Vegetarian Curry Laksa

Curry Laksa - veganised!

Curry Laksa – veganised!

The craving was irrepressible.
But with the man travelling and child snubbing this divine curry noodles, I stalled the idea of dishing it up just for me. But then, it arose again… that insatiable appetite for one heavenly bowl of noodles, veggies, broth, herbs and tofu. I had to make it. Just had to.

Soul Food!

Soul Food!

Curry Laksa is a Chinese inspired Malay spicy noodle soup. Originally made the non vegetarian way with a lot of chicken or fish or shrimp. It is basically coconut based curry spiced with oriental flavours like turmeric, soy and chilies, thick or thin noodles and garnished with laksa leaves or curry leaves. Indians will totally relate to the flavours and taste, because many of the ingredients used in this are regularly used in Indian cooking too.

 Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Mushrooms and fried tofu in my Laksa

Ideally thick Hokkien egg noodles are preferred to dunk in a spicy vegetable laden stew, but if you cannot get your hands on some, use the regular variety. I used traditional thin hakka noodles. Some recipes call for thin rice vermicelli too.
Bottomline – It’s the curry that calls, the carb can be of any kind 😉

Spicy Earthy noodles

Spicy Earthy noodles

There are many different types of laksa, but what is common to all is the broth, spice paste and noodles. The most well known varieties of laksa are the slightly sour fish soup based Assam Laksa and the Curry Laksa which has coconut milk.

Curry Laksa is a meal in itself. You don’t need any accompaniments with it. Lot of vegetables, noodles and a protein like tofu or paneer and you are so good to go! The vegetables can be anything you like, anything your refrigerator caters. So don’t go hunting for the specifics. I just pretty much threw in whatever I had.

An interesting twist to this dish was to top with sautéed mushrooms and red onions. Dust it off with sesame seeds and it was the most heavenly first bite I have had in a very long time 🙂

Soupy Slurrpyy

Soupy Slurrpyy

The Recipe –

Ingredients

  • 1 pack hokkein egg noodles, boiled as per instructions on the pack.
  • 1 cup thin sliced vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, beans etc
  • 3-4 tbsp red curry paste or as per your liking
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 stalks lemon grass
  • a handful of curry leaves or if you can find laksa leaves
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder

Garnish: 5/6 basil leaves, few stalks of coriander leaves, 1/2 cup fried tofu or sautéed paneer pieces, 1/2 cup sautéed mushrooms and red onions. 2 tsp toasted sesame seeds, Lime wedges.

Method

In a wok, heat oil. Fry the red curry paste till the raw smells disappears. Now throw in the veggies, add a bit of salt. Cover and cook till almost done.
Add soy, turmeric, salt pepper, sugar. give a mix. Stir in the coconut milk. Once it has boiled. Stir in the vegetable stock. Simmer for 2/3 minutes or so. Throw in the curry leaves and lemon grass stalks Cover and boil for 5 minutes.

Delicious comfort food

Delicious comfort food

How to Serve:

Remove the lemon grass stalks from the broth before serving.

Take a deep bowl. Place a forkful or two of noodles. Pour the vegetable-coconut broth. Top with some sautéed mushrooms and onions, some fried tofu or paneer. A sprinkle of sesame seeds. A drizzle of lime juice. Torn basil and coriander leaves to garnish.
Serve.

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

A drizzle of lime and a sprinkle of sesame

Note: For sautéing the mushrooms, onions and tofu. I sliced them thinly, gently sautéed in a bit of oil. Sprinkled salt and pepper powder. Hardly takes 5 minutes.

Note: Laksa is usually soupy and the noodles float in a water like broth. Now to make the soup, vegetable stock is preferred rather than plain water. Since I did not have any, I made a thick vegetable stew in coconut milk. It tasted more intense and enveloped my noodles well in a spicy tangy gravy.

all season food, this is.

all season food, this is.

The above is a not a perfect authentic recipe. I changed and customised it according to our likes and the ingredients available. So this recipe might just serve as a rough inspiration to cook the dish. So feel free to play around!

Happy Cooking dear readers 🙂

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Thai Red Curry with Basil and Mushrooms

The monsoons are in full swing this year. Sparing no one from its fury. The thunderous roar, the relentless rain, the flashes of lightning all add more magic to this uber cool city of dreams. I love rains.

The rains makes me dream, makes me romantic, makes me stand in my balcony for longer than usual, makes me stare out of the window more times than necessary, makes me watch the sky, makes me put my hand out in the falling rain, makes me drink at least 3-4 cups of hot masala chai a day, makes me crave for something spicy and deep fried…sigh!

Serene in Sound

Serene in Sound

Overcast Skies

Overcast Skies

Wet Weekend ahead

Wet Weekend ahead

The rain, along with the niceties, also makes me dry the laundry using a hair dryer – sometimes, makes me broom the excessive water from our balcony like.. several times, makes me fight unwanted flies, makes me yell to leave dirty, muddy shoes outside, makes me squirm coz my entire house and my entire being is moist and sticky. Oh! I could go on about the monsoons.
But, now is not the time, a hot spicy amazing curry awaits its turn.

Coming your way – Mushroom Basil Thai red curry. Oh! just remembering those incredible spices makes my mouth water. This coconut based curry, flavored with lemon grass and basil is on my most fav lists. Yea, you read it right.. I have LISTS(many) of my favorite things in the world… What do I say? I am easy to please.

Thai red curry with brown rice

Thai red curry with brown rice

I had a box full of mushrooms in the refrigerator and some divine basil desperately waiting to be picked up.
So here is some mushroom basil magic with my camera:

Mushroom Basil - Magic in the monsoons

Mushroom Basil – Magic in the monsoons

Like said before, I am in love with Basil. My fav herb. See? Another favorite. The husband has to disagree with me, law of nature. He doesn’t care much for the gorgeous aromatic herb. But, I use it generously in my bowl and for others, just a slightest addition to the right plate brings a unique taste like no other.

Aromatic Basil

Aromatic Basil

Fiery red curry, with strong aromatic components is to die for. The flavors all complex and jumbled is a treat to eat on a rainy day. Complementing traditional thai jasmine rice or noodles, it serves as an excellent stew. You can add any assortment of vegetables and cheese(read: cottage or tofu). If you have red curry paste already made in your freezer, then its a matter of 15 minutes to dish up this delightful complex composition.

Fiery red chilies flavored in coconut gravy

Fiery red chilies flavored in coconut gravy

There is a lot going on with Thai cuisine. They add a host of different varied components, all coming together harmoniously for a fabulous finish. They use strong aromatic individual flavors of kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass, galangal, thai lemon basil which are not easily available else where. Most Thai dishes use fish sauce and shrimp paste, even in their vegetarian dishes.

But here I have an Indianised version of the famous red curry, made with local easily available ingredients but the taste as close to the original. This vegetarian red curry has grounded red chilies and spices, along with aromatic herbs, tossed in with assorted veggies in a milky coconut gravy, garnished with loads of fresh greens like basil.

Veggie assortment simmered in a fiery coconut curry

Veggie assortment simmered in a fiery coconut curry

Without much ado, lets start:

Ingredients

  • 5-7 tbsp Red Curry Paste or according to your level of heat
  • 1 cup of button mushrooms, diced
  • 1/2 cup assorted diced and parboiled veggies like carrot, cauliflower etc
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup diced bell peppers
  • 1.5 – 2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp cornflour , mixed in water
  • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
  • 15 basil leaves, chopped/torn
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt to taste

Method

Mix the cornflour and coconut milk.
Heat oil in a pot, throw in onions, bell peppers. Once almost done, add mushrooms. After about a minute of sauteing, add the red curry paste and fry for a few minutes.
Add the coconut milk, salt, soya sauce, basil leaves(save some for garnishing) and all the vegetables. Simmer till veggies are nicely done. The consistency of the curry is usually not very thin to not thick at all. So, depending on your like, thicken it with cornflour or leave it little runny.
Serve hot with steamed rice or noodles.

I made brown rice, which tasted excellent with this hot saucy curry.

Rice and curry on a beautiful rainy day.

Rice and curry on a beautiful rainy day.

We like our food hot n spicy. So I added a generous amount of red curry paste. Needless to say, we were left with runny noses, but still enjoyed every mouthful.

Like it hot?! Add more curry paste.

Like it hot?! Add more curry paste.

Hot tip: You can add any vegetable or meat of your choice. Try some paneer or tofu, its the most heavenly combo of screaming red curry and cool placid paneer. Yumm! I didn’t have any today, else it would be the first thing to go into this lovely curry.

Killer Combo

Killer Combo

The red paste was made by my dear friend Sonal. We have an undefined agreement between the two of us. When ever any of us makes the paste, we send over some to the other. Sonal adds just the right amount of lemongrass and red chilies in the grounded compound, making it perfect for me to use. Hence, I rarely make it now, and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s toil… yay! Lucky me. Jokes apart, Thank you dear friend. And yep, keep making those fabulous Thai dinners and keep the treats coming.

Complex flavors

Complex flavors