As a foodie, I often get asked about my favorite foods. While I love a variety of dishes, my faves are Indian and Thai. The warm, piquant spices beckon you to savor the comforting cuisines. Despite the regional variance, Indian food offers numerous options for vegetarians and can be tweaked for vegans too by omitting ghee (clarified butter) and using oil instead. Thai food however presents a bit of a challenge as cooks use fish sauce in many dishes. So I often sate my cravings for Thai food at home.
So what’s my fave Thai dish? Anything with yellow curry. Ah, you just can’t get more comforting yet simultaneously stimulating than curry. Curry isn’t a spice but rather a general term for a plethora of sauces in Indian and Thai recipes. Different regions mix different ingredients and spices together. In Thailand, curry is categorized by color; yellow curry is a sweet, creamy coconut milk sauce. Ahhh, coconut milk (like booze) makes everything better.
This yellow curry recipes comes from Maggie Pleskac, co-author of the cookbook Dueling Plates: A Vegetarian and a Meat Lover Debate the Plate. As I had cooked the vegetarian chef and restaurant owner’s Mushroom Stroganoff with outstanding results, I thought I would see what else she had up her culinary sleeve. An incredibly delectable dish; this curry is one of the tastiest I’ve ever eaten. You can also adapt this recipe for warmer months by using delicate zucchini or yellow squash in lieu of hearty butternut squash.
Before I began the experience of blogging recipes, I just used to toss garlic powder, onion powder, dried ginger and curry powder into my cooking. But no more! I now try to incorporate fresh herbs and spices into recipes whenever possible. Making your own curries from scratch is surprisingly easy, but more importantly delish. There is nothing like using fresh garlic and pungent ginger. The combination of sweet cinnamon, citrusy coriander, earthy cumin and turmeric, along with the heat of cayenne and red pepper, provide a balanced dish with a lot of depth of flavor. The savory aroma fills your entire home. So don’t be afraid to use fresh ingredients and new spices…your palate will be glad you did.
Yellow Curry with Butternut Squash, Chickpeas & Spinach
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 butternut squash, cubed into 1-inch squares (approximately 4 cups)
3 cups basmati or jasmine rice, cooked
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
10 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups yellow onion, minced
2 cups chickpeas, canned & drained
2 cups spinach leaves
1 tablespoon cumin, dried
1 tablespoon ginger, freshly grated
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, dried
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lime
Heat olive oil in a large saute pan on medium-high heat. Add garlic, onions, cumin and salt. Saute until the onions are translucent, approximately 5 minutes.
Add the squash, ginger and red pepper flakes. Continue to cook on medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the coconut milk, chickpeas, coriander, turmeric, cayenne and cinnamon. Cover and simmer until squash is tender, approximately 20 minutes.
Stir in spinach leaves and lime juice, stirring until spinach leaves have wilted. Serve with basmati or jasmine rice.