There are two pantry staples that I try to never be without: canned coconut milk and canned chickpeas. With just these two humble ingredients on hand, you’re halfway to a delicious and easy to make curry, any night of the week! Just add some aromatics, whatever veggies you happen to have on hand — I like to mix it up each time depending on what’s in season — and you’ll be sitting down to a belly-comforting meal before anyone can say “what should we order tonight?!”
This verdant, spring-y version is loaded with spring garlic, shallots, asparagus, broccoli, spinach ginger, turmeric, and fresh curry leaves. I also added a Japanese sweet potato, so didn’t even need to make a grain to go alongside since the starch was already built-in, so to speak. Sugar-snap peas or green beans are great in this, too, and I love to add fresh-off-the-cob corn kernels when sweet corn is in season. Sometimes when I have leftover roast chicken or salmon I’ll shred or flake it into bite-sized pieces and add that for the last couple minutes to heat through.
This curry has become one of my favorite feel-good meals: creamy, satisfying and flavorful but not too rich or heavy, it’s also packed with green goodness, immune-boosting spices, and healthy complex carbohydrates. And an added bonus — any leftovers reheat beautifully for dinner the next night, and also pack up easily for a work or school lunch.
If you’re ever in an Asian or Indian specialty shop and see fresh curry leaves in the refrigerated section — get them! They freeze beautifully, so you can grab a few leaves at a time and throw them into your recipes as needed. I simply freeze them right in the bag they come in.
Curry leaves are wonderfully fragrant and add a more nuanced and complex flavor to Indian-style curries, soups, and sauces. I buy mine downtown at Dual Spices, which is a super fun little herb/spice/tea shop to check out if you happen to find yourself in the East Village with some time to kill.
Weeknight Coconut Chickpea Curry with Spring Vegetables
Note: I blanch the broccoli and asparagus before adding to the curry at the very end, so they retain their bright green hue and crisp texture. If you’re pressed for time and don’t feel like boiling a separate pot of water for blanching, simply add these vegetables to the pot for the final 5 minutes of cooking and cover the pot until they are crisp-tender.
2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 stalk of spring garlic, thinly sliced (white and green portions)
1-1/2 tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground cayenne
1 can coconut milk
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 small sweet potato, cubed (I used a white-fleshed, red-skinned Japanese sweet potato)
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp minced fresh turmeric (or 1/4 tsp dried)
4-5 fresh curry leaves (optional)
1 bay leaf
1 cup broccoli florets
6 asparagus spears, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
2 cups baby spinach
1 tablespoon coconut aminos
juice of 1 lime
garnishes: fresh mint or cilantro, gomasio or toasted sesame seeds, lime wedges
cooked grain of your choice, if desired
Heat coconut oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add shallots and spring garlic and saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry powder and cayenne and cook for 1 minute more.
Add coconut milk, chickpeas, sweet potato, ginger, turmeric, curry leaves, bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper to the pot. Swish 1/2 cup of water in the coconut milk can and add that to the pot as well.
Bring to a boil, turn heat to low and simmer, partially covered, until sweet potato is tender when pierced with a knife, about 20 minutes.
While curry mixture simmers, bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a saucepan. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Blanch broccoli and asparagus for 30 seconds, drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
Add broccoli and asparagus to simmering curry, cooking for about 1 minute to heat through. Turn off heat and stir in spinach (you just want it to wilt), coconut aminos and lime juice. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
Ladle curry into bowls alongside grain of your choice (if using) and garnish with herbs, gomasio/sesame seeds and lime wedges right before serving.