This Thai-style vegetable curry is made with a thick and creamy sauce whose main ingredient is sunflower seeds!
Curry made with a sunflower seed based sauce? I’m guessing you might be scratching your head a bit over this one. You think I’ve gone full hippy on you, admit it.
Like many other seeds and nuts, soaked sunflower seeds blend well to create a smooth and creamy sauce. They’re also a fraction of the price of other seeds and nuts typically used to make vegan sauces (yes cashews, I’m looking at you). So I thought why not make a creamy curry with them?
The seeds need to be soaked for at least a couple of hours, or overnight. I’ve also read that you can boil them for 15 minutes instead if you need to speed the process up, but I haven’t tested this myself. Use a high speed blender to make quick work of it (and for the smoothest results), or give them a good amount of time in a food processor to get them as smooth as you can (give the motor a rest every minute or so). The blended seeds by themselves have a slightly bitter taste which makes me think I probably wouldn’t use them to make milk for using on things like cereal. BUT that slight bitterness is completely masked by the strong Thai flavours in this beautifully golden and sunshiney curry sauce.
Sunflower seeds are incredibly nutrient dense. Quarter of a cup of seeds (or the equivalent of one serving of this sauce) provides 82 per cent of the RDI for vitamin E, and is high in a range of other essential vitamins and minerals. Vitamin E is a valuable antioxidant whose significant anti-inflammatory effects may reduce the symptoms of conditions where inflammation plays a big role (such as asthma). In addition, vitamin E plays an important role in the prevention of heart disease. (Source). Paired up with the healing properties of turmeric, this recipe is nothing but good for you.
And hey, you know I’m not saying you should give up making Thai curries with coconut milk! I LOVE traditional coconut based curry sauce, this is just something different which brings a unique set of nutritional qualities to your meal. Variety is the spice of life, yeah?
I served this curry sauce with a big medley of stirfried vegetables. It was fresh, colourful and spicy, just how I like it. You could also include tofu or tempeh, or any other protein of your choice.
Sunshine curry: Thai style curry sauce
For the curry sauce:
- 1 cup sunflower seeds, (soaked for at least two hours or overnight)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- Large thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, grated or finely chopped, approx 25g
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
- 2 tsp ground turmeric
- 4-6 tbsp Thai red curry paste, check label if vegan
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, (or rice vinegar or white vinegar)
- 2 leaves kaffir lime, very finely chopped (if you don't have any, substitute with zest and juice of one lime)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp raw sugar, or sweetener of your choice
For the vegetables:
- 1-2 tbsp coconut oil
- Orange kumara, thinly sliced, sweet potato
- Green beans, topped and tailed
- Mushrooms, sliced
- slices Courgette, (zucchini) cut into thin slices
- Capsicum, sliced
- Baby corn
- White or brown rice of your choice
- Chopped coriander, (cilantro)
- Chopped red chillis, optional
For the curry sauce:
- Drain and rinse sunflower seeds. Add them to a high speed blender or food processor with three cups of water and blend for 1-2 minutes or until as smooth as possible.
- Heat 2 tbsp coconut oil in a large frypan. Add garlic, ginger, onion and chilli (optional - leave it out if you prefer your curry mild) and cook for a few minutes or until soft and fragrant.
- Add turmeric and 4-6 tbsp curry paste (use less if you like your curry mild, more if you like it hot). Stir and cook through for a few minutes.
- Add the blended sunflower seeds, vinegar, kaffir lime leaves, salt and sugar.
- Stir through and cook over a low heat for about five minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, sugar or vinegar as needed until it tastes well balanced.
- Set aside while you cook your vegetables.
For the vegetables:
- I haven't specified quantities here as the vegetables you use are really up to you, your preferences and the number of people you're cooking for. I really enjoyed this combination, but sub vegetables in or out as you prefer.
- Heat 1-2 tbsp coconut oil in a wok or large frypan.
- If using, add kumara (sweet potato) first to give it a few minutes of cooking time before anything else is added. When it is semi-cooked, continue stirfrying and adding vegetables one type at a time.
- Cook vegetables until done to your liking (I like mine quite crisp), then pour in the curry sauce and heat through for a minute or two. Add a little extra water if necessary to bring the curry to your preferred consistency.
- Serve curry with white or brown rice (I like white jasmine rice with Thai curries), and chopped coriander (cilantro) and red chillis on the side.