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Thai yellow curry with vegetables and tofu

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

Thai cooking has a few signature curries mainly classified by their color or from the community from which they originate. These are green, red, yellow, massaman and jungle curries. Each very distinct and absolutely delicious. We will get to all these recipes soon on this blog.

The perfect curry is in the balance of spices and herbs that are cooked together into a perfect curry.Traditionally, yellow curry is the mildest and creamiest of the classic Thai curries. This fact lies in the history of this curry, This curry was created during the British naval fleets conquest of Southeast Asia in the 1800's. The curry powder was carried over from India and added to this Thai curry to create what we now call a yellow curry.

In this yellow curry, the flavor (and bright yellow color) is dominated by fresh turmeric, curry powder and lemongrass in perfect balance.

This original recipe is made with potatoes and meat, but I have adapted it to make a vegetarian version. I find the vegetarian version lighter, especially for the hot summer months, and much healthier.The original version of this recipe is here.

I have used a mix of vegetables, but you can adapt this to your needs and add or substitute any of the following vegetables instead, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, beans, eggplant, potatoes, spinach, or anything else.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


For the paste:

6 small Asian shallots or 2 medium regular shallots, unpeeled

1 small heads garlic, unpeeled

1 (3"-piece) galangal, peeled and thinly sliced

1 (2"-piece) ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

1 tsp. coriander seeds

5-8 dried red Thai chiles or chiles de árbol, stemmed and roughly chopped, or to taste

1 tablespoon fresh turmeric, or 2 teaspoons ground turmeric

2 tbsp. mild curry powder

2 tbsp. roughly chopped cilantro root, stems and leaves.

Salt to taste

1 stalks lemongrass, trimmed and thinly sliced

1/4 cup water

For the curry:

3 cups coconut milk

10 small Asian shallots, halved, or 3 medium regular shallots, finely sliced

1 yellow, red, or orange bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup baby corn from a can, rinsed and cut

1/2 cup edamame beans, frozen okay

2 tbsp. grated palm sugar

1 cup yellow curry paste, from above

2-3 bok choy, diced

2-3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced

1 cucumber, cut into thin circles

2-3 tablespoons oil

Salt to taste

Cooked jasmine rice or egg noodles, for serving

To make the paste:

Heat a 12" cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Place shallots and garlic on a piece of foil and fold into a tight package; add to pan. Cook, flipping once, until soft, about 25 minutes. Let cool, then peel and roughly chop; set aside. Place galangal and ginger in a single layer on a piece of foil and fold into a flat package; add to pan. Cook, flipping once, until soft, about 7 minutes; set aside. Heat coriander seeds in pan until seeds begin to pop, 1–2 minutes; let cool slightly. Place in a spice grinder and pulse until finely ground; set aside.

Place chiles in a bowl and cover with 2 cups boiling water; let sit until soft, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp. liquid. Place chiles in a small food processor with shallots, garlic, galangal, ginger, coriander, turmeric, curry powder, cilantro root, , salt, and lemongrass; pulse until roughly chopped. Add reserved liquid; purée until smooth. Set 1 cup aside; refrigerate remaining paste for future use up to 2 weeks, or freeze for longer.

To make the curry:

Heat the oil on a medium flame in a deep pot. Add the shallots and a teaspoon of salt and cook till they are soft and translucent, you do not want to brown them, about 4-5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, corn, and edamame and cook till the peppers are soft and cooked through, an additional 5 minutes.

Add the curry paste and saute till the paste coats all the vegetables and turns aromatic. Add the coconut milk and simmer for an additional 10 minutes stirring occasionally. You never want the curry to boil, the coconut milk may split. Taste and just for salt and spice.

To finish the curry, turn off the heat, stir in the bok choy and basil. Stir well to mix in. Serve with either Jasmine rice or egg noodles and pickled Thai Bird's eye chilies.

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