Full confession: I love coconut. I love the taste of dried coconut, fresh coconut flesh, coconut oil, and coconut milk. I don’t often cook with coconut milk because it’s so rich, but when I do it’s usually in a curry of some sort. And it’s delicious. Easy to make and quick. Most health or diet conscious eaters avoid coconut milk because it’s high in saturated fat. But this saturated fat has fiber and makes you feel full. And let’s not forget plant-based (unprocessed) fats are good for us. Good for our skin, good for an ageless look.
Coconut milk is chock full of Vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5, and B6. There’s also iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in this milk. And it has electrolytes, potassium, sodium, magnesium, and chloride, which help to keep the body hydrated and properly functioning.
Make sure you use unsweetened organic coconut milk in a BPA-free can. Native Forest is a good brand. Their coconut milk tastes very fresh. And I prefer the full-fat, regular coconut milk. It gives the texture you want – a silkiness – and a richness that stops me from overeating. Regular coconut milk has lauric acid.
Lauric acid, a fatty acid, converts to a substance called monolaurin in the body. Monolaurin helps boost immunity in fighting viruses and disease. Coconut oil is over 40% lauric acid – the richest source naturally available. Besides, eating the right kinds of fats doesn’t make you fat. A calorie is not a calorie.
This is a South Indian-style vegetable curry, so it’s vegan. But, if you want, you can easily add chicken or shrimp.
I use whatever vegetables I have around. I’ve found the ones that work best in this type of dish are red and yellow bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, onions, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower and mushrooms, or some variation of that! But use what you like best. All of these vegetables taste great in the curry, and they are good for you. Make sure all vegetables are organic. I serve this dish over my one of my favorite grains – forbidden rice. I also use a lot of fresh lime juice in this; I find it balances the sweetness of the ginger, cinnamon, and coconut milk.
Easy South Indian-style Coconut Curry with Vegetables
(serves 6 or 4 with leftovers)
- 2 cups forbidden or black rice (Lotus Foods brand), cooked
- 1 can organic coconut milk (Native Forest brand)
- 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed (Eden Organics brand)
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 1 large stalk of broccoli, stem and florets, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 package organic mushrooms, diced
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, finely diced
- 2-3 tablespoons organic tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, plus more to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, use a teaspoon if more heat is desired
- 1 cinnamon stick or 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon lime zest
- Juice from 2 limes
- 1/2 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
- In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and cook until the onion is richly browned, 5 to 7 minutes more. Add the garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, for 1 minute to blend the flavors. Add the coriander, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne (if you’re not using a cinnamon stick, add the 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon here); stir for 30 seconds to toast the spices.
- Add the broccoli, carrot, pepper, and mushrooms. Saute for a few minutes in the spices. Then add the tamari (soy sauce or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos). Stir in the coconut milk and add the cinnamon stick, if you’re using one. Stir well, cover the pot, and allow to simmer. As it cooks, stir occasionally and adjust seasoning to taste. (Note: I sometimes double the spices for a richer, more flavorful curry so taste and add more of whatever you like best.) Add the chickpeas and stir. When the vegetables are almost cooked, stir in the fresh lime juice and lime zest. About 3-5 minutes later, once the vegetables and chickpeas are tender, remove from heat. Serve over black rice and top with cilantro.
While the recipe above uses some of the spices in a traditional curry powder, I thought I would include a recipe for one, in the event you want to expand your repertoire. Making your own curry powder is cheaper than buying a small bottle of curry powder. All the spices, by the way, are good for your body. Continued research on spices reveals their antioxidant power. “A half-teaspoon of cinnamon has more antioxidants than a serving of raspberries; a half-teaspoon of ground turmeric, more than a serving of broccoli. Ground ginger, curry powder, and paprika are also top antioxidant scorers. All of this translates into big potential healing power. For example, studies link cinnamon with blood sugar regulation, turmeric with cancer prevention, and ginger with reducing inflammation.” (From Ellie Krieger at FineCooking.com) It’s fun to experiment with spices. The curry powder recipe is a template, play around with it, and discover the blend you like best.
Recipe for Curry Powder
- 5 tablespoons ground coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons ground fenugreek seeds
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chile peppers
Combine the ingredients in a bowl. Store in an airtight container. It yields about a 3/4 cup of curry powder.
About the Author: Tania Van Pelt is the creator of Happiness Series. She is a writer and content creator, working in film, tv, and online. She wrote the popular lifestyle book "Ageless Diet," published in late 2015. And she is currently working on her next book. She also developed a sitcom pilot set in the restaurant business called "Employees Only TV" and is developing another web series comedy about Denver.