I looovee Asian cooking. Whether it’s Indian, Thai, Chinese, you name it! They’ve really mastered full-flavor dishes that wow people across the world. When I began cooking my meals at home, I was fascinated by the flavor profile in most Asian dishes and was determined to replicate the same great taste you get in restaurants at home. And the best thing I’ve found with Asian cooking is how inherently healthy the traditional dishes are. In fact, a majority of dishes use no dairy at all but instead use flavorful oils, coconut milk, and coconut cream incorporated in their dishes.
This Masala Curry Sauce is perfect to eat by itself but can also be used for a ton of different dishes. Add some cubed chicken to slow cook in the finished sauce (can be done in a pot or even in a crockpot), or add a light rice such as basmati for a flavorful rice dish (think paella meets curry). I personally can’t eat rice (darn you allergies) so I actually mix this in with chickpea pasta for some good protein. This dish is very versatile so have fun with it!
To start, add heat the oil over medium heat then add the tomato sauce and reduce. The sauce should produce some bubbles and stick to the sides of the pan as it is reducing but the medium heat should prevent a rolling boil or any burning, so adjust the heat if needed. The important thing is to keep stirring the entire time!
Once the tomato sauce has reduced to be more like a runny paste, add the seasonings and remaining tomato sauce while also reducing the heat to low. This dish’s spice list is quite impressive. The turmeric, for example, has amazing medicinal properties and is a natural anti-inflammatory compound as well as a strong antioxidant. Also, eating turmeric along with black pepper actually helps your body absorb the nutrients from the turmeric due to “piperine” – a natural absorption enhancement. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, the fat from the coconut milk (soon to be added) will also aid in absorption since the anti-inflammatory compound “curcumin” found in turmeric is fat soluble. Gotta love them herbs!
After you’ve drooled over the spice concoction and admired its natural medicinal benefits, add the coconut cream from the can of coconut milk. Be careful not to shake the can prior to this or you will need to wait for everything to settle again before adding the cream. When the can has been sitting the cream or meat of the coconut rises to the top of the can and the water stays below it. Using a spoon, carefully scoop out the cream of the coconut milk and add it to the pot. After you’ve mixed everything together for roughly a minute, set aside in a separate bowl. But! Leave behind some of the sauce since it will become your “oil” for the veggies.
Next, add the veggies and cook until the veggies are soft and you can see through the onions, adding a squeeze of lime a few minutes into the cooking process. The cool thing about lime, or really any citrus fruit, is that when heated it starts to caramelize the sugars, providing something that’s sweet while also being an acid. Slowly start to add more of the sauce you set aside to the dish until eventually, it all reduces to be paste-like. After you’ve created your paste, add in 1/2 cup of light coconut milk and taste test! If you need more sweet, add more of the clove and cinnamon. If you need more bright acid, for example, if the dish feels too heavy, then add some more lime (I even recommend adding fresh lime juice on top when you serve it).
Top it off with some cashews and cilantro and you’ve got yourself a delicious, healthy meal.
Bada Bing Bada Boom, Masala Curry! Enjoy (:
Savory Indian Masala Curry
Prep: 10 mins. Cooking time: 40 mins.
- 1 cup tomato sauce/puree
- 1 can coconut milk
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1/3 cup diced bell pepper
- 1/4 cup diced yellow onion
- 1/4 cup diced red onion
- 1/4 cup diced carrot
- 1/4 cup chopped cashews
- salt + pepper + dried red pepper flakes (to taste)
- 1/3 tsp cumin
- 1/3 tsp garlic powder
- 1/3 tsp coriander
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- pinch cinnamon
- pinch clove
- cilantro and cashews for garnish
- Dice the red onion, yellow onion, carrot, cashews, and bell pepper. The diced bell pepper should fill 1/3 cup. The red onion, yellow onion, carrot, and cashews should each fill 1/4 cup.
- Heat 1 tsp oil over medium heat. Once hot, add 3/4 cup tomato sauce and red pepper (to taste). Reduce (about 10 mins) adding a squeeze of lemon juice (roughly 1 tbsp) about 2 minutes into the cooking process.
- Add the seasonings and mix thoroughly with the reduced tomato sauce.
- Turn heat to low and add remaining 1/4 cup tomato sauce. Also add the coconut cream from the can of coconut milk (scoop out the coconut cream with a spoon, leaving behind the water). Stir on low heat for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Leave behind the excess sauce instead of scooping it into the bowl – this will become your oil base for the veggies.
- Add the veggies and turn heat up to medium-low. Add a squeeze of half a lime (roughly 1-2 tbsp) about 5 minutes into the cooking process. Cook for 15 minutes or until veggies are soft and onions are translucent. Add a tbsp of reserved sauce as needed for your “oil”.
- Once the veggies are cooked, add the chopped cashews and slowly add the sauce a little at a time, adding more sauce only when the current mixture has reduced to be paste-like (if you feel the dish is too dry you can always add more oil).
- After all of the sauce has been added and reduced, reduce the heat to low and add 1/2 cup of light coconut milk. This is where you taste test! See notes above for taste test notes.
*NOTE: due to my ginger allergy I never use ginger in any recipes BUT I highly recommend adding some if you can have it. The general rule of thumb is to balance ginger and garlic within the recipe.
Bada Bing Bada Boom, Masala Curry Sauce!