A simple mix of spices is the secret weapon for this incredible easy Coconut Curry that’s made in just 30 minutes. The sauce is utterly addictive, and pairs beautifully with vegetables, legumes and proteins.
I’ve used pumpkin and lentils here, but see the recipe for the “formula” to use it for what you please!
EASY COCONUT CURRY THAT’S HIGHLY VERSATILE
If you’ve ever dumped curry powder into liquid then stomped your foot in a huff when you found the sauce to be meh, then this easy Coconut Curry sauce is for you!
You’re going to absolutely love that you can find all the spices at supermarkets.
You’re going to adore the beautiful coconut flavour that mingles with the spices.
You’ll go bonkers over how it tastes like a mild coconut Indian curry – except you made it in 30 minutes from scratch.
And you’re going to really enjoy lapping up all the compliments from your family and friends. (“OMG that’s the best curry I’ve ever had!!” <– True story, text from a friend)
THE CURRY SPICES
Curry powder is the base for this Easy Coconut Curry, but it’s just not enough on it’s own. At least, not for my palette.
I tried to cut out a couple of spices to simplify it (the paprika and cumin). Then just the paprika. But it just wasn’t the same.
So they’re all staying in. 🙂
The only one that you may not be familiar with is garam masala. Here in Australia, you’ll find it at all the major supermarkets nowadays, and it costs no more than other spices. It’s a crucial spice mix in Indian cooking and smells like a potent curry powder. It really makes a difference in simple curry sauces, so be sure not to skip it!
THE SAUCE BASE
There’s nothing tricky about the sauce. It starts with the usual sautéing of onion, garlic and ginger (fresh please!), after which the Spices are cooked for a minute.
This really brings out the flavour of the spices, makes them bloom.
I use 3 liquids in this Easy Coconut Curry. Coconut milk (full fat please, low fat is too thin and lacks flavour), tomato passata (tomato puree in the States) which is smooth and thick so it helps thicken the sauce (crushed tomato is also ok), plus chicken or vegetable broth for flavour.
Give it a mix, and there you have your curry sauce. And this is where you can unleash your wild side and let the creative juices flow.
Or, as the case may be, rummage in your pantry and squabble around in the fridge and use whatever you can find. 🙂
UNLEASHING YOUR WILD SIDE
This is where things get fun.
You can literally put anything in this Easy Coconut Curry Sauce and it’s going to taste great.
I’ve used lentils and pumpkin here, stirred through baby spinach at the end and a handful of cashews (my friends go bonkers over this combo).
Use any beans you want – chickpeas are an obvious choice, but any beans will taste great. There aren’t many veggies I wouldn’t use in this (maybe fennel and beetroot), and it would be brilliant with fish, prawns/shrimp, poultry, beef and lamb.
I’ve included a guide in the recipe notes for when to add different ingredients. For proteins, it’s well worth searing them before starting the recipe, then just add them back in later once the sauce is done.
Just imagine the possibilities…..!!!!
30 minutes. That’s how far away you are from a homemade-from-scratch Coconut Curry.
The flavour is not quite as in-your-face punchy like with Chicken Tikka Masala. But then again, you haven’t had to marinate overnight and you’ve used half the spices. In fact, I intentionally dialled back the spices in this recipe to let the coconut flavour come through.
But no one could ever say this is lacking in taste. No one has ever accused me of making bland food – and I intend to keep it that way!! – Nagi x
Spiciness: Low, as long as your Curry Powder and Garam Masala are not spicy. Recipe video below.
This 30 minute recipe is all about the sauce. A mild coconut curry with a beautiful depth of flavour that belies how quick and easy it is. Tastes like an Indian curry, but not as intense, nor spicy. It's utterly addictive. I really love lentils and pumpkin with this creamy sauce, but feel free to use whatever you want, including proteins - see notes.
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves , minced
- 2 tsp fresh ginger , finely grated
- 1/2 onion , finely chopped (brown or yellow)
- 400g/14oz can coconut milk (full fat)
- 1 cup/ 250 ml chicken broth
- 1/2 cup / 125 ml tomato passata (tomato puree) (Note 1)
- 400 g/14 oz can brown lentils , drained
- 250 g / 8 oz pumpkin (~3 cups) , cut into 2cm / 4/5" cubes
- 80 g / 2 cups (packed) baby spinach
- 1/2 cup cashews , unsalted (roasted or raw) (Note 2)
- 1/2 tsp each salt + pepper
- 1 tbsp garam masala (Note 3)
- 2 tbsp curry powder (mild or spicy, your choice) (Note 4)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander powder
- 1 tsp paprika (sweet, or hot for spice!)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- Coriander/cilantro leaves, whole or chopped
- Chopped cashews (optional)
Heat oil in a deep skillet or pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and ginger, cook for 2 minutes until onion is a bit tinged with gold.
Add Spices and stir for 1 minute - don't worry if it looks a bit dried out.
Add coconut milk, passata and broth. Stir until incorporated.
Add lentils and pumpkin. Bring to simmer then adjust heat so it's simmering energetically.
Simmer for 10 minutes or until pumpkin is tender but not mushy, and sauce has thickened.
Stir through baby spinach until wilted, then cashew nuts.
Add salt and pepper last, adjusting to taste.
Serve over rice, sprinkled with coriander and extra cashews, if using.
1. Crushed canned tomato can also be used here but doesn't yield the same smooth sauce. Use 3/4 cup.
2. Roughly chopped macadamia or pistachios would be a great sub. Otherwise, leave the cashews out and sprinkle generously with store bought fried shallots or onions (Asian section of supermarket), these are a great alternative for providing texture and added interest into the curry.
3. Garam Masala is a spice mix that is found in major supermarkets in Australia (Woolies, Coles etc) that is commonly used in Indian cooking. It smells like curry powder and is not spicy, if you buy it from standard supermarkets. If you get it from a speciality store, check the spiciness before using - you may wish to dial it back a bit.
4. I use Cloves of India (sold at supermarkets, spice section), mild or spicy. Any curry powder will be fine here because it's not intended to be a full blown authentic Indian curry.
5. The Formula: This recipe is all about the curry sauce, so feel free to use it for whatever you want to put in it. It makes about 3 1/2 cups of sauce which is enough for about 4 - 5 packed cups of "stuff".
Examples: 500g/1 lb chicken cut into bite size pieces (~2 1/2 cups) + 2 1/2 cups of chopped veggies of choice. Or 500g / 1 lb prawns / shrimp + 2 cups chopped sweet potato. Or 5 cups of veggies, chopped into bite size pieces. Or 1 can of beans (~2 cups) plus 3 cups of chopped veggies. Etc etc. 🙂
Stir throughs like spinach which wilts down to nothing is a freebie that doesn't count in the cups allowance, and similarly with a small amount of nuts.
Proteins (chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, fish and prawns/shrimp especially great) - brown first then remove (still raw inside ok), then proceed with recipe. Add it back in to finish cooking through / reheat. For beef and lamb, be sure to use a nice marbled cut and don't overcook, keep it juicy inside. You could also stir through shredded or chopped precooked meat.
Vegetables, add them into the sauce based on the cook time. The sauce needs 10 minutes to reduce / flavours to develop.
Legumes (beans) - whether canned or cooked dried beans, add them in as soon as the sauce is mixed and simmer for the full time so they soak up some flavour.
Dried lentils (2/3 dried = 1 can drained) - use 2/3 cup dried and simmer in 3 cups of lightly salted water for 20 minutes or until tender but still firm (not mushy). Drain and use per recipe.
6. Nutrition per serving, assuming 5 servings. It's a pretty generous amount! Excludes rice. It could almost be a meal in itself.
WATCH HOW TO MAKE IT
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