I can’t believe we have reached October of this year! It has been a long and hard road stuck here in California not being able to venture out across the world. I am thankful that I am safe at home, but I miss traveling with a passion. My last trip before I would be handcuffed to the West Coast was Southeast Asia. I am so very grateful that I had the opportunity to spend three weeks overseas for an unforgettable adventure. I was able to visit Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore and eat and explore to my heart’s content.
Going through travel withdrawals for these past nine months has required me to be inquisitive on how to cure my addiction. I made travel shadow boxes which features some of my most treasured collectables from my worldly explorations. (Here’s the link to my DIY guide). I even rewatched seasons one through twelve of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown for the 100th time, which definitely is one of my favorite series. After all that I still have a longing for packing my colorful suitcase and waking up someplace new. If I can’t travel somewhere why not at least create something for my tastebuds to travel to.
Since it’s my absolute favorite season I decided I would incorporate Fall’s favorite fruit into my dish. I brushed off one of my latest cookbooks from my last trip and decided to try my hands at pumpkin curry. To be honest living in L.A. has allowed me to never have to make my own Thai food as there are some amazing places to order from. I rather enjoyed making this dish. As I chopped up the pumpkins and squashes, I was reminded of when I was in Chiang Mai at an elephant sanctuary feeding elephants of all ages out of my own hands. After I took my first bite of this curry, I was brought back to my fabulous curry dinner I had in Phuket. This curry dish is spicy, hearty, flavorful and its definitely worth giving a try!
1 quart (32oz.) of vegetable stock
4-5 sprigs of lemongrass
2 cups (approximately) of celery stalk
1 pack extra firm tofu, drained and dried out
2 tbsp. curry powder
2 tbsp. ground coriander
2 small/ medium sized pumpkins
4-5 large dried chilies, soaked in water to soften
2 tbsp. (2 cloves) garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. seaweed powder (substitute for shrimp paste)
2 tbsp. of lime zest (approximately 2 limes), finely chopped (substitute for kaffir lime zest)
2 tbsp. of lime juice (approximately 2 limes).
¼ cup peeled shallots, finely chopped
1 ½ tbsp. lemongrass, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tbsp. of fish sauce (use seaweed powder for Vegan option)
28oz. (2 cans) coconut milk
1 tbsp. of coconut sugar
¼ cup basil leaves (substitute for Thai basil)
salt/ pepper to taste
additional vegetables of your choice (optional)
In large pot simmer together vegetable stock, lemongrass and celery stalks until it comes to a boil. Turn off the heat and allow stock to cool completely. Refrigerate overnight if possible, otherwise let sit for a few hours.
Pat dry tofu. Cut tofu into bit size pieces. Add tofu to a medium sized bowl. Add 1 tbsp of curry powder, coriander, salt and pepper to taste. Mix tofu and coat with coconut oil. Bake tofu at 425F for approximately 40-45 minutes.
Cut pumpkins in half and clean out seeds with spoon. Coat pumpkins in coconut oil and add salt pepper to taste. Add pumpkins to baking sheet and bake at 425F for approximately 20-25 minutes.
While tofu and pumpkins are baking, in a large pot or dutch oven heat oil oven medium heat. Add peppers, garlic, bay leaves, shallots, lemongrass, remainder of curry powder, coriander, cumin, seaweed powder, half of lime zest and lime juice and salt/ pepper to taste. Stir-fry until fragrant. Deglaze pan by adding half of vegetable stock. (Save other half of stock for making your rice). Remove bay leaves and chilies from the pan. Add coconut milk.
Once pumpkin is finished cooking. Remove outer rind, chop it up and add it to the curry. Continue to stir-fry. Add remainder of lime zest and lime juice and season with fish sauce (seaweed powder) and coconut sugar. Simmer over low heat until pumpkin is very tender. Add tofu, basil and additional vegetables of your choice. Turn off the heat.
Make jasmine rice according to package instructions with additional vegetable stock. Serve in a bowl. Garnish with basil and cilantro.
Devour and enjoy!