One night back in 2004, a friend took me to a Thai restaurant on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood called Toi Thai. I remember I was reluctant to go at first simply because I had never had Thai food before, but she swore to me that I would absolutely love it, just so long as I took her lead on what to order.
Well, that girl certainly knew what she was doing because that night she introduced me to one of my now all-time favorite dishes: Coconut Curry Vegetables! Honestly, the aroma of this glorious bowl of deliciousness alone makes me weak in the knees. To me, coconut and curry is one of the best food combos on the planet. However, if you really want to take it up a notch, pair it with some ultra hearty and slightly sweet Forbidden Rice, just as we did in that Thai restaurant that night. Legend has it this ancient grain, which is also referred to as ‘longevity rice,’ was reserved for the emperors of China back in the day. Hence, the name “Forbidden” rice!
So now, I’d love to share a recipe for my version of this dish, which was designed for the busy home cook who wants a flavor-blasting, soul-satisfying coconut curry dish in only 30 minutes. Here goes:
1. First, thoroughly rinse the rice.
Then, add it to a pot along with the water and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes. When done, fluff with a fork.
2. Next, get all of the ingredients for the coconut curry vegetables all chopped, measured and ready to go, as this recipe moves pretty quickly and there’s no time to measure or chop once you get going. This arrangement is called your “mise en place” in the culinary world! FYI – all of the spices and seasonings can go in the same pinch bowl.
3. In a separate medium/large pot, heat the water over medium-high heat for about 1 minute. Then, add the chopped onion and garlic and stir for an additional minute.
4. Next, add the cauliflower and carrots and stir for 4 – 5 minutes.
5. Then, add the spices and stir for 30 seconds to a minute just until the vegetables are evenly coated with spices.
6. Now, pour in the coconut milk, 3/4 cup water, maple syrup, bay leaves and stir until combined. Allow this mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes. By now, your kitchen should be filled with the glorious smells of curry, cooking rice and coconut. YUM.
7. After those 10 minutes, add the garbanzo beans, frozen peas and lime zest. Stir and allow to simmer an additional 5 minutes. Pull out the two bay leaves before serving.
8. That’s it! Simply fill bowls with desired amounts of Forbidden Rice…
Then top with heaping ladles of coconut curry vegetables.
Toppings to consider are chopped fresh parsley, chopped cashews and/or raisins. All go splendidly!
Curious to know if it’s any good? Well, just ask my two boys:
I hope you LOVE this dish as much as we do!
Coconut Curry Vegetable Stew with Forbidden Rice
Makes about 6 servings
2 cups dry (uncooked) Forbidden Rice or other black rice
3 1/4 cups Water
1/4 tsp. Salt
Coconut Curry Vegetable Stew
4 T. Water
1 cup White Onion, chopped
2 T. (about 4 cloves) fresh Garlic, minced
2 1/2 – 3 cups Cauliflower Florets, chopped into bite-sized pieces*
1 cup Baby Carrots, sliced*
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
2 T. Curry Powder
1 1/2 tsp. Ground Ginger
Pinch of Cayenne for mild heat, 1/8 tsp. for spicier
2 cans (15 oz) Coconut Milk (not the “light” kind), shaken well before opening
3/4 cup Water
1/2 cup Frozen Peas
1 can (approx. 15 oz) Garbanzo Beans
2 T. Maple Syrup (use only 1 T. if you prefer less sweet)
2 tsp. Lime Zest (approx. zest from one medium lime)
Chopped Fresh Parsley for garnish, (optional)
* Not a fan of cauliflower or carrots? No prob! Use broccoli, snap peas, chopped asparagus, cubed butternut squash and/or chopped red bell pepper instead! This recipe is super flexible when it comes to the veggies used.