots, potatoes, green beans, kale, and yummy Fresno chili peppers. Do you want to know why I used these ingredients? Because that’s what we had!
We’ll talk about possibilities later. First, let’s look at what you really do need to have in order to whip up a curry:
AROMATICS: Onion & garlic (adding fresh ginger is great for this curry!)
SPICES: Curry Powder (Cumin and chili powder will help add depth, but are not necessary)
LIQUIDS: Water will do! Stock is even better. (A can of coconut milk, regular milk or even nut milks will help add creaminess)
OTHER ‘STUFF’: Any vegetables or proteins will do, but you’ll want something so that it’s not just a big pot of curry sauce! Carrots, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, kale, cabbage, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, peppers. Proteins are not required, so I’ll save them for the ‘possibilities’ section below!
OK, let’s make this coconut vegetable curry!
I always start by preparing, measuring, and chopping ALL of the ingredients I’ll need. You may notice that I frequently start each post with a photo of all of my ingredients gathered together on my big cutting board. I find this step has a HUGE impact on my enjoyment of cooking. Running around trying to measure and cut while the clock is ticking makes for a stressful kitchen. No bueno. Take a few minutes to prep everything. This is also a great opportunity to read ALL of the steps so there are no surprises.
Start by dicing your onion! You can make the pieces as big or small as you like. If you love an ingredient and want to taste it more, leave the pieces bigger. For this recipe, I like to aim for a fairly small chop – around ½” or less. I love onions, and I leave them large for stir-fries, salsas, and salads. For stews, I chop them finer so that they really break down into the sauce. The pectin they release helps to thicken the sauce naturally.
For the garlic, I like to give them a good whack with the flat side of the knife. Then, with my left hand flat on top of the knife, just mince back and forth until the garlic is finely minced.
I recently learned a new trick for chopping fresh ginger! Since ginger is very fibrous and woody, it’s easy to end up with stringy, tough pieces that you can’t chew. This method solved that!
First, use a spoon to scrape the peel off of your ginger. The, cut it in half lengthwise and lay the cut sides flat on the board.
Next, cut crosswise into half-moons that are around ½” thick.
Here’s where it gets good. Use the flat side of your knife to give the half-moons a good WHACK, which should flatten them down. Then, just chop back and forth the same way you did with the garlic. This method allows you to chop as finely as you like, without leaving behind any large chunks.
Toss the onion, garlic and ginger into a bowl, since we will be adding them to the pot at the same time. I usually hold the garlic back until the last minute or so of sauteeing, to avoid burning. In this case, we will be softening these aromatics over medium heat with plenty of oil, so the risk of burning is minimal.
The other vegetables for this coconut curry!
Let’s talk about heat ???
As much as I talk about and use hot peppers, I am not a lover of truly FIERY foods. I love a good punch, but If I can still feel the burn 10 minutes later, I’m not as interested. This curry turned out just on the cusp of what would be too spicy for Wonderful Wife and me. It was amazing. For us, the heat level was perfect with 2 Fresno peppers, WITHOUT seeds or white pith. You can always adjust based on your heat tolerance. If you like a milder heat, use 1 pepper instead of 2, or leave it out entirely! If you are a daredevil, leave the seeds, add more than 2 peppers, or substitute with habanero or pepper of your choice.
Fresno peppers are a favorite of mine, and I’m fortunate that my local supermarket stocks them regularly. They are technically a New Mexico chile, and not a red jalapeno as is sometimes assumed. The heat level is similar to a jalapeno, but the flavor is not the green, vegetal, bell-pepper taste that I associate with green jalapenos. Fresnos have an almost tart fruitiness, and a floral (rather than vegetal) aroma.
To prep these Fresno peppers, I remove the stem-end, and then cut them in half lengthwise to expose the seeds and pith.
TIP: A spoon is the perfect tool for scraping out the seeds and white pith. Gone are the days fo me mangling a pepper with my paring knife trying to cut out all the guts.
After you remove the seeds, cut each pepper-half into 2-3 strips, and then cut crosswise into ½” to ¾” pieces.
Add the Fresno peppers to the bowl with the onions, ginger & garlic.
You can cut your carrots into discs or half moons. I decided on planks so there would be a bit more variety on the final curry. My timings are based on these sized pieces – just be aware that thicker pieces may need to cook a bit longer.
Same with the potatoes. You can leave them larger if you like, just be aware they may take a bit longer to cook. I like to be able to get more than just one piece of potato in a spoonful, so I aim for ¾” or so. Also, the slightly smaller pieces will allow more starch to incorporate with the sauce, thickening the curry. Bonus!
Time to cook this easy coconut vegetable curry!
To cook the aromatics, you want the burner somewhere between medium and medium-high. Different stoves can vary. We want to hear some good sizzle as we soften our onions, garlic, ginger, and peppers – but we don’t want to brown anything, and we certainly don’t want to burn anything. Start with medium-high and see if things feel OK. If it looks like the onions or garlic are getting brown, or if you have oil spattering, slide the pan off the heat, turn the burner down a bit, and return the pan to the heat when it has cooled a bit. It should take around 3-5 minutes to soften everything down.
Dry Spice time!
Once the aromatics have softened, add all of the dry spices and stir to coat everything. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring the whole time, to cook the spices a bit and infuse flavor. It’s ok if you get some brown bits sticking to the pan – as long as they are not black or burning. You’ll scrape those bits up when you…
Add the stock!
Add the vegetable stock, set the heat to medium-high, and bring things to a gentle boil while you stir and scrape up any yummy bits left behind on the bottom of the pot. Once you reach a boil, add the carrots & potatoes and cook for 2 minutes.
Put the coconut in the coconut vegetable curry
Add the coconut milk and JUST bring back to a boil. Then add the green beans and kale, reduce the heat to LOW, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally as the sauce thickens and the vegetables cook through.
It’s all about the garnishes
Once the vegetables are cooked and the sauce is thickened enough for your taste, it’s ready to serve!
We like this curry over basmati or jasmine rice, and with plenty of garnishes. When I was a kid, any time we would have curry, there were always MANY small bowls of garnishes on the table for everyone to choose from. Peanuts, cashews, lime wedges, raisins, cilantro, chili oil, pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges….it’s ALL very, very good.