Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Vegetarian Red Curry with Brown Rice

I have several vegetarian friends and family members.  Often times, I want to make a dish that's vegetarian friendly that can also feed several carnivores as well.  In the past when I've faced this problem, I turn to Asian cuisines.  There are an array of Asian dishes that are classically vegetarian, but since there are so many stews or one-bowl dishes, the addition of meat is very simple.

A few years ago for a party, I made this dish: red coconut curry with an array of vegetables.  Then I cooked some seasoned chicken breasts in a different saute pan, and reserved some of the curry sauce so that people could assemble their plates as they wished: chicken and vegetables or just veggies.  Curry is fantastically simple if you buy pre-made curry paste, but you can certainly make your own.  

Any vegetables or meats could be added, so it's creative as well as easy - and it is very healthy.  That's why I chose to pair this curry with brown rice.  In the past, I've made flatbreads, basmati, lentils, or even saffron rice to pair with a classic curry like this.

Vegetarian Red Curry with Brown Rice

Served 2
Leftover Potential: Reheats very easily.  Provided 1 meal after the initial dinner.

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 bell peppers, sliced
1 1/2 cups mushrooms, sliced
1 1/1 cups green beans, cut in half ***
3-4 Tbsp curry paste, or more as desired
1 can coconut milk, unsweetened
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

chicken breasts, pork loin, etc. can be cooked separately and added as well.

1.  In a large saute pan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until translucent.  Do not let brown.
2.  Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about one minute.
3.  Add the peppers, mushrooms, and green beans.  Stir over the heat for about a minute.
4.  Add the curry paste, stir well.  Add the coconut milk and stir to combine.  
5.  Allow the mixture to come to a simmer.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender, but still slightly crisp.  Season with salt and pepper as desired.
6.  Serve in warm bowls with a scoop of brown rice.

*** Green beans can also be blanched (cooked in boiling water and then chilled to retain green color) prior to cooking if you prefer them to be softer.  
**** Other great vegetables to use are corn, asparagus, sweet potatoes, and various canned products, such as water chestnuts, baby corns, etc.

Brown Rice:
1 tbsp oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup brown rice ***
1 cup vegetable stock

1.  In a small pot, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and saute until aromatic, about 1 minute. 
2.  Add the rice and stir to prevent sticking.  Add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Cover and cook as per instructions.  Different rices cook for different lengths of time.  Brown rice generally takes awhile longer.  When the rice is tender, fluff with a fork and serve with curry.

*** Any rice can be used, I chose brown rice due to the healthy qualities.


  1. I made this tonight. I stir-fried thin slices of pork loin before step 1, set them aside and added them at step 5. Very good. Everyone liked it. It's a far cry from the curry of my childhood, which was usually gravy and leftover turkey with curry powder added.


  2. Just FYI...most Red Curry contains shrimp paste so is not strictly vegetarian. Of course there may not be enough to bother anyone, and it usually isn't listed on the commercial brands, but if you check out a Thai cookbook to make your own it is always there.