This Thai red vegetable curry is super delicious, takes just 40 minutes to make and will be a winner whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or none of the above! Read on for the best recipe for vegan Thai red curry...
Our Thai red vegetable curry is based on a straight up traditional recipe (taught to us by a badass vegan Thai hero in Chiang Mai), minus the usual fishy stuff.
Thai red vegetable curry
This Thai red vegetable curry is:
A little bit sweet
Thai red curry comes from central Thailand. You’ll often find that traditional recipes vary from region to region and from family to family. That just means there’s loads of variations to choose from, and you can even make the curry your own special way!
We think this recipe is fool-proof. It’s easy to adapt to your taste, and you can scale the recipe up to make more portions than you need. We often make a big batch of this curry because it freezes well, or can be left in the fridge for around 4 days. Plus, we’ve tested this recipe extensively, so we know how rewarding it is once it’s done.
Vegan Thai red curry paste
Vegan Thai red curry paste needs just 11 ingredients. And it can be made in a blender or a pestle and mortar. It’s so much fun to grind pastes by hand – it’s how curry pastes are traditionally made in Thailand. However, we won’t lie to you, it’s a lot more hard work!
We make our vegan Thai red curry paste with white miso or soy bean paste instead of shrimp paste. We add in a red pepper too. It’s not traditional to use a red bell pepper in a Thai curry paste. However, we’ve found through trial and error, that the pepper enriches the colour of the final curry. This means the curry will be super vibrant and enticing.
It’s up to you whether to use a red pepper. We haven’t found that it changes the flavour of the overall outcome, so if you want a vibrant red curry, we’d recommend including it.
Dried red chillies
A note on whole dried red chillies – these are not easy to find in Western supermarkets. They’re available in Asian food stores and can be ordered online too.
In all recipes that use dried chillies, it’s always recommended to de-seed the chillies before rehydrating them for cooking.
I’ve researched this extensively and have found no negative impacts of using the seeds.
However, if you don’t like spicy food, just remove them. The seeds are the hottest part of a chilli! The easiest way of doing this is chopping one end off the chilli and just emptying the seeds out, like tipping a tube upside down. They should just come out easily, because the chilli is dried.
When rehydrating the dried chillies, pop them in a bowl and submerge them in warm water. 15 minutes is generally enough time but you can leave them for hours or overnight if you need to.
Which is hotter red or green curry?
In our guide to Thai vegan food, we mention that Thai green curry is actually the spiciest of all Thai curries. It’s a common misconception that red curry is actually the spiciest.
So, if you don’t like your curries too spicy, you’re in luck! If you like spicy food, then just add a few extra chillies – we’re not judging anyone. And we want to make sure you can adapt our recipes to suit your taste.
When Dan and I first met, I used to love extremely spicy food and he liked a more mild flavour. However, in the last couple of years, we’ve switched places! These days, Dan likes spicier food than me. I still like spicy food, but not as hot as I used to like it. Isn’t it true that taste buds change every seven years, or is that an old wives’ tale?
Is Thai red vegetable curry healthy?
This vegan Thai red curry recipe alls for a whole load of veggies. We don’t need to be nutritionists to know that loads of vegetables in a meal is super healthy.
The only thing to be aware of with Thai curries is the coconut milk – it contains saturated fat. As with all things, to achieve a healthy diet, it’s about having everything in moderation. Having coconut milk a couple of times a week as part of a healthy balanced diet is perfectly fine in our opinion.
We do often use light coconut milk to make sure we’re not having too much saturated fat. Whether you choose standard or light is up to you. The light coconut milk isn’t as rich, but the overall result will still be delicious.
If you’d like to try even more vegan Thai recipes, check out our guide to cooking vegan Thai food.
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This Thai red vegetable curry is super quick to make, delicious and spicy. It’s easily adaptable if you don’t like your curry too spicy – just use fewer chillies (check the recipe notes below), you can also adapt the sweetness and saltiness to your taste too. Hope you love it!
For the paste:
- 5 dried red chillies (soaked for at least 15 minutes)
- 5 red chillies
- 3 bird eye chillies*
- 1 tbsp yellow bean paste*
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 stick lemongrass*
- 2 shallots
- 1 inch piece galangal*
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 red bell pepper
For the curry:
- Red curry paste (whole amount)
- 1 stick lemongrass
- 2 kaffir lime leaves - bashed
- 400g firm tofu - drained, pressed and cubed
- 2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar*
- 100g baby corn - chopped into thirds
- 100g sugar snap peas
- 200g tenderstem broccoli
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil (optional)
- Put all of the red curry paste ingredients in a blender or a pestle and mortar. Grind by hand or blitz until smooth. If using a blender you may need to add about 1-2 tablespoons of water to loosen the paste up a bit.
- Heat a wok over a medium-high heat, pour in the oil (if using) and then add in all of the paste. As long as your wok is non-stick you won’t need any oil.
- Stir the paste and then add in a couple of tablespoons of coconut milk, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and the tofu.
- Continue stirring for a few minutes. Your kitchen should be smelling fragrant by this point!
- Chuck in the rest of the coconut milk.
- Bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes.
- Pour in the soy sauces, sugar and vegetables.
- Simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Taste, and add in more sugar if you’d like it sweeter (and less spicy) or more light soy sauce if you’d like it saltier. The vegetables should be tender but not soft by this point.
- Remove from heat, then take out the kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass.
- Serve with Jasmine rice and enjoy!
* if you don’t want the curry to be too spicy, omit the bird eye chillies
* if you can’t find fresh galangal you can use ginger instead, or buy this galangal in a jar. Use 2 teaspoons in the curry paste.
* if you can’t find fresh lemongrass, you can buy that in a jar too. Use 2 teaspoons in both the paste and the curry sauce.
* It’s traditional to use palm sugar in Thai cooking, but brown sugar is more readily available in the west. You could also use coconut sugar or white sugar.
* if you don’t want to make the paste at home, you can use this Thai Taste red curry paste instead. It’s super tasty and accidentally vegan.
* Yellow bean paste is a fermented soy bean paste, that adds an umami flavour. If you don't have any, use white miso paste.
- Category: Dinner
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Thai
Keywords: Vegan Thai red curry, Thai red vegetable curry, Thai curry