Monday, March 7, 2011

International Curry-Off: Roasted Root Vegetable Thai Curry

It's a curry-off! I love all curry. Red, green, yellow, potato, pumpkin, Thai, non-Thai...whatever. My love of curry is best explained by my single favorite dish served in a San Francisco restaurant: Traffic Jam Curry from Be My Guest Thai Bistro. If you've never heard of the place, I'm not surprised. I am seriously worried that this place may go out of business soon because it's pretty much empty every time we go there. Sure, it has a stupid name and it does look kind of strange and the emptiness of the huge corner location definitely does give the place a weird vibe, but once you eat the curry, you will overlook all of that, I promise! The Traffic Jam Curry is exactly what it sounds like: THREE curries in one dish! You get a cute little plate with three small bowls, each filled with either red curry, green curry or yellow curry. Vegetarians can choose a combination of tofu, gluten and plain veggie for the three curries. I love them all, but mostly I just love that I can have them all in the same meal. If you live in SF, please help keep Be My Guest in business by visiting them at the corner of 11th and Clement.

Now onto the actual reason for this post. I love to eat curry at restaurants, but in my attempts to be healthy, save money etc. etc. I of course try to make my own healthy versions from time to time. None have ever turned out badly exactly (coconut milk + anything = delicious) but none have ever been able to replicate the deliciousness of restaurant curries. I decided this week to try two brand new and unusual sounding curries from my new favorite cookbook (have I mentioned my new favorite cookbook enough lately?) to widen my curry repertoire and to see which one is better. It's a curry-off!!

Up tonight: Roasted Root Vegetable Thai Curry.

What? Roasted root vegetables in curry? Now this I would never ever have thought of. My curry staples usually include a variety of things along the lines of red bell peppers, onions, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, tofu... you get the picture. Root vegetables of any kind, much less roasted, seemed like an odd idea for a curry, but I gave it a whirl anyway. I'm just telling you now: Tomorrow's curry better watch out because this curry just blew my mind with delicious awesomeness. Here's a list of all the ingredients:

1 lb. rutabagas, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
1 lb. parsnips, peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
1 lb. brussels sprouts, trimmed and cut in half
1 tsp. canola oil
3 Tbsp. green curry paste (Thai Kitchen)
1 red onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1 cup carrots, cut into large-ish chunks
1 cup sweet potato, peeled and cut into small-ish chunks
3 cups vegetable broth
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 Tbsp. cornstarch
3/4 cup light coconut milk
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. agave nectar
1 cup fresh
cilantro, chopped

First roast the vegetables. Can you believe how many incredible delicious veggies are packed into this dish? Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Toss the rutabagas, parsnips and brussels sprouts with 1 tsp. canola oil and lay them on a sprayed baking sheet (or two) in a single layer. Yes, they only need 1 tsp. of oil. Roast the veggies for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and tender. Remove them from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, make your curry. Preheat a large pot, then add the curry paste and onions with a pinch of salt. Stir constantly so that the curry paste doesn't stick too much. After a couple minutes, add a splash of water and the garlic and ginger. Saute another couple minutes, then add the broth, soy sauce, sweet potato and carrot. Cover the pan and bring it to a boil. Cook for about 20 minutes until the sweet potato is soft and mushy but the carrot is not quite mushy. Once you reach this point, take a fort and try to mash as many of the sweet potato cubes as you can. This will thicken up the broth a little. Mix the cornstarch with a little water or broth and add it to the pot while still simmering. Stir until the sauce begins to thicken, then add the coconut milk, lime juice, agave and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in all the roasted veggies and the cilantro last and tada, you are done!

I know the ingredient list is intimidating, but trust me making the actual dish is not hard at all. It doesn't even take long. This ends up as 4 large hearty servings of delicious goodness. I would never ever think of parsnips, rutabagas or brussels sprouts in a curry, but that's exactly what makes me like this so much. It's so unique that I've never tasted anything like it, and I doubt I will - which means I have to make it myself :)

P.S. The night I made this dish, I shopped at Trader Joes for various items including brussels sprouts. They happened to be out, but instead had this bizarre mix of brussels sprouts, snap peas and asparagus they called "roasting vegetables." I bought it because I was desperate, which is why you see peas and asparagus in my photos. It was fine, but not as good as it would have been with just brussels sprouts. And, FYI Trader Joe's: brussels sprouts, peas and asparagus do not take the same amount of time to cook and therefore should not be sold as a mix. Thanks.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving = 1/4 recipe. 230 calories; 4.4 g fat (2.5 sat); 0 mg cholesterol; 620 mg sodium; 46 g carbohydrate; 11 g fiber; 21 g sugars; 5 g protein; 184 % vitamin A; 145 % vitamin C; 12% calcium; 11 % iron.

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