One of my favorite foods is Vietnamese curry! My husband is from Vietnam, and my mother-in-law taught me how to cook, so throughout our marriage (up until we became vegan), I cooked exclusively Vietnamese meals. I’m trying to work my way back to that, but when we became vegan, I wasn’t familiar with what kind of flavor combinations to use or how to replace meat protein with other forms of protein without having to use tofu in everything, so now that I’m more familiar with vegan cuisine, I’m working on improving my old Vietnamese recipes to make them vegan. First up: Viet Curry Stew.
Vietnamese curry is different from many other Asian curries in that it is a stew rather than a sauce that covers veggies or meat. Typically it contains chicken, but I have replaced the chicken with chickpeas and a small amount of vegetable broth (to make up for the chicken juice that normally adds to the flavor). That is why I’m calling this “Cà Ri Đậu”–it means bean curry, or curry with beans.
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 14 oz. cans coconut milk
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 2 in. knob ginger, minced
1 shallot, minced
2-3 Korean sweet potatoes (The store I went to was out of Korean potatoes, so I used jewel yams this time–what you see in the photos–and it turned out just as well.), 2 chopped into bite-sized chunks; about 1/2 of a potato cut into thinner 1 inch pieces–This will fall apart while the curry cooks, helping to thicken the stew.
5 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp Madras curry powder (I use a Vietnamese brand, but any madras curry powder would work fine.)
2 Thai chili peppers, minced
1 stalk lemongrass, bruised
vegetarian fish sauce (nước mắm chay), to taste (You can buy this at Asian markets, and I think I saw some at Whole Foods once.)
black pepper, to taste
French bread or rice to serve with the curry stew.
Prep all the veggies, placing the onion, garlic, shallots, and ginger in a small bowl together, and the carrots and potatoes in a medium bowl together.
In a large stock pot on medium heat, drizzle about 1 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil and saute the onion, garlic, shallots, and ginger until the onion sweats. Then, add 1 Tbsp of curry powder to release the fragrance. Mix well, and then add in the chickpeas. Stir around for a few minutes, and then add the vegetable broth.
Add in 1 can of coconut milk plus 1 can of water (using the same can). Stir, and then add 1 more heaping Tbsp of curry powder, 1 more can of coconut milk, and 1 more can of water. Add in the minced Thai chili peppers at this time and stir.
Turn the heat to high, and add in the potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil. While you are waiting for it to boil, bruise the stalk of lemongrass (just place it on a cutting board and use the handle end of a large knife to hit and bruise up and down the stalk), tie it in a knot, and place it in the center of the pot.
Once the stew is boiling, turn the heat down to low or medium-low, put a lid on the pot, and allow to simmer for 45 minutes. About halfway through the time, add in some nước mắm chay to taste. At the end of the 45 minutes, remove the lemongrass, do a taste test, and add in nước mắm chay and black pepper until you like the flavor.
Serve the curry in a bowl with a side of rice or French bread. I prefer eating it with bread because it tastes so good dipped in the curry!
This recipe will make a large pot of curry, and it tastes great reheated (although it’s usually spicier after it’s been the fridge because the flavors have more time to mingle). It will last 3-4 days in the fridge.