fresh, bold flavors, simple ingredients. this Thai red curry with chickpeas & coconut-sesame greens highlights the complex flavors of Thailand in one quick, easy & healthy dish!
if i had to describe Thailand in one word, if would have to be vibrant. from the culture, to the people, to the place, to the plate, there is a positive energy and overall sense of well-being, and when it comes to fast, fresh & healthy meals, Thai food simply can't be beat.
two years ago we spent a few weeks in Thailand, exploring Pattaya, Bangkok & some of the surrounding areas. we rode elephants, held baby tigers, visited temples and lounged on the beach. and we ate. and ate, and ate. we visited markets, street stalls and took cooking classes, learning the basic elements of traditional Thai meals. Thailand is a food destination, and we took full advantage of it.
if there is one thing to take away from Thai cooking, it is that it is surprisingly simple. minimal ingredients, cooked quickly, beautifully presented and with impossibly complex, spicy & perfectly balanced flavors. rice or noodles on the side. that's it - nothing fancy.
this Thai red curry with chickpeas is definitely simple to prepare, and definitely tasty. perfect for a quick weeknight meal. i should say that chickpeas are typically not used in Thai cooking, but the flavors of the red curry and coconut compliment them surprisingly well. any other protein can easily take their place - chicken, shrimp or tofu are the most traditional.
when it comes to veggies, pretty much anything goes. traditionally, hard squashes (kabocha), greens, green beans, mushrooms, tomatoes & Thai eggplant are used. in this recipe, onion mingles with the spices and curry paste, providing a foundation for the peppers, zucchini, carrots, broccoli & cauliflower. coconut-sesame greens (on the side) bring a freshness to the dish, tying it all together. this entire meal is done in the time it takes for the rice to cook. on a busy night, that just can't be beat.
use this recipe as a jumping off point to exploring Thai culture through it's food. explore the flavors and tastes that make up this cuisine - complex and bright, but so simple. in a word: vibrant.
recipe: thai red curry with chickpeas and coconut-sesame greens
serves: 2 generous bowls
- 1 can coconut milk (NOT coconut cream)
- 3 - 4 Tbsp thai red curry paste
- 1 1/2 tsp coconut oil, divided (1 tsp & 1/2 tsp)
- 1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tsp liquid aminos (or tamari/soy sauce)
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- a few pinches salt, dried ginger, thyme, tumeric, cinnamon - about 1/8tsp each, or to taste
- 5 c baby spinach
- 2 heads medium or 3 small bok choy
- 1/2 medium onion, cut into large chunks
- 1/2 bell pepper - not green - cut into large chunks
- 1 carrot, pealed and cut into chunks on the diagonal
- 1 small zucchini, thickly sliced
- 1 c broccoli florets
- 1 c cauliflower florets
- 1/3 c cooked chickpeas (we use canned)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon or lime juice
- 2 tbsp chopped peanuts - to serve
- 1 tbsp finely sliced scallion - to serve
- 1 1/2 c cooked jasmine rice
for the greens
- heat the 1/2 tsp coconut oil and the 1/2 tsp sesame oil in a large skillet over medium heat
- when hot, add the spinach and bok choy, stir & cover
- cook the greens until they are beginning to wilt and have reduced in size by about 1/3
- add the liquid aminos
- stir, cover & cook another 1 - 2 minutes more. remove from heat and set aside
for the curry
- heat 1 tsp coconut oil in a large skillet over low heat
- add the curry paste, a pinch of salt and the ginger, garlic powder, tumeric, & a small pinch of cinnamon
- stir to coat the spices in the oil. this is releasing the aromas of the spices - known as 'blooming'
- after 1 minute, add the onion and continue to cook for another 1 - 2 minutes, until the onion is beginning to soften. add the coconut milk
- cover and bring to a simmer. when simmering, add the remaining veggies,chickpeas and sugar
- stir to coat in the sauce, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the veggies are crisp-tender.
- at this point you can taste the sauce, and adjust the spices as needed
- add the lemon juice
- remove from heat portion into bowls and top each bowl with the peanuts and scallions
- serve with jasmine rice on the side
s & h