I love coconut milk, so no complaints. Plus, although it does have a fairly high fat content, the fats in coconut milk are actually good for you, unlike cream or butter or other kinds of fat that usually give foods their richness.
My recipes for today are Thai Curried Chickpeas and Thai Coconut Rice, which are divine either by themselves or with each other.
I chose the chickpeas because for one, I don’t run into too many bean dishes when browsing through Thai recipes, and for another, I’m mad about chickpeas. And although I love coconut rice the way I’ve done it for ages, the South Indian way, this recipe– which is much more pared down– is just as delicious. Some recipes I saw called for the addition of a sweetener like maple syrup or brown sugar to the rice, but I chose not to add those because I love the flavor of the coconut by itself. The addition of coconut oil to the recipe really packs a punch, so try not to skip it.
My recipe for Thai curry paste is very versatile, so feel free to experiment with ingredients that have a similar taste if you can’t find the real thing. For instance, replace the lemon grass with extra lime juice, or use ginger instead of the galangal. Make sure you taste everything as you go along, and you won’t fail!
Here are the recipes. Serve these with a simple but flavorful side like my Mint-Smothered Spuds.
1 1/2 cups long-grain rice like Jasmine or Basmati
1 1/2 cups coconut milk + 1 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp coconut oil
Salt to taste
Heat the oil in a saucepan.
Add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes until the grains start to turn opaque.
Add the coconut milk, water, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, cover tightly with a lid, and simmer until done for 15 minutes. Leave the lid on for at least another 10 minutes after cooking before you handle the rice.
With a fork, gently fluff up and mix the grains with any of the coconut-milk solids that might have separated to the top.
Thai Curried Chickpeas
1 cup dried chickpeas, washed, soaked for a few hours and then cooked until tender (or use 2 cups of canned chickpeas, drained and washed)
2 tbsp red Thai Curry Paste (recipe follows)
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup coconut milk
2 tsp tamari sauce (use regular soy sauce if you can’t find this)
1 medium tomato, diced
Juice of half a lime
1 tbsp sugar
10-15 basil leaves, cut into strips (use cilantro/coriander leaves if you can’t find these)
1 tbsp canola or other vegetable oil
Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions. Stir-fry until they brown.
Add the garlic and 1 tbsp of the red curry paste. Stir until the paste has dissolved into the oil.
Add the chickpeas, tamari/soy sauce, sugar, lime juice and tomatoes. If the mixture is dry, add about 1/2 cup of water.
When it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer another two-three minutes. Add the coconut milk and warm through without bringing to a boil.
Add the remaining 1 tbsp of red curry paste and stir in.
Check if you need salt. Add the basil leaves and turn off the heat.
Thai Red Curry Paste
1/2 onion, diced
3 red chillies
1-inch piece of galangal, sliced thinly (use ginger as a substitute)
1 stalk of lemongrass. Trim off the top and the hard outer leaves and slice finely
1 tbsp lime juice + zest of one lime
1 tbsp Thai hot sauce, like Sriracha
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground black or white pepper
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp sugar
Up to 1/4 cup of canola or other flavorless vegetable oil
Put all the ingredients in the grinder but add just enough oil to keep the blades moving. Add the rest of the oil if needed, to make a fairly smooth paste.
Freeze any remaining paste after use in an airtight container and thaw before using again.
While my other dogs and cats usually cuddle up at night in their own beds, Opie prefers to take over ours. I think he looks like a lion when he yawns