Having once eaten mediocre vegetarian massaman curry in a college dining hall, I (librarian) recently felt inspired to concoct my own version of this dish. After scouring our rural town’s minimal grocery stores for months, the recommended massaman curry paste finally appeared on the shelf of the natural food store a few weeks ago. So I looked around the root cellar and the fridge for what vegetables we had to work with. December isn’t the most inspiring time for vegetable eating, but I came up with sweet potatoes, Asian greens, onions, and garlic. I swapped the usual tofu for a can of chickpeas. I also made the rice with my favorite new method: crock-pot-as-rice-cooker. Without further ado, here’s my version of vegetarian soy-free seasonal vegetable massaman curry.
4-6 servings (over rice) – Takes about 1hr20 for me to prepare, so you’ll probably be faster.
1 large sweet potato or 2 medium-sized ones
1 large onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
1/4 lb of Asian greens (Spinach or any other kind of cooking green will do – but Bok Choi, Mizuna, and the like are particularly great in this recipe; the amount of greens is completely flexible)
1 cup white rice (optional)
1 can of chickpeas
1 can of coconut milk (full fat, especially for this recipe)
1/2 can of massaman curry paste (about 2 oz. – see link above for what I used)
1 tablespoon of peanut butter (I like low-fi PB like Teddie but any kind will do)
1 teaspoon of brown sugar (omit if you’re using sweetened PB like Skippy or Jiff)
1/2 teaspoon of dried ground ginger, or chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon of toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
Generous handful of roasted peanuts (some for cooking, some for topping)
A bit of olive oil (for the pan)
A bit of butter or olive oil (for the crockpot rice-making)
1. Grease the bottom and (lower) sides of your crockpot with some butter or oil. Put in 1 cup of uncooked white rice, a pinch of salt, and 2 cups of water. Set your crockpot to high, cover it, and get to work on the rest of the curry. I found that this dinner was timed nearly perfectly with the rice being done.
2. Peel and cube the sweet potatoe(s). Set it/them up to boil for about 15-20 minutes in a saucepan.
3. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, wash and chop the greens. Dry them and set aside.
4. While the sweet potatoes are still cooking, chop the garlic and onion.
5. Once the sweet potato cubes are cooked (easily pierced with a fork, but still holding their shape), drain them and put them into a large bowl.
6. In the saucepan you just emptied, put the following:
- The creamy part of the coconut milk (at the top of the can; just scoop it out with a spoon)
- 1/2 can of massaman curry paste (put the rest of the can into a freezer bag and pop in the freezer to store)
- 1 tablespoon of peanut butter
- Chopped onions
- Chopped garlic
- 1 teaspoon of brown sugar (if you’re using unsweetened/natural PB)
- 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
- A handful roasted peanuts
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
7. Stir it all around and cook over medium-low heat for a few minutes.
8. Once the sauce is combined, add in the rest of the coconut milk. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until the sauce is heated through. Be careful not to let it burn – you may have to turn the heat down and stir quite frequently.
9. Add back the sweet potato chunks and stir until covered in sauce. Now is a great time to test the seasoning – I added a bit more soy sauce and sesame oil. You might want to add a bit more curry paste if you like a spicier curry.
10. Add the chickpeas. Once those are warmed and covered in sauce, check the status of your rice. If it’s not nearly done, I’d recommend shutting off the heat to the curry. Leave it covered while you wait for the rice to be done.
11. Check on the rice after about 1hr – 1hr15. You might want to fluff it up a bit just before it’s finished.
12. When the rice is done, turn the crockpot to warm. Stir the greens into the curry and cook over low heat until the greens are wilted and incorporated with the curry.
13. Serve your delicious curry over rice!