Yellow or Red

Last night, I made Thai red curry with vegetables. But technically, it was yellow. Hard to say. But I distinctly remember following a red curry paste recipe, from my "go-to" reference book in the kitchen, bittman's How To Cook Everything. The simple fact is that coconut milk dilutes the strong colors found in the homemade curry paste. I made a green thai curry from scratch a few months ago, and that also looked more yellow than green. I blame it on the lemongrass.

Even though I know it is just so easy to buy a little jar of Thai curry paste these days, it takes all the fun out of preparing your own. And this way you can control how spicy it is or how strong the flavors are. I didn't use as exotic ingredients as last time, meaning I didn't have to go to a specialist Thai supermarket just to make dinner. That is a huge plus. Although I did happen to have some wonderful brown rice noodles in the cupboard that I strongly suggest you try. They were king soba organic brown rice & wakame noodles (extra bonus minerals!) and hold up their consistency so much better than your average white rice noodles. Seriously, seek these out.

The curry itself was so simple to make and versatile in its contents. I went with a variety of vegetables - chicken or tofu wouldn't go amiss here though. The piece de resistance came in the form of purple kale leaves, torn up and stirred through during the last minute of cooking. I picked up some up at the farmers market last weekend and not only did it add wonderful color, it also boosted the nutritional profile of this curry by a million. Kale or spinach is mandatory in this dish - I refuse to let you cook it otherwise.

Thai Curry with Vegetables & Kale

serves 4

The particulars:

  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 large red chili pepper, roughly chopped (seeds included)
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, peeled and chopped
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tbsp coriander stalks, chopped
  • 4 tbsp groundnut/peanut oil
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 1/2 cans coconut milk
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 8 pieces baby corn
  • 1 red pepper, de-seeded and chopped
  • 4 large mushrooms, chopped
  • large bunch of kale or spinach, washed and torn
  • optional: 4 organic chicken breasts, chopped; 2 cups firm organic tofu, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • juice of 1 lime
  1. First, make the curry paste. Toast the cumin seeds for a minute or two in a frying pan over high heat. Then combine them with the chili pepper, lime zest, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and coriander stalks in a food processor. Whiz for a couple of minutes, then drizzle in the oil until a smooth paste consistency is reached.
  2. Transfer the paste to a large skillet or saucepan and turn the heat on medium-high. Add the shallots and carrots and cook, stirring often, for 5-6 minutes. (If also including chicken or tofu, cook them in a separate skillet at this point and transfer to the curry at the same time as the kale).
  3. Pour in the coconut milk and add the remaining vegetables (except the kale or spinach). Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until everything is warmed through and softly coated with the coconut curry mixture.
  4. Add the kale/spinach at the last minute, stirring through. Serve over a bed of brown rice or brown rice noodles. Squeeze the lime juice on top and sprinkle over the cilantro leaves.