Malaysian Chunky Vegetable Vegan Curry

Chap choi, which translates to curry mixed veggies, is a common option in Malaysia at many hawker stalls that sells mixed rice. The colorful vegetables and spicy curry always whet the appetite.

This recipe uses a simple chile paste made from fresh red jalapeños, shallot, garlic, lemongrass, and galangal. This paste gets sautéed for 20 to 30 minutes until fragrant. It is then simmered along with tomatoes, eggplant, cabbage, tofu puffs, and okra. (Note: The okra comes in at the end to prevent a slimy consistency.)

This dish is flexible the pairing ingredients if you don’t have or can’t find tomatoes, eggplant, and okra, try cabbage, long beans, and boiled potatoes.

Recipe Credit: FOOD52: Woonheng Chia

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  • 1.In a 1 1/2–quart saucepan, heat 1 cup of the oil to 350°F. Fry the eggplant sticks, in small batches, for about 1 to 2 minutes or until the skin turns slightly darker. Using a pair of tongs, transfer to paper towels to drain.
  • 2.Fill another saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Blanch the okra for 1 minute. Drain and set aside.
  • 3.Make the chile paste: Place the jalapeños, shallot, garlic, lemongrass, galangal, and 2 tablespoons of oil in a food processor. Blend into a fine paste. (Alternatively, you can also use a mortar and pestle to pound the ingredients.)
  • 4.Heat a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium-low heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, then sauté the chile paste, stirring often, until the chile turns a darker shade of red, 20 to 30 minutes. Add more oil if the pan starts to look dry along the way.
  • 5.Add the cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and continue to sauté for a few more seconds until fragrant.
  • 6.Add the stock, tofu, pandan, and bring it to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes over medium-low heat.
  • 7.After 10 minutes, uncover the pot. While the broth is simmering, add the cabbage, tomatoes, eggplant, lime leaves, and curry leaves. Use the back of the spatula to immerse the vegetables in the broth if needed.
  • 8.Season with the palm sugar, salt, and mushrooms seasoning. Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
  • 9.Once the cabbage is as crisp-tender as you like, add the okra and coconut milk, then simmer for another 2 to 3 minutes.
  • 10.Swirl in the lime juice, taste, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Remove the pandan leaves before serving.

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  • 1 1/4 cups neutral oil, divided
  • 2 small eggplants, cut into 2-inch long matchsticks
  • 8 ounces red jalapeños, roughly chopped (about 2 cups)
  • 1 shallot, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, white parts roughly chopped (green parts discarded)
  • 5 slices galangal
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 6-7 cups vegetable stock
  • 10 pieces of fried tofu puffs, rinsed in hot water and halved
  • 3 pandan leaves, tied into knot
  • 3 cups cabbage, roughly chopped
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 5 ime leaves, stems removed and thinly sliced
  • 5 curry leaves, plus more as desired
  • 1 1/2 palm sugar rounds (about 22 grams), roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon mushrooms seasoning or vegetable bouillon, plus more to taste
  • 4 ounces okra, tips removed and sliced
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice or tamarind juice, plus more to taste