Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Christmas Curry

This Christmas Curry is PACKED with vegetables and vegan protein, with a light coconut broth made with homemade curry paste infusing every single ingredient! I managed to toss in eggplant, kale, snow peas, onion, and two types of sweet potato, and topped it off with some home-grown Thai basil!

One of the best things about being able to go back to work is that my school is near a few international supermarkets. Even though I definitely did not grow up with the flavours of India, Japan, the Caribbean or Thailand (except for a few "world days" at school) I definitely developed a love for their cuisines, and others, when I lived in our nation's capital. Mom also had the chance to travel the world with work about that time, so when it comes time for me to cook for her I usually know where I'm headed!

Like I've mentioned a million times before, the main curry we make at home is Thai based - filled with fresh flavours from vegetables and light but filling tofu, it is something that it suitable year round. I had a few batches of curry paste hanging around my freezer from the summer (and last year too, apparently!) so I knew it was time to get back into the game and clear some freezer space. In terms of vegetables, I got a ton of inspiration wandering the shops near work. Mom loves sweet potatoes in curry, so I grabbed a couple varieties to play with, and a pack of Chinese eggplant as well which I love for their silky quality when cooked (and minimal seeds). Tofu is something we always have on hand, so it wasn't even a question, as were the addition of some of the garden's peas, chilies, kale and bell peppers. The final touch was the Thai basil I was growing on the windowsill, which I was excited to finally have a use for! 

Of course, even the best laid plans don't always work out seamlessly. I thought I had a can of coconut milk hanging out in the pantry, but apparently it had disappeared sometime in the past! However, I did have a couple bricks of creamed coconut - essentially coconut butter from pureed coconut meat - so a half block added the touch of creaminess to offset the spice of my homemade curry paste. The other half was used too - don't worry, you'll see it on the blog soon! 

While the prep work and initial cooking of this curry takes some time, the great thing is it makes a lot - so you have some for dinner and you can freeze the leftovers without issue. It's a great pinch-hitter when you just don't feel like cooking or when you have unexpected vegetarian guests for dinner. Like all these curries, add vegetables or change them up to suit your taste. Regular potatoes, jicama or cauliflower would work instead of the sweet potatoes, use green beans instead of snow peas, spinach instead of kale... you get the drift. I always say the more veggies the better! Likewise, if you don't enjoy tofu (though it soaks up the curry flavour beautifully), saute up some chunks of chicken and toss them in with the kale to warm through. The miso adds a delicate richness to the flavour and stands in for the traditional shrimp paste or fish sauce, but if you are not vegetarian feel free to add those instead!

Christmas Curry
Serves 12
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 batch curry paste (about 1/2 cup green curry paste if storebought - to taste)  Note - for this vegan curry I swapped miso for the fish sauce in the curry paste, read labels if vegan is important to you!
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tbsp ginger paste
4 sweet potatoes (I used 2 "regular" orange ones and 2 Japanese ones with white flesh), peeled and chopped the same size as the tofu cubes
2 lbs extra-firm tofu, cubed
5 long Chinese eggplants, cubed
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
8 oz snow peas, halved
2 dried Thai chilies, crumbled
1/2 cup water
70g (1/2 pkg) creamed coconut
 2 tbsp yellow miso (or fish sauce / shrimp paste, if not vegan)
1 tsp salt
2 bunches kale, stemmed and chopped
25 Thai basil leaves (optional)
  1. In a large, heavy pot (I used my Staub), melt the coconut oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes, until it is fragrant and beginning to caramelize.
  3. Add the onion, garlic and ginger and cook 5 minutes, until the onion begins to soften.
  4. Add the sweet potatoes and tofu and cook, stirring, 4 minutes. Make sure the tofu and sweet potatoes are coated in the spice mixture.
  5. Add the eggplants, pepper, snow peas, and chilies and cook 1 minute longer, stirring.
  6. Pour in the broth and water and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and add the creamed coconut, miso, honey and salt.
  8. Simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  9. Add the kale and stir through. Cook for 5 minutes, until wilted.
  10. Stir in the Thai basil leaves and serve.

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