With the frigid cold of January in New York setting in, I was grateful for a quick escape back to California last week. On the West Coast I was greeted with a low blanket of grey clouds and plenty of rain. Such dreary conditions outdoors made for the perfect opportunity to cozy up and stay indoors - in the kitchen, to be more specific.
We all have those warm winter memories of family sitting around the table, rain washing against the windows and steam rising off a big bowl of hot, hearty fare. One winter dish that reminds me so much of home, and that instantly puts me in mind of my Mom's cozy kitchen, is this Yellow Curry. I don't think it was ever really meant to be as spicy as a traditional Indian or Southeast Asian curry, but intended to be something more like a mild yet fully flavorful stew. Mom always used to make this with a bouillon cube, chicken broth and chunks of chicken to boot. She and I worked together last week to veganize the recipe (not difficult at all) and to replace bouillon with a homemade curry paste. The result was a perfect cross between her usual stew and the type of curry-with-a-kick that I've come to love.
Mom's Homemade Yellow Curry Paste
Cook time: 30 minutes.
Ingredients for about 4 batches of paste
- 1 stick lemongrass
- 1 inch chunk fresh ginger
- 2 large shallots
- 1 small head of garlic
- 3 dried Thai chili peppers (these are very small! If substituting something bigger/stronger, only use one chili pepper)
- 1 tsp curry powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup packed cilantro
Directions for curry paste:
- Heat oven (or toaster oven!) to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Chop top off of garlic head and remove skin from one shallot. On individual sheets of foil, drizzle garlic head, shallot and ginger with a bit of olive oil. Wrap each item individually and roast for about 20 minutes or until soft. The garlic may take longer than the other two items, just remove the others from the oven and allow garlic to roast for 10 minutes longer.
- Pound lemongrass and chop roughly into 1/2 inch pieces. Cut the remaining shallot in half. Add both to a small pot of boiling water and allow to cook until the majority of the water has boiled off. This should take about 20 minutes.
- While boiling, soak chili peppers in a bowl of hot water. Drain after 20 minutes.
- Add all cooked and other ingredients to a food processor and pulse until desired consistency is reached. It should be like a chunky paste. If you want the paste to be smoother, add some of the cooking water or a tablespoon of coconut oil.
Mom's Homemade Yellow Curry
Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 45 minutes.
Ingredients for about 8 servings:
*Be sure to chop vegetables into thick, large chunks for the best results!
- 1/4 cup Homemade Yellow Curry Paste
- 1 cup chopped red and/or yellow onion
- 3 cups chopped red and/or yellow potatoes
- 3 cups chopped carrots
- 3 cups chopped celery
- 2-3 cups chopped cauliflower
- 2 cups chopped and peeled turnip
- 2 cups chopped butternut squash
- 6 cups vegetable broth (try making your own!) OR 5 cups broth, 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 3 tbsp corn starch
- 1/4 cup cold water
- Add potatoes and a few tablespoons of oil (coconut will give this a great flavor) to a large pot. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Add onions and carrots and continue to cook for 5 more minutes before adding cauliflower, celery, turnip and butternut squash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir occasionally while vegetables cook.
- When potatoes and carrots are soft enough to poke through with a fork, add vegetable broth. If using coconut milk, don't add it just yet. Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
- Dissolve corn starch in cold water then add to curry and stir. The consistency of your curry should thicken up in a minute or so. When it does, add curry paste and stir until smoothly incorporated. If using coconut milk, add now.
- Allow curry to simmer anywhere from 10 - 45 minutes, it shouldn't change too much. Taste and add more curry paste, salt and pepper if too bland.
- Serve steaming hot over a bowl of freshly cooked white rice and enjoy the warm, comforting feeling of home!
What is your (or your family's) favorite comfort food in the Wintertime?