Our best vegan curry recipe with fresh baby corn, baby carrots and shallots makes a vegan dish that’s so delicious even non-vegans will love it. It’s a rich gently-spiced, coconut-cream based Southeast Asian vegan curry that can be made as either a vegan Thai yellow curry or a vegan Cambodian curry.
My best vegan curry recipe makes a delicious Southeast Asian style vegan curry with baby corn, baby carrots and shallots that is so good that even non-vegans will love it too. It’s not only an easy vegan curry recipe to make – although it will give your arms a good work-out if you’re not used to using a mortar and pestle – it’s also a very versatile recipe.
Our best vegan curry recipe can be made as a vegan Thai yellow curry or a vegan Cambodian curry depending on the paste you make – or buy. This is a rich and creamy curry, however, if you’re counting calories, you can lighten it by using coconut milk instead of coconut cream.
You can bump up the heat by adding more chilli to the paste or curry – or leave the chillies out if you like spice but not heat. You could swap out the vegetables for whatever veggies are in season – or in your fridge. Vegetarians could even garnish the curry with a couple of halved soft-boiled eggs. I’ll tell you more about our best vegan curry recipe below.
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Best Vegan Curry Recipe With Baby Corn and Baby Carrots That Even Non-Vegans Will Love
My best vegan curry recipe with crunchy baby carrots, baby carrots, shallots, and whole garlic makes a vegan dish that’s so delicious even non-vegans will love it – which should indicate that I am not a vegan. I am what Alice Zaslavsky, author of the vegetable-driven cookbook In Praise of Veg, would called “vegetable-forward”.
I adore vegetables, I love to eat them as much as possible, and I can easily eat vegetables on their own, but I also enjoy dairy, seafood, poultry and pork in moderation, but wherever possible buy from markets and use organic, ethical, sustainable produce. So why the vegan curry recipe you may be wondering?
It was requests from readers asking if we had vegan versions of some of our recipes that motivated me to develop my best vegan curry recipe – along with a curry that Terence made which was so sublime I can’t recall what protein was in it. All I remember is how amazing the baby corn and baby carrots tasted in that creamy coconut cream-based Thai yellow curry, which is the inspiration for this dish.
Another confession: I have not liked most vegan food I’ve tried. I’ve found it bland and always wondered why vegan dishes weren’t more vegetable-driven when organic veggies are just so damn good on their own, and why the dishes didn’t have the richness, flavour and colour of non-vegan food. Admittedly I haven’t eaten at restaurants such as vegan queen Shannon Martinez’ Smith & Daughters in Melbourne which will be high on my list when we can travel again.
So that was the motivation for this vegetable-forward food writer to develop the best vegan curry recipe she possibly could, which you should enjoy if you adore rich Southeast Asian curries from Cambodia and Thailand redolent of spice and perfumed with fresh fragrant herbs. If you make it, I’d love to know what you think.
Tips to Making Our Best Vegan Curry Recipe
Part of what makes my best vegan curry recipe so incredibly delicious are the roasted vegetables. I use fresh organic vegetables that are full of flavour and roasting them with plenty of sea salt brings out their natural sweetness.
While you don’t have to use this combination of vegetables, I really love them for their flavour and the way they work together, as much as their colour. If you have leftovers, the baby corn, after it has spent a night in the fridge immersed in the curry, tastes even better the next day. If you don’t want to roast the vegetables you could stir-fry or grill them to give them a nice smokiness.
Whatever you do, don’t put the vegetables into the coconut-based curry raw as you’ll then have to cook the curry for much longer and your coconut cream will probably split. We actually like split curries, where the cream and oil separates, here in Southeast Asia. However, I’m to understand from research that vegans and vegetarians don’t. Perhaps because that oil slick is perceived as unhealthy? I have no idea. Please let me know if you do!
When we can, we use fresh coconut cream or coconut milk here in Cambodia, which we can buy from the market where it’s made from coconuts that are split open and grated and then the coconut cream (the first press) and coconut milk (second press) are extracted on the spot.
You can also make coconut cream and coconut milk yourself if you have time (we’ll show you how to do that soon in a separate post), but if you don’t, you can use tinned coconut cream or canned coconut milk, which you should be able to get from most supermarkets, Asian grocery stores or online. Use coconut cream if you want a really rich creamy curry or coconut milk if you’re counting calories or simply prefer a lighter curry.
The other part of what makes this the best vegan curry recipe is the fresh homemade curry paste itself, obviously, however, this is the most time-consuming part of preparing our best vegan curry recipe. If you’re still up for cooking projects, do make your own paste. You can refrigerate or freeze what you don’t use. In the fridge, it will keep for a few days in an air-tight container. In the freezer, in a zip-lock bag it will last for months.
If you’re over lockdown cooking projects – don’t worry, we get it – you will find fresh curry pastes at the markets in Thailand and Cambodia. Outside these countries, you’ll have to use a commercial product. Although I personally find it a tad salty, the Mae Ploy Yellow Curry Paste is probably your best bet and is widely available, online and in supermarkets.
From the list of ingredients on the label – shallot, lemongrass, salt, dried red chilli, galangal, turmeric powder, curry powder, coriander seeds, kaffir lime peel, cumin, and cinnamon – it’s probably the closest of the commercial pastes in terms of flavour profile (despite the curry powder, coriander seeds, cumin, and cinnamon) and, unless there are hidden ingredients, it looks to be vegan.
Note that if you’re using a commercial curry paste, you’ll need to put the curry paste in a wok and fry it until the fragrance fills your kitchen. This is to wake up the flavours. Then slowly add the coconut cream or milk and stir as recommended below. If you also find it a little too salty, add a teaspoon of palm sugar – or brown or raw sugar if that’s what you have to hand. Thais and Cambodians will often add sugar to their curries to provide balance to a dish with sour, spicy and salty elements. Note that you don’t need to fry a freshly pounded paste when it’s best to heat the coconut cream or milk first.
If you’re making the Cambodian curry paste, use this yellow kroeung recipe. For the Thai curry paste, the instructions are below. While we recommend pounding the paste in a mortar and pestle, it does take time and it can be tiring on the arms if you’re not used to pounding pastes with a mortar and pestle, so use a blender if you prefer. If you’ve not used a mortar and pestle before, we have paste-pounding tips here.
If you compare the Cambodian and Thai curry paste ingredients, they are very similar and there are historical reasons for this. The main difference is that the Thai curry paste is spicier and normally includes shrimp paste, which I’ve omitted in our best vegan curry recipe – for obvious reasons. If you can find vegan ‘fish’ sauce, you can try this instead for a more authentic flavor.
This should feed 2 people if you’re serving it as a main course with steamed rice, fresh rice noodles or boiled dried vermicelli. If will feed 4-6 if you’re serving it as one dish amongst an array of dishes for a sharing family-style meal.
Best Vegan Curry Recipe
- 2 tbsp neutral cooking oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 8 baby carrots
- 8 baby corn
- 8 whole purple shallots
- 8 garlic cloves peeled
- 400 ml coconut cream or coconut milk
- 2 kaffir lime leaves julienned
Thai Curry Paste
- four large dried whole red chillies
- 2 purple shallots peeled and finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 1 lemongrass stalk sliced finely
- 1 tbsp fresh galangal peeled and finely chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh turmeric peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tsp kaffir lime zest
- 2 small fresh red birds-eye chillies or milder fresh red chillies to your taste
- 1 tbsp vegan ‘fish’ sauce optional
- 1 bunch fresh basil and/or coriander (cilantro)
- Pre-heat oven to 180°C (360°F), grease the pan with cooking oil, and roast the baby carrots, baby corn, whole purple shallots, and whole garlic cloves in an oven pan, ensuring they’re seasoned with plenty of salt. Turn them as necessary and remove when the shallots are brown and almost caramelised.
- While the vegetables are roasting, make the curry paste. For a Cambodian curry use this yellow kroeung recipe. For the Thai curry paste: soak the four whole dried large red chillies in water for 10-15 minutes until soft. Using a mortar and pestle, pound the lemongrass until completely mashed. Add the shallots, garlic, galangal, turmeric, and kaffir lime zest and continue to pound until you have a paste. Drain and slice the large chillies and add those, the birds-eye chillies and the vegan ‘fish’ sauce and continue to pound into a fine paste.
- In a wok or pan, heat the coconut cream or coconut milk on low-medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of curry paste, stir to fully combine – old cooks advise stirring continuously in one direction to prevent curdling – and taste.
- Add more curry paste if needed, adjust as necessary, then add the julienned kaffir lime leaves and roasted vegetables. The second it comes to the boil, turn off the heat and serve.
- Garnish with fresh basil and/or coriander. Serve with steamed rice, fresh rice noodles or boiled dried vermicelli. It will serve 2 as mains or 4 if served as one element of an array of dishes.
Do let us know if you make my best vegan curry recipe either in the comments below or on social media. While I really do thing it’s incredibly delicious, I’d love to know what you think.