Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Thai-Style Peanut Curry

My fridge door is home to a couple dozen jars and bottles holding all kinds of strange and smelly sauces. They are key tools in putting together quick dinners like the one I made tonight. Recipe #24 is Vegetable Peanut Curry with Thai flavors.

The not-so-secret ingredient in this curry is Thai Basil. I bought Thai basil this summer at a local nursery. The first time I cooked with it resulted in an aha! moment, as in "aha, that's how the Thai restaurant dishes get that distinct flavor". If you don't have access to it, just skip it in this recipe, or replace with other herbs like scallions, cilantro or mint.

I did not use any particular recipe for this one. It is just my version of rich sweet-spicy-salty-tangy curries that I have enjoyed in Thai restaurants. Here's how I made it; adjust the quantities to match your own flavor preferences.

1. First, the sauce: In a glass bowl, mix
1 cup thick coconut milk (I use Chaokoh brand)
¾ cup natural peanut butter (I used chunky)
1 heaped tbsp. red Thai curry paste (I like Maesri brand)
1 tbsp. tamarind pulp
small lump of palm sugar
1 tbsp. soy sauce

Microwave the sauce in 30 second bursts, stirring, until everything dissolves into a thick sauce.

2. Heat a bit of oil and saute 5-6 cups of diced vegetables. I used onion, broccoli, carrot, peas and spinach today. Add some soy sauce to taste and a little water and let the vegetables cook until barely tender.

3. Add the sauce, simmer for 5-10 minutes, then turn off the heat. Add a large handful of chopped Thai basil.

I served the curry with steamed rice and broiled tofu for a very satisfying winter meal.

*** *** *** Canine Update *** *** ***

Leena, since you asked for an update on Dale, here's a very recent picture-

I took this picture right after he woke up from a long nap, cuddled on his blankie. Dale is never as animated as when he is napping. He has these long and frequent REM episodes when he is woofing, growling and squeaking, all while cycling his legs through the air. Dale awake is an anxious and neurotic beast but Dale asleep is a lion who rules the world. If you have ever seen a dog dreaming, you know how amusing it can be. Except in the middle of the night and the dog's dreams wake you up from YOUR deep sleep, which is every single night in our home...sigh.

P. S. I'm obsessed with making fruitcake once during this 40 recipe marathon. Poor fruitcake has such a sullied reputation in this country but I truly love eating it. Does anyone have a tried and tested recipe that they recommend? Thanks much!


  1. This thai curry with peanut butter looks absolutely delicious! Its amazing how a well stocked pantry can help you put together a tasty and no-effort dinner quickly!

  2. Hello ....Try the fruit cake on I have tried with liquor as well as with fruit juice. Both time it was perfect. If you follow her steps you cannot go wrong. I was a bit scared abt the caramel, but is a very easy process and can be done the previous day.

    Also aayisrecipes has an egg less version. It is also good, but it crumbled and the pieces were not firm. But taste was good.


  3. Finally a Thai curry within my scope! Thank U so much Nupur, for mentioning brands , I always get confused with thai curry paste brands ( I have seen 2-3 , but for a first timer, that is daunting) and shy away from buying and come home disappointed.

    Dale is a king! Muuaaah!

    Good luck with the fruit cake.

  4. Lovely... I have to try this. And soon :) I have everything except the red curry paste.

    I've used the same fruit cake recipe for about 20 years now. It works very well for me. I found it on the label of rex baking powder when I was in class 7.


  5. Love simple meals like these..sounds so flavorful.
    David Lebovitz posted a fruitcake bar recipe a few days ago and it looks really good.

  6. almost have reached half of 40 recipes marathon. :) I like Thai curry...but never tried with peanut butter.
    Why Dale look so serious? Lovely pic. :)

  7. I love quick curries like this. My fridge door always has jars of red and green curry pastes, and the pantry always has a few cans of coconut milk. I've grown Thai basil in my garden for the past few summers. The plant is easy to grow and prolific; one plant keeps me supplied for the entire season.

  8. You are right about the Thai Basil, I am not fond of basil but that was until I discovered Thai basil. The taste they add is special.

  9. ooh- This looks doable!! I would maybe want to skip the peanut butter, though (or maybe not)
    And YOU seem to have read my mind this time- I was craving a plummy fruit cake just yesterday. Can't wait to see what you make.

  10. Nupur,
    Archana (of Spicyana) has the best fruit cake recipe. To be honest, of all the recipes I've tried from blogs, I rank it among the best. It's time-consuming, but SO worth it. I have to warn you though, portion control is very difficult to exercise w/ this cake. I once made this cake and gave the mister 2 slices and ate the rest by myself LOL!

    I'm a big fan of Thai-basil too. I've noticed how just adding it even when other Thai ingredients are missing lends the dish a Thai flavor. Since you didn't follow any specific recipe, I gather this is not one of the 40?


  11. Nupur..........

    Your Thai Style Peanut Curry looks delicious and is making me want to do it right away(btw..i just had a good dinner :)))

    Your 40 receipes project is going great guns with receipes all around the world from authentic maharashtrian bhoplyachi bhaji to Thai style peanut curry.....

    So is Lebonese next on cards?


  12. I love thai curry and often make it too. I love your version of microwaving the sauce. The brand that I use is Thai Kitchen red and green curry bases. Have your tried the curry with Jasmine rice? The fragrant rice goes well with the delicious curry.

  13. I agree with Mamatha that Archana's fruitcake is the best ever! Although my friends have told me that it is more of a cake with soaked fruit than a fruitcake. It's similar to a Goan Christmas cake.

    Alton Brown has a fruitcake recipe that I have been wanting to try ever since I saw it on Good Eats a couple of years ago. His tip: the cake will only be as good as the dried fruit you buy. Avoid all the bright colored candied citron peels and use quality dried fruit instead. You will notice that his recipe has a lot less flour and eggs.

  14. For fruitcake, Alton Browns recipe over on the food network site has always worked for me..


  15. this curry sounds delicious!

  16. I don't own very many store bought pastes..least of all Thai. The basil sounds really good. I was also thinking the last time I made tofu with the peanut butter how coconut milk will do with peanut butter ;-) Now I know..

    Nupur Last year I made fruit cake .. (yum.. love it inspite of the reputation) adapted from Sailu's blog and another place - the one with fruits and caramel. I have it in my blog. Sailu's is great! The best fruit cake I ever made ;-)

  17. PJ- That is so true, my pantry comes to the rescue time and again; it is totally worth it taking the time to stock up!

    Shreya- Thanks for your input.

    Manasi- Thai curry is dead easy to make; give it a try. Thanks for the youtube link, yes that dog was dreaming very vigorously but poor thing knocked into the wall :(

    Raaga- The red curry paste can be made at home; you'll find many great recipes online. Your fruit cake looks great!

    Bharti- Ooh, I'll have to look at David Lebovitz's recipe. I like his cherry chocolate fruitcake; tried that last year.

    Sonia- Yes, I feel like I have been doing this recipe marathon for months already ;)

    Lydia- So true, my Thai basil plant is growing quite well in my kitchen window, I wonder if it will stop growing now that it is cold by the windowsill.

    indosungod- I love regular basil too, but yes, Thai basil has an incredible and unique taste!

    Lavanya- Unless you really hate peanut butter for some reason, please don't skip it! It really makes the dish, try it, I promise :D

    Mamatha- Oh my that recipe does look very good! Oh, yes, this curry is #24, I'm counting all the new recipes I post :)

    Rujuta- Lebanese (or middle-Eastern anyway) was covered in the Ful medames recipe already.

    Namita- I love Jasmine rice, but at one point, I decided that I can't cope with a dozen different varieties of rice in my tiny pantry and made an executive decision to leave out Jasmine. I just served it with good old Sona Masuri :)

    Manisha- Thank you so much- the Alton Brown recipe looks wonderful and very do-able. That's what I will go with this time!

    prita- I'm glad to see another vote for the Alton Brown recipe.

    cinderelly- It was delicious :) even the leftovers were good.

    Soma- Thanks for your input, I'll definitely have to try Sailu's recipe sometime!

  18. Oops, sorry. Didn't notice the number 24 in the post. My bad.


  19. Hey Dale ....

    So there you are Buddy !!! :) You Sure look rested !!
    Enjoyed Cycling in your dreams ??? ;)

    Pssst : Do you get to taste all the yummy food made at home ??? WOW !! Lucky Dude ! :)

    Nupur: You are simply Cute !!!! Thanks for posting Dale's pic - Just for me !!! :)
    Belated Wishes to 'V' ... The Cheesecake looks absolutely divine !

    Hugs to You & Dale,
    ~ Leena

  20. Napur-I love fruit cake here is a recipe I make every year

    if you want a traditional recipe I have a great recipe for dark and fruit that my mum made every year.

  21. Some time back, Baking for Britain, a blog that I used to follow now and then, showcased a recipe for Sri Lankan christmas cake, which if made correctly is a very moist fruitcake:

  22. Alton Brown's recipe on foodnetwork is what I used last year. I substituted some of his ingredients with mine to give it a desi touch. It cam eout very well.I love fruit cakes with tuttie fruttie. Would you know where I can find some? or what I can subsititute with?

  23. I don't have my recipe w/ me, but I did have a good one that was made in mini-cupcake pans. It was a great idea b/c I never want an entire fruit cake & I could put little tiny ones on people's cookie trays.

  24. Mamatha- No big deal!

    Leena- Yes, Dale demands a taste of whatever is cooked in the kitchen, especially if cheese is involved in any way!

    Esme- That looks just lovely! Interesting that the recipe calls for marzipan- I have not tasted that in a while.

    Anonymous- That looks very good, especially with the marzipan icing!

    Sangeetha- Tutti frutti could be found in Indian stores, but I have never looked for it. If I understand correctly, it is mainly candied papaya with food coloring. I loved it as a kid but don't want to eat it any more, I prefer real dried fruits like cherries and raisins and apricots. Those are a great substitute for tutti frutti.

    Deborah- That is such a cute idea! I might try baking a batch in the muffin tin.

  25. Hi Nupur,
    I came across this Christmas fruitcake only yesterday - it seems very interesting with the addition of caramel. Plus it's from the very respected Mrs. K.M.Mathew!
    I can't wait to try it!

  26. Nupur, I have a Christmas Cake on my blog which I have been making for 5 years now. The recipe is atleast 25 years old given by a British friend of mine and its been an absolute hit every Christmas!

  27. thats an awesome recipe...thanks for sharing :)

  28. Oh, that picture of Dale just made my day! Thanks for sharing this!
    I had a fantastic fruit cake recipe that I used for many years, but now that I'm looking for it, it's disappeared. I'll e-mail you if I do find it. In the meantime, here's the link to a recipe from the NY Times.

  29. hi.. first time to your blog and i must confess that im in love with dale.. such a cutie pie he is..

  30. Thank you Nupur for the ideas for the thai curry paste. I made a stir fry noodle and added it to it. Finally I see the bottom of the jar!


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