On nights when Alex and I are lazy and don’t want to cook – we order thai food. It’s become kind of a routine. I’ll text Alex as I’m leaving work at 7:30pm about how I’m starving and exhausted and don’t know what to make for dinner. If he agrees, I immediately call up our go-to Thai spot and place an order for delivery – fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce, pad see ew with veggies, and panang curry with chicken. We spend over $25 so I also remind them to include our complimentary Thai iced tea. I sign off by telling them that no, we do not need rice for our curry, at which point I have Siri text Alex and he starts the rice cooker so it’ll be ready once our food arrives.
By the time I’m home, in comfy clothes, and have a glass of red wine in my hand, the food has arrived and the TV is cued for whichever show we’re currently watching – making it a perfect evening to end a busy and tiring day at work.
In this way, Thai has become a comforting meal for us. And we love this as our Plan B for when we really can’t get it together to make something at home. BUT it has some serious draw backs. Styrofoam containers being at the top of the list, with cost being a secondary concern.
So for those nights when we want something comforting but we’re not ready to throw in the towel and give in to ordering take out, we have learned how to make our own version of Red Thai Curry at home. It’s not too difficult, it’s probably healthier than the authentic Thai curry, there’s usually leftovers for lunches, and there’s no styrofoam involved. Serve with white or brown rice, quinoa, or your favorite grain!
Red Thai Curry
- 1 eggplant sliced in rounds (Chinese variety is our fave – long, thin, and light purple)
- 1 red bell pepper cut in thin strips
- 1 small head of broccoli cut into medium sized florets
- 1 inch chunk of fresh ginger, minced
- 1 small yellow onion chopped
- 1/2 package extra firm tofu cut in cubes (dried with a towel to get excess moisture out)
- 2 tsp Red curry paste (available in most grocery stores, with other asian cuisine ingredients)
- 1 tsp natural peanut butter
- Optional: 2 tsp fish sauce
- 1 can coconut milk
- approx. 1 cup water
- juice from 1 lime
- 1 tbsp raw sugar or maple syrup
- fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp coconut oil OR vegetable oil
- salt + pep
- Heat a medium or large sized pot over medium heat. Add the coconut oil. Once oil is hot, add the ginger and onion and sautée for a few minutes until fragrant. Be sure the oil is not so hot the ginger and onion burn.
- Add the coconut milk, curry paste, and peanut butter to the pot and whisk it well. Add lime juice, fish sauce if using, sugar, some salt and pepper, and continue stirring. We also add some cayenne pepper for spice!
- Add eggplant and bell pepper. Add in 1/2 cup water to ensure the veggies are completely covered. Let simmer 10-15 minutes, until eggplant is soft but not falling apart.
- During this time, taste the curry (without burning your mouth…) and add whatever it needs. We often end up adding more lime juice or curry paste depending on the size of our veggies and the amount of water we added. It’s an experiment so just taste and add what you think it needs – follow your taste buds!
- Once the eggplant is pretty soft, add the tofu, broccoli, and a sprinkling of fresh basil to the curry. Add more water if needed to cover the veggies – keeping in mind you’ll need to add more seasoning so it’s not bland! Simmer for about 5 min – keeping an eye on the broccoli. We try to cook it just enough so its soft but still bright green.
- Dish up rice or quinoa into your bowl and top it off with a healthy portion of curry. Garnish with fresh basil (I also like cilantro on mine) and a drizzle of sriracha.
Notes: You could definitely make this recipe with chicken if you prefer. We’ve also done it with tofu, sweet potatoes, and kale – not your traditional panang curry veggies but it’s delicious. It’s also great with carrots in it! I highly recommend making enough to have leftovers for lunch – the veggies continue soaking in the delicious coconut curry and taste even more flavorful the next day. You’ll make all your coworkers so jealous!
Try it out, switch it up, and make it your own 🙂