This one-pot Coconut Curry is one of the easiest curry recipes I make, and it's also one of my favorites. You need just over 20 minutes to put it together, and you can tweak it to your taste with the veggies you have on hand (although this version with onions, potatoes and tomatoes can't be beat). A vegan, soy-free, gluten-free and nut-free recipe.
This creamy, silky, savory Coconut Curry is one of my favorite Indian style dishes. I call it an "Indian style" dish because it's not based on any traditional dish. Rather, it's something I came up when looking for a tasty partner for my Carrot Rice, although it goes just as beautifully with plain basmati rice.
Both the coconut curry and the carrot rice are savory but not spicy, which makes them perfect to serve to anyone who can't tolerate heat but still likes a tasty meal. The coconut curry sauce, especially, has layers of flavor from the cumin, the onions, the tomatoes, the ginger, a dash of cayenne, and the coconut milk that ties it all together into a creamy melange.
There are just a handful of ingredients in this coconut curry, and if you have potatoes and onions on hand, you are pretty much set.
- Coconut oil: This is the best choice for this coconut curry and adds more coconutty flavor!
- Cumin seeds: The earthiness of cumin is magnificent with coconut.
- Onions: Onions form a nice base to thicken the coconut curry.
- Tomatoes: Tomatoes and coconut are a match made in flavor heaven.
- Potatoes: Potatoes enhance the creaminess of this curry and are a nice treat to bite into.
- Turmeric: For beautiful color and healthfulness.
- Cayenne (or any red pepper powder). This adds a gorgeous but subtle hint of spice.
- Coconut milk: Use canned, full-fat coconut milk for best results. Light coconut milk will give an acceptable result but simply won't be as creamy and delicious.
- Curry powder. This is nice if you want some added complexity in the curry. Use one teaspoon, taste, and add another teaspoon if you want a stronger flavor.
- Lemon juice or lime juice: For a fresh tang that plays nicely with the coconut milk, add a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or lime juice after turning off the stove.
- Veggies: You can add quick-cooking veggies like sweet potatoes, snow peas, frozen green peas, cauliflower and broccoli to the coconut curry. Cut all veggies into bite-sized pieces and steam them, except frozen peas, to tenderness before adding to the curry.
Expert tips for making coconut curry
One of the secrets to making this creamy and easy curry in a hurry is to prep as you go. And because that's the way most of us cook these days, it should be a breeze. But here are some tips on how to make this process go by faster than ever:
- The only thing in this vegan coconut curry that needs some time to cook is the potatoes. So before you do anything else, put the potatoes to boil. You can even do this ahead of time, or do it in a microwave, which should take no more than 10 minutes if you're boiling whole potatoes, or five minutes if you dice them first.
- You can use coconut oil in this recipe, to keep the coconut theme running throughout, or you can use vegetable oil, which is fine because you are getting tons of coconut flavor anyway from the coconut milk.
- You can use canned tomatoes in this recipe, although fresh tomatoes would give you the best flavor and texture. If using canned, use diced canned tomatoes, although these won't break down as smoothly as fresh tomatoes would.
- Anytime you cook with coconut milk, it's really important not let the coconut oil come to a boil, which can cause it to separate. In recipes like this one, where I like adding some coconut milk early on so the veggies absorb the flavor, I reserve half the coconut milk and add that at the end to bring back the creaminess. From that point on just heat the curry on a simmer until it has warmed through.
- My favorite veggie to add to this coconut curry are potatoes, but if you want to tailor this recipe to what you have on hand, you can certainly swap out the potatoes for sweet potatoes or zucchini or bell peppers. Or add 'em all in, for more color, health and deliciousness!
- Carrot Rice is my favorite dish to pair with this curry. But you can also serve it with an easy, 15-minute Jeera Rice (Cumin Rice) or a Turmeric Pilaf.
- Pour the curry over rice noodles for an exotic meal, or serve it with freshly steamed basmati rice.
- You can even serve this curry by itself, warm or chilled, as a coconut curry soup.
- Refrigerate: Store the coconut curry in the fridge for up to three days. Warm through before serving.
- Freeze: Store leftovers in a freezer-safe container for up to three months. Keep in mind that the coconut milk will not be as creamy after it's frozen but the curry will still taste great.
More delicious coconut recipes
Coconut Curry Recipe
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium yellow onion (thinly sliced)
- 3 medium tomatoes (finely chopped)
- ½ to 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- 2 medium potatoes (boiled and diced)
- 14 oz coconut milk (canned or freshly made are both fine)
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoon cilantro (or scallions, for garnish)
- Heat the oil. Add cumin seeds and as they start to darken, add the onions and a pinch of salt. Saute for a couple of minutes until the onions start to soften.
- Add the tomatoes, cayenne and turmeric and continue to saute for a few more minutes until the onions are soft and pulpy.
- Add the potatoes along with half the coconut milk, stir, and bring the curry to a boil. Let the curry cook another minute for the flavors to meld, then turn the heat to low and add the remaining coconut milk. Check for salt. If the curry is too thick for your liking, you can add some water or vegetable stock to thin it out. Turn off the heat as soon as the curry has warmed through but before it returns to a boil.
- Garnish, if you like, with cilantro. I love this curry with the carrot rice and a garnish of scallions.