A bright, flavorful and easy recipe for vegan Thai Curried Chickpeas made with an easy vegan Thai red curry paste. Make the curry paste ahead and refrigerate, then make the curry in under 15 minutes when you have a mind to eat it. Vegan, soy-free, gluten-free and nut-free recipe.
Most of the meal prep I do involves making flavorful sauces, pastes and masalas and freezing them, so I can quickly put together a meal for a weeknight. And having Thai curry pastes in the freezer ensures that I always have a resource on hand to feed my family a delicious, nutritious dinner (like this vegan Massaman Curry), no matter how late it is or how tired I am.
Like these vegan Thai Curried Chickpeas, which need just rice to make a special meal.
I got into making vegan versions of Thai curry pastes long ago. I love Thai food and the curry pastes I used to buy became a no-no when I began to eat plant-based. To make it worse, I couldn't read the labels on half the brands sold at my local Asian grocery store, because they were written in either Thai or another language I couldn't read. Also, it's safe to assume that most store bought versions contain fish sauce (although vegan versions are available now--read labels carefully).
And although a true Thai red curry paste contains some ingredients that you likely don't stock in your pantry on a regular basis, like galangal and lemon grass--I don't--it's easy to make one that's true to the original flavor without these specialty ingredients. In fact, I tend to use common substitutes like limes and ginger--which I do have in my pantry--much more often than I use the real things.
It takes minutes to make a Thai red curry paste, and you get enough to use 3-4 times, so it's definitely an endeavor worth taking on when you have just 10-15 minutes to spare.
The curried chickpeas themselves take, like I said, under 15 minutes to put together. The only thing you really need some time for is to cook the onions until they get brown spots. The rest is a breeze.
How to make the best Thai curried chickpeas
- Your red curry paste needs a handful of aromatic ingredients, including onions, galangal and lemongrass, as well as ingredients that add umami (tamari or soy sauce if you are not gluten-free), spice (red chili peppers and Sriracha sauce) and sweetness (sugar). It's fine to use flavor substitutes like ginger and lime, but don't skip these too, or you'll mess up that perfect balance of flavors that makes this red curry paste so amazing.
- Once you've got your curry paste, you can either refrigerate it for a week or so, or better, freeze it unless you're planning to cook with it several times. Each recipe of curry paste is good for 3-4 uses.
- My recipe asks you to add two heaping tablespoons of the curry paste to the sauce, but play it by ear--and your tastebuds. The curry paste is quite hot, and although it all mellows down nicely in the curry with the lime and the sugar and the coconut milk, you want to start out by adding a tablespoon, taste, then add more if you want it.
- To make the curry, you need to chop onions, tomatoes and garlic, and you're pretty much done. Basil is the herb of choice here, but I know it isn't always easy to find fresh basil in summer. When I make this in winter, and I can't think of a better meal for the cold weather, I just use dry basil which works nicely.
- I use canned chickpeas, but if you like doing things from scratch, cook your own by all means. It makes no difference to the flavor and home-cooked is always better than store-bought.
What do you serve with these Curried Chickpeas?
I serve them with just rice, or with a Thai-style coconut rice that was actually part of this recipe when I first posted it. I will post that recipe separately in coming days.
Serve a fresh salad on the side or, as I did this time, some avocado. It makes a delicious and healthy meal.
Vegan Thai Curried Chickpeas
Vegan Thai Curried Chickpeas
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil (If making this oil-free, use 1 tablespoon of the coconut milk to saute the onions)
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 4-5 cloves garlic (minced or crushed into a paste)
- 2 heaping tbsp Thai red curry paste (use more or less depending on your taste)
- 2 teaspoon tamari (soy sauce is fine too, but if you use it your dish won't be gluten-free)
- 2 tomatoes (finely diced)
- 3 cups chickpeas (cooked or canned)
- Juice of half a lime
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 10 basil leaves (torn, or 1 teaspoon dry basil)
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- Heat the oil in a skillet and add the onions. Saute until golden spots appear.
- Add the garlic and 1 tablespoon of the red curry paste. Stir until the paste has dissolved into the oil.
- Add the chickpeas, tamari, sugar, lime juice and tomatoes. If using dry basil, add it at this time. If the sauce is dry, add half to one cup of water.
- When the curry 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 tablespoon of red curry paste and stir in.
- Check if you need salt. If using fresh basil leaves, add now and turn off the heat.