While this humble, shortcut-infused Thai curry may lack the nuance of a genuine Thai dish, it still hits the creamy/sweet/sour/salty notes that I crave when I order this at a restaurant. It’s a great “clean the fridge” recipe, since any veggies you have around can be tossed in.
2 large or 3 small sweet potatoes
4-5 cups mixed veggies, cut into big bite-sized pieces
4-5 small tomatoes (roma is good; delicate tomatoes won’t hold up)
1-2 cans coconut milk (regular, not light)
4 cups veggie broth
1/3 cup agave (or preferred sweetener)
5 tsp curry powder (see note)
Salt to taste
1-2 cups rice, prepared per package instructions
Optional: Chicken of the woods, or other white meat substitute
Servings: This makes a big pot of food. It would be a suitable main course for 4-6 people, or will provide great leftovers for two people. It gets better the longer it sits. It will also hold up well in the freezer in pre-portioned servings.
Curry powder: All I had in the cupboard when I first attempted this dish was a generic spice jar labeled “curry powder.” While this universal yellow powder is almost certainly not Thai in origin, it still tasted great in the dish. But if you’re looking to do something more spot-on, most groceries carry Thai curry pastes that you can use instead. (Just take a peek at the ingredient list, since it may contain animal ingredients.)
Rice: I like brown basmati, but you can use whatever you have available. You could also put the curry over something else, like rice noodles, or even grits (rules were made to be broken!).
Chicken of the woods: This dish was originally dreamed up as an ‘excuse’ to eat some of the chicken of the woods mushrooms that we found. Chicken of the woods is a beautiful orange mushroom that has a very chicken-y flavor and texture. We added it here as a stand-in for chicken, but you could easily use tempeh, fried tofu, another meat substitute, or else stick to the veggies.
Peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into large bite-sized cubes. Open a can of coconut milk and scoop out 2 or 3 big spoonfulls of the solid coconut fat into a dutch oven or other big pot. Put the pot on the stove on medium heat and add the potato cubes, stirring occasionally just to prevent burning and sticking, until potatoes start to get tender (5-10 minutes).
(If this is your first time wrangling coconut milk: there is a solid layer of coconut fat at the top of the can. Once you punch through, there is watery liquid underneath. So scoop gently, or you risk accidentally puncturing through the solid layer and giving yourself a coconutty splash in the face.)
While the potatoes are cooking, stir together the remaining coconut milk so that the hard and the watery parts are fairly well mixed together. As long as you’re gentle, you can stir it right in the can. (It doesn’t have to be perfectly homogeneous, just somewhat mixed.) I like the creaminess level of one can, but if you’re on a big creamy kick, you can add a second can of coconut milk (either now or later). Just make sure you stir that together, too, before adding it.
Once the potato starts to get tender, add the mixed veg, the chicken of the woods/meat substitute (optional), the veggie broth, the rest of the coconut milk, the juice of 2.5 limes, the agave, and the curry powder.
Bring the pot to a simmer, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the curry liquid thickens and the veggies are cooked through. Too early = veggies are still crunchy. Too late = veggies are falling apart. If your veggie broth wasn’t very salty, you may want to add salt.
While the curry is simmering, prepare the rice (or whatever else you’re using) per package instructions.
Cut the remaining half of a lime into wedges for garnish.
Chop the tomatoes into large pieces. Once the curry is cooked to the desired consistency, stir in the tomatoes and let them cook just long enough to warm up, but not fall apart.
Once everything is ready, dish up the rice and curry with extra lime slices on the side.