When I told Mum I was making curry for dinner, it’s safe to say she was looking forward to it. Naturally, she wanted to know what kind of curry I was rustling up. “Thai, Massaman curry,” I told her.
As I began delving into more detail about what’s involved and where I learnt the recipe, she stopped me and asked, “what meat are you putting in it?”
“No meat, it’s a veggie curry.”
“Oh, OK.” She replied. “That’ll be lovely.”
My parents are of the generation where meat is eaten at most mealtimes – bacon for breakfast, ham or beef sandwiches for lunch, and a beef or chicken dish for dinner. Don’t get me wrong, they have moved on with the times. They make a vast variety of dishes from all over the world – meat and veggie – to satisfy a balanced, tasty diet. But, the ‘meat and two veg’ mindset (no, not THAT meat) got me thinking. Are we, generally, eating too much meat?
Then I watched the documentary ‘Cowspiracy’. Have you seen it? It’s all about ‘the sustainability secret’ and reveals how animal agriculture (i.e. farming animals so we can eat meat and drink milk) is ruining our planet at a more destructive rate than transportation, people and any other industry. It’s available on Netflix, and I really do urge you to watch it. It’s scary actually. If you don’t have Netflix, but want to see what it’s all about, then this infographic is a good summary: www.cowspiracy.com/infographic
So, I concluded the answer is yes; we are eating too much meat. Including myself. And probably my family. Thank GOODNESS I decided on a veggie dinner. It’s not fully vegetarian – as it has shrimp paste and fish sauce. But it’s a step in the right direction if consuming less meat is on your agenda.
I’m not going to get all preachy about this – as I still have lots to learn about climate change and its causes. But as I’m getting older (and wiser), I’m realising more and more that I actually give a fuck about the planet. So if there’s anything I can do to help it, I’ll give it a go. If you want to fully understand what I’m on about, watch the documentary!
So this recipe is adapted from one I made in Thailand with a Canadian chef, on a cookery course in Koh Pha Ngan. My mum, sister and friend were blown away by how tasty it is. I hope you enjoy this veggie FEAST as much as we did.
Note: I used Thai Taste Massaman red curry paste as, when in Thailand, we had the luxury of getting the paste from the local curry paste lady. She makes them fresh every week, and sells them on her street stall. The one from Thai Taste is great value, available in most supermarkets, and is the closest I can currently find to match the curry paste lady’s version.
What you need
- 1 400ml tin coconut milk
- 1 200ml box of coconut cream
- 3 Thai chillies (de-seeded)
- cooking oil – I used Borderfields garlic and ginger rapeseed oil; it’s lush
- a thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1 white onion (finely diced)
- two handfuls of toasted peanuts (crushed)
- 3 medium-sized white potatoes (roughly diced)
- half a butternut squash (diced)
- 100g baby corn
- 100g sugar snap peas
- 2 fresh limes
- 1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tsp palm sugar
- 2 heaped tbsp massaman curry paste – I used Thai Taste and think this one is the most authentic
- Basmati rice and coriander to serve
What to do
Peel and roughly dice the potatoes, then boil until soft. Drain and set aside until later.
Heat oil in a wok over a medium heat.
Gently fry the onions until they begin to soften (and turn translucent). Add the garlic and ginger and stir for 1-2 minutes.
Add the chopped chillies and stir.
Next, add the diced butternut squash and stir-fry for 4 minutes, this time over a medium-high heat. Make sure the onions and garlic don’t burn, or the flavour will turn bitter. And nobody wants that!
Add 2 heaped tbsp of curry paste and stir to release the fragrance (smelling gooood, right?). Then add the tin of coconut milk, the coconut cream and a splash of water. Stir it all together and bring to a gentle boil.
Turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the soy sauce, palm sugar and fish sauce. Cover and simmer on a low-medium heat for 10 minutes… And for the last 5 minutes of cooking time, add the baby corn and sugar snap peas.
Add the diced potatoes and give it all a good stir. Simmer on a low heat for 3 minutes with the lid off to warm the potatoes through and get rid of any excess water.
Serve with basmati rice, coriander (optional), lime wedges and top with crushed peanuts.