Coconut Curry: 3 Price Ranges

This is a choose-your-own-adventure recipe, price-wise. I may do this from time to time if you like the idea: take a base recipe (i.e. the curry) and offer different levels of frugality, shall we say; typically reflected in the protein choice. I happened to have some shrimp in the freezer that was getting into the danger zone & needed to be used soon, so it happened to be a frugal choice for me in this instance (who wants to throw away perfectly great shrimp?). But a much cheaper route would be to use chicken as the protein, and the cheapest of all would be our beloved tofu. Any of the choices will be delicious, and will still highlight the same great curry flavors.

Let’s give this a whirl, shall we?


1 tablespoon olive or peanut oil
1 onion, sliced
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons curry powder
15 ounce can light coconut milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

Protein choices:
SPLURGY: 1 pound jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined OR
THRIFTY: 1 chicken breast, sliced into thin strips OR
FRUGALICIOUS: 14 ounces firm tofu, drained, pressed and cubed

1 cup peas (frozen is fine)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into chiffonade

Heat oil in large, nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Saute onions for about a minute, then add red pepper and garlic until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. If using chicken or tofu, add now. Add cumin, coriander, and curry powder. Cook for 1 more minute. Stir in coconut milk, sugar, and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered for 3-4 minutes.

If using shrimp, add now and increase heat to medium-high. Cook and stir until shrimp is cooked through, about 4 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 1 tablespoon water. Stir into pan  and cook until sauce has thickened, about two minutes. Stir in basil, and remove from heat. Serve over jasmine rice, brown rice, or, as pictured, quinoa.

P.S. Yes, I’m tagging this vegan and vegetarian, because it would be if you choose door #3.

— posted by Anne


  1. says

    I made this Thursday morning to take to work for lunch. Served it on its own without a starch but thought it was fab!! I doubled the veggies (I usually do to up the volume and lower the calories) and just used 1 cup of light coconut milk. I need to come up with something for the rest in the fridge or get it into the freezer in cubes.

  2. says

    I still have this jar of quinoa sitting on my pantry shelf and I haven’t worked up the nerve to use it yet. Maybe I’ll have to try this recipe to break it in. I love the “three ways” idea – thanks!

  3. says

    Thanks, guys!

    Good call on sauteeing the tofu cubes first, as another option! And yeah – I use quinoa just about everywhere you would normally use rice these days. I’m addicted.

  4. says

    a truly GREAT idea – frugality levels . . . like our Homeland Security Alert system – hey! maybe we could have colors? :)

    Just a thought on the tofu – you could also saute the tofu cubes in some hot oil before adding to the dish to give them a crunchy outside.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *