It looks like we've made it! Only a few more days to go and we can officially pop those corks and wave goodbye to what has been a tremendously eventful year for many of us. Regardless of the lightening speed craziness and plenty of ups and downs, for me 2014 will always be the year that I finally turned thirty. When I was a little girl and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I confidently replied: "THIRTY!" because for some mysterious reason I've always had the feeling that I just needed to hang in there until I hit that magic 3-0 and then the fun would really start. I've only just dipped my toe into the thirties but I'm happy to confirm that it looks pretty promising so far and my life seems to accelerate to a kind of warp speed intensity like I couldn't have imagined. So I can't wait to find out what it will have in store for me next year. :)
Meanwhile I've been celebrating this much beloved, festive season with many of my friends and family. And as I was mulling over of which recipe to share with you next, I thought it would be nice to have something light and exotic with rich, beautiful flavours to counter the heaviness of the average holiday fare. And what could fit that description better than a sweet, spicy, light and sultry thai vegetable curry? Wonderfully versatile, this dish is completely adaptable to your tastes, sensitivities, the contents of your fridge and the company you keep. And speaking of company, this recipe turned out to be an all-round crowd pleaser: from rough 'n tough meat-loving bikers to fair foodies with sensitive, sophisticated tastebuds, everyone clamoured for seconds - and thirds even! (The only thing I regretted every time was not making MORE so I had more leftovers to indulge in the day after. ;))
So what gives this particular yellow Thai curry its incredible flavour? Mixed and matched with some other spices and simmered with fresh vegetables and coconut milk these three herbs are the stars of the show: galangal root, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass. I can't tell you how much it is worth your while to go and look for these ingredients in one of the Asian shops or markets you can find nearly everywhere these days. When you're in a pinch you could even substitute ginger for the galangal and lime or lemon zest for the lemongrass and lime leaves and there's a good chance you'll still end up with a pretty tasty curry, but it just won't have that terrific, typical thai flavour.
Yellow Thai Vegetable Curry
- 1 small celeriac (= knolselder, for my Flemish readers ;))
- 1 sweet potato
- 4 regular potatoes
- 1/2 medium butternut squash
- 8 to 10 baby corn, sliced in half lengthwise
- 8 whole water chestnuts, quartered
- 1 cup / 200g bamboo shoots, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, finely sliced in juliennes
- 2 handfuls whole sugar snap peas
- 1 can / 400ml organic coconut milk
- 1.5 to 2 cups vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp unrefined coconut oil
- 1 tbsp chopped thai basil
- a few thai basil leaves for garnish
- ½ tbsp organic coconut sugar
- unrefined, high quality salt as required
- 1 tbsp arrowroot powder + 2 tbsp (cold or room temperature) water
- 300g jasmine rice or rice of your choice, steamed or cooked according to packet instructions.
Yellow Curry Paste:
- 2 tsp coriander seeds or ground coriander
- 2 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin
- 1 tsp ground turmeric (powder)
- 1-2 fresh red chillies, chopped (leave out if you're sensitive to pepper or spicy food!)
- 1 inch galangal root, chopped
- 2 medium fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks of lemon grass, outer leaves discarded and chopped
- zest of 1 lemon or lime (optional)
- 1 small white onion or shallot, chopped
- 2 to 3 medium garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp organic coconut milk
1. Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Toss the evenly cubed celeriac, sweet potato and butternut squash together with 1 tbsp of coconut oil and unrefined salt (don't be shy with the salt here) on a baking tray lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven for 40-60min until tender. Keep an eye on them and toss them around after 30min or so.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the yellow curry paste: add all the ingredients to a food processor (a pestle and mortar works just fine too) and grind into a smooth paste. Set aside.
3. Prepare the rest of your veggies: cube and boil or steam the regular potatoes; wash and slice your baby corn and carrots; Rinse the water chestnuts, sugar snap peas and bamboo shoots.
4. Rinse and cook your rice. Start earlier with this if you're using whole, brown rice which needs to cook for longer. I chose to make some classic, steamed jasmine rice according to Jamie Oliver's fool proof method. Top tip to flavour your rice: add a stalk of lemongrass, a kaffir lime leaf and an inch or more of galangal or fresh ginger to the water you'll be cooking the rice in. It will give it a subtle, fantastic flavour!
5. When your root veggies are ready and out of the oven, it's time make your curry: heat the coconut oil in a pot or large pan. Add the yellow curry paste and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the coconut milk and let your mixture come to a slight boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the sugar snap peas and sliced baby corn and stir well. Add the vegetable stock, coconut sugar and salt and then the bamboo shoots, carrots and water chestnuts. Cover the pan and let simmer for a few minutes until the sugar snap peas are cooked - but still have some 'snap' to them! Add the chopped thai basil and the rest of the veggies: the regular potatoes as well as the oven-roasted root veg, and stir gently until everything is nicely coated in the curry. Taste and season with some more salt if needed. To thicken your curry, mix the arrowroot powder with the water and pour the mixture into the hot curry. Stir well for half a minute. If the curry is still too thin, make some more arrowroot-water mixture and repeat the process until you're happy with the consistency.
6. Serve while hot, along with some beautifully fluffy, steamed jasmine rice and garnish with a few leaves of thai basil.
Bon Appétit ! :)
All my love and very best wishes to you and your loved ones, for a happy, healthy, creative, delicious and fulfilling new year!