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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Thai Red Vegetable Curry
For the paste:
- 5 dried red chillies soaked for at least 15 minutes
- 5 red chillies
- 3 bird eye chillies *see notes
- 1 tbsp yellow bean paste *see notes
- 1 tbsp cumin powder
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 lemongrass *see notes
- 2 shallots
- 1 inch galangal *see notes
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 red bell pepper
For the curry:
- Red curry paste whole amount from above
- 1 stick lemongrass
- 2 kaffir lime leaves – bashed
- 400 g firm tofu – drained, pressed and cubed
- 800 ml coconut milk
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 100 g baby corn – chopped into thirds
- 100 g sugar snap peas
- 200 g 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.5 dried red chillies, 5 red chillies, 3 bird eye chillies, 1 tbsp yellow bean paste, 1 tbsp cumin powder, 4 cloves garlic, 1 lemongrass, 2 shallots, 1 inch galangal, 3 kaffir lime leaves, 1 red bell pepper
- 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.1 tbsp vegetable oil, Red curry paste
- 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!1 stick lemongrass, 2 kaffir lime leaves, 800 ml coconut milk, 400 g firm tofu
- Chuck in the rest of the coconut milk. Bring to the boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes.800 ml coconut milk
- Pour in the soy sauces, sugar and vegetables.2 tbsp light soy sauce, 2 tbsp dark soy sauce, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 100 g baby corn, 100 g sugar snap peas, 200 g tenderstem broccoli
- 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!