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How to Make Easy Vegan Thai Red Curry

How to Make Easy Vegan Thai Red Curry

When you hear about Thai food, Pad Thai might be the first thing that comes to mind. It’s easy to see why. Pad Thai is simply delicious and irresistible, what with the perfect marriage of sweet, spicy, sour, and salty flavors. 

But Thai food is more than just your go-to Pad Thai. It’s more than that. In fact, we’d like to introduce you to Thai red curry. This recipe can be made a day ahead and will even taste better the next day. And it’s also perfect for vegans, too! 


Thai cuisine essentially has three types of curries: red curry, yellow curry, and green curry. Red curry, which is the highlight of our recipe, is milder than green curry but a bit spicier than yellow curry. 

You can mostly find red curry served in Central Thailand where the base is typically made with coconut milk. It’s packed with a melange of exotic flavors such as fresh lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime, dry roasted cumin, peppercorns, and coriander roots. 


Our easy vegan Thai red curry goes perfectly well with a hot bowl of steaming white rice. Always go for Jasmine rice, which is a type of long grain rice that’s commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking. Jasmine rice has a subtle floral aroma and can be soft and sticky once cooked. 


Using prepared curry paste is ideal if you’re pressed for time. But sometimes, making your red curry paste from scratch is much more suitable (and it will taste better, too) if you’re looking to customize the spice level and substitute vegan-friendly ingredients. To make the Thai red curry paste, you’ll need: 

  • Bird’s eye chilies: Fresh bird’s eye chilies give the curry its signature red color. Bird’s eye chilies are available in most Asian stores. If fresh chilies are hard to find, you can always use the dried ones. To reduce the spice level, you can deseed the chilies by cutting down the sides with scissors and soak them in warm water for around 10 minutes. 

  • Coriander roots or stems: The original recipe calls for using coriander roots. If it’s hard to come by, you can use coriander stems as an alternative. 

  • Lemongrass stalks: You’ll only need the white parts of the lemongrass. To release its flavor, “bruise” the lemongrass stalk by repeatedly pounding it with a knife to make small incisions. 

  • Shallots or red onions: Finely chopped shallots are great for the curry paste. You can also use white or red onion. 

  • Galangal or ginger: Galangal is very prominent in Southeast Asian cooking. You can find them frozen in Asian stores. But if they don’t have it, a great substitute would be ginger. H

  • Kaffir lime zest or Kaffir lime leaves: This is another ingredient that may be challenging to find especially if you’re not from Asia. Some Asian stores sell them dried, fresh, or frozen. But lime zest may also be a good substitute, but just add the green part as adding the white part will make the paste too sour. 

  • Garlic: For flavor.

  • Miso paste: We might be familiar with miso being commonly used in Japanese cooking. But since we’re going vegan, we can’t exactly use the prawn paste that you typically go with curries. 

  • Spice blend: Ideally, we use whole spices for that full, bold flavor. However, if you don’t have whole spices, using ground or powdered spices are fine. The typical spices in a Thai red curry will be black pepper, cumin powder, and coriander powder (or seeds) 


    Using a mortar and pestle is the traditional method of making a Thai red curry paste (or any Southeast Asian paste, for that matter). The slow, methodical grind of mortar and pestle helps all the spices to release their flavors.

    But if you don’t have a mortar and pestle, a food processor is also fine. 

    • Prepare your white and ingredients first. Put your roughly chopped shallots, finely sliced lemongrass, garlic cloves, roughly chopped galangal, lime zest and coriander stems into the food processor. 

    • Blend all the ingredients until the consistency is that of a paste. 

    • Next, add your chillies (you can use 10-15 chillies, depending on how spicy you’d like your paste to be). The mixture will turn red. Make sure that the chillies are well blended.

    • Add your spice blend and miso paste, blending one last time until all the ingredients are incorporated. 

    Store your curry paste in an airtight container. It will last up to 1-2 weeks when kept in the fridge or about two months when kept in the freezer. 


    For the curry: 

    • 1 tbsp. Coconut oil
    • 2 ½ tablespoon red curry paste
    • 400 ml coconut milk
    • 250 ml water
    • 1 tbs. Soy sauce 
    • 1 tsp. Brown sugar *You can also use coconut sugar
    • 5-6 kaffir lime leaves
    • Fresh chopped vegetables *You can use carrots, red pepper, zucchini, or bamboo shots
    • 250 g firm tofu


    1. Heat coconut oil in a Segretto Dutch oven. Add the curry paste. Let it cook for 1-2 minutes on medium heat. 
    2. Add 2 tbsps. Of coconut milk. Keep cooking until it bubbles. 
    3. Lower the heat. Add the rest of the coconut milk, water, soy sauce, brown sugar, lime leaves, and fresh vegetables.
    4. For the tofu, simply cut it into cubes. You can pan fry the tofu first if you want a little bit of crunch.
    5. Cook until the vegetables are done.
    6. Serve with Jasmine rice and enjoy! 

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