Stacking Functions Garden

Recipe: basic coconut milk curry



Here is Adam’s most basic curry recipe, endless variations of which are eaten at our house every week.  This feeds about 3-4 adults.

curry1Required ingredients:
-1 can coconut milk (full fat, don’t bother with the light crap)
-1 T. red or green curry paste or yellow curry powder (more or less, to taste)
-1 T. brown sugar
-1 tsp. tamari or soy sauce

Other ingredients (pick and choose):
-1 onion, sliced vertically
-About 1/2 lb – 1 lb vegetables, such as green beans, peas, broccolli, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, or whatever you have on hand
-About 1 c. of some source of protein, such as beans (garbanzos are good), leftover chicken, hard-boiled eggs (sliced in half) or fried tofu, seitan, etc.
– red pepper flakes (especially if you use curry powder, as it is not as spicy as curry paste)


Heat wok or large frying pan (preferably with slanted sides) over medium heat until hot.  Add 1/3 of the can of coconut milk.  Bring it to a low boil, stirring occasionally.  Boil for 3-5 minutes, until it starts to give off a sweet aroma.


Stir in curry paste or powder, squishing it around until it completely melts into the coconut milk, about 2-3 minutes.  Add onions and other vegetables.  Add the rest of the can of coconut milk, the brown sugar, and the tamari (or soy sauce).


Bring to a simmer, cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.  If you are adding protein, add it now and simmer for another 5 minutes.  We generally use already-cooked meat or beans — if you have raw meat, brown it lightly before you even start making the curry.  (Hard-boiled eggs should be added last, just as you’re about to serve it.)


Optional: garnish with a splash of lemon or lime juice and/or fresh cilantro right before serving.  Serve over brown rice.

The version pictured above is green curry with brocolli, carrots, and onions.


Here’s another version Adam made a few weeks ago.  It’s a red curry with chicken, green beans, and onions.

We usually keep this pretty simple.  This recipe is based on a couple of the curries in Real Vegetarian Thai, one of the best Thai cookbooks I’ve ever seen.

When we make this Rowan will eat more than any of the adults at the table.  Anneke puts away plenty, too.  When made relatively mild, this is great toddler food.

21 thoughts on “Recipe: basic coconut milk curry

  1. Wow, just what I was looking for. Thanks!

  2. I’m making this TONITE! Thanks so much for such a simple recipe 🙂

  3. perfect! i love to have a basic recipe that I can modify as needed – based on what i have on hand. especially since this can be vegetarian or not.

  4. Thank you for not putting 25 ingredients in it! Hope it’s good!

  5. made it tonight cause it seemed so simple and I had all the ingrediants!!! HUGE HIT with the kids and family!!!! Thank you so much, I added fresh parsly and zuccini from the garden along with carrots and green onions so yummy!!

  6. Incredibly helpful…all the other recipes I looked at wanted to over complicate things.

  7. Had a random can of coconut milk in the cupboard and wanted a recipe that used all of it — thanks for posting this delicious curry! Easily customizable, which definitely means this will be in my regular repertoire!

  8. Hi Jennifer & Adam, I was looking for a curry recipe to serve a weekly study group (in place of our usual soup, cheese & bread). I wanted a curry dish in honour of the “birthday girl” who is a fan of curry . . . but it needed to be acceptable to others who may never have eaten curry before (if you can imagine that!). The recipe needed to be super quick, too, given my time and health constraints. I’m writing a blog encouraging single folks to cook real food for themselves [rather than have cereal or popcorn, ugh]. My approach could work for 2-person households, too . . . empty nesters or single child/single parent households. I’d love to link your blog to mine — with your permission. Have a look at and see if you think we might be compatible. Warm regards, Susan

  9. Hey Jennifer! I made my very first curry last night and it was amazing! I used your recipe to get me going and will be posting about it later today! I will link up!

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  12. Just came upon your blog. Was perusing the web looking for cheap ideas for making a trellis. Love the way yours came out!

    So then I started perusing your recipes and came upon this recipe for coconut milk curry. I’ve been wanting to make a Thai curry dish for a long time, but have never known how much curry to use. I’d like to make a very (very) mild red curry dish, but have always been afraid I’d make it too hot. How much curry paste would you recommend using given I’d like to make it mild? And if I used less than 1T, should I adjust the brown sugar accordingly?

    Thanks for a great blog.


    • I think starting with 1T of curry paste makes sense. As far as the sugar goes, I’d just go with it, see how it tastes, then add sugar, salt, and or pepper at the end to your taste. Have fun!

      • Oh, and this makes a very mild curry, with the 1T. We give this to our very spice-averse young kids, and Adam usually uses more like 2T of paste.. If you’re nervous, you could try 1/2 a tablespoon to start with. Less than that though and it won’t taste like curry anymore! You could also try curry powder rather than paste. It’s not spicy at all. More of an Indian flavor than Thai that way, though.

  13. Excellent! I think I’ll start with the 1T and hope that it’s as mild as you say. Is there a brand of red curry paste you recommend?

    • We always get Thai Kitchen, with the black and red label. Asian foods section or Asian market. Let me know how it goes!

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