Today, we'd like to help bring a taste of Thailand straight to your kitchen. This vegan Thai red curry with kabocha squash and tofu is rich with spice, tang, and sweetness that will give you cause for celebration!
We're always in awe of different cultures, delicious food, and authentic experiences. A huge part of the reason we love to travel is because of the cuisines we get to try (we're just obsessed with food, alright?).
Sadly, we still have yet to travel to Thailand, but the curries we enjoyed in Malaysia and Vietnam sparked our inspiration for this recipe. And who doesn't love a great curry recipe?!
Thai cuisine blends four seasonings extremely well - salty, sweet, sour, and spicy. That's exactly what we've done here today. We've created a recipe that's incredibly easy to make, yet the complexity makes it hard to believe how little effort you need to put in!
The kabocha squash is really what sets this curry apart. It tastes like a cross between butternut squash and sweet potato (where has this been our whole lives?). And, you'll have the added benefit of not having to peel the skin because it's edible!
This red curry recipe is completely vegan, gluten-free, and will make you want to do a happy food dance (or is that just us?).
🍲 Key ingredients
- Red curry paste: also known in Thailand as kreung gaeng phet daeng (say that 5x fast) is a blend of lemongrass, galangal (Thai ginger), red chilis, and other spices. The spiciness will vary per brand, so you can easily customize the spice to your preferences. We typically use Arroy-D Red Curry Paste because it doesn't contain shrimp paste, which is often found in other brands.
- Kabocha squash: what a great source of beta-carotene (for the eyes), vitamin C, and B vitamins kabocha squash is! It doesn't just taste amazing, it's healthy for you too! Kabocha squash is starchy, sweet, and slightly nutty. It creates a creamy broth and works perfectly to balance the spice.
- Coconut milk: full-fat coconut milk adds another element of creaminess to this curry while helping balance the spice. Pro tips: coconut cream and coconut milk are different, sweetened coconut milk is not what you need, and light coconut milk won't make as rich of a broth. This ingredient is full of electrolytes essential to helping your body carry out its functions.
- Red Thai chilis: there are so many different types of Thai chilies, so to just say "Thai chili" is oversimplifying. Technically, there's no such chili as a "Thai chili." The type we use is known as Prik Chee Fah, which translates to "chili pointing to the sky." These sit around 50,000-100,000 Scoville Heat Units (SHU), or a moderate spice. You can always add more, but it's quite tough to take it back. Start slow!
First, you'll need to drain and press your brick of tofu. Set that aside to while you get the cashews and kabocha squash ready!
If you don't have cashews that are already roasted, spread ¾ cup whole, raw cashews evenly out on a baking pan (or about 1 cup if you want some for garnishing).
Turn your toaster oven or oven to 250 degrees F and bake the cashews for 15-20 minutes. Just make sure to check and turn them frequently to prevent burning! Once the cashews appear golden brown, remove them from the oven and set aside until the end.
Prepare the Kabocha squash by washing it first since you won't need to peel the skin off. Then, cut it in half, being careful as it can be a little tricky to cut. Scrape out the insides before moving on to chopping. Pro tip: save the seeds to roast as a snack!
After both halves are scraped, chop your kabocha into 1-inch chunks. Set those aside while you prepare the shallots, ginger, garlic, Thai chilis, and bell pepper. At this point, remove the tofu from your press and cut it into ½-inch chunks.
Once your curry ingredients are prepped, melt a little coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add in shallots, ginger, garlic, and Thai chili. Cook for a couple of minutes, or until nice and fragrant.
Then add in your red curry paste and bell peppers, stirring to break up large chunks of curry paste. Next, throw in the kabocha squash and cook for a few minutes more.
After the kabocha squash is coated, mix in the coconut milk, vegetable broth, coconut sugar, tamari or liquid aminos, and tofu cubes. Bring everything to a simmer, then reduce heat and cover.
Simmer your curry until the kabocha squash is tender, which only takes about 10-15 minutes! Lastly, add in the spinach, lime juice, lime zest, and cashews. Cover and cook for a little longer at the same heat.
Taste and season with salt and black pepper to your preference. Serve this kabocha squash curry warm with rice, cilantro, Thai basil, and more lime wedges!
If you have leftover curry, it will keep in the fridge for about 5-6 days. It will also keep in the freezer for up to 2-3 months in freezer-safe bags or containers. It's best to freeze it in single-serve portions so you only have to reheat what you need.
💭 Budget tips
We think everyone should be able to eat better for less, so here are a few tricks to make this recipe even more affordable:
- Replace the cashews with peanuts
- Purchase the kabocha squash at your local Oriental market
- Use white or red onion instead of shallots
🍴 Tasting notes
This vegan Thai red curry is perfect for a quick and delicious weeknight meal. It's:
If you try this kabocha squash curry, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Thai Red Kabocha Squash Curry
- Large pot
- Chef knife
- Cutting board
- 1 brick extra-firm tofu ($1.42)
- ¾ cup whole raw cashews ($1.29)
- 5-6 cups kabocha squash ($6.85)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil ($0.24)
- 2 medium shallots, finely minced ($0.80)
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, minced ($0.04)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced ($0.12)
- 1-2 Thai chilis, minced ($0.12)
- 1 large red bell pepper, julienned ($0.82)
- 3 tbsp red curry paste ($0.34)
- 2 cups full-fat coconut milk ($1.08)
- 2 cups vegetable broth ($0.50)
- 2-3 tbsp coconut sugar ($0.09)
- 1 ½ tbsp liquid aminos or tamari ($0.18)
- 2 tbsp lime juice ($0.24)
- ½ tbsp lime zest ($0.00)
- 2 cups baby spinach ($0.52)
- Lime wedges
- Roasted cashews
- Thai basil
- Rice, brown or white
- First, drain and press your brick of tofu. Set that aside to press while you get the cashews and kabocha squash ready.
- If you don't have cashews that are already roasted, spread ¾ cup (or slightly more for garnishes) whole, raw cashews evenly out on a baking pan.
- Turn your toaster oven or oven to 250°F. Bake the cashews for 15-20 minutes, checking and turning them frequently to prevent burning. Once golden brown, remove them from the oven and set aside.
- Prepare the Kabocha squash by washing it first since you won't need to peel the skin off. Then, cut it in half (be careful as it can be tricky to cut) and scrape out the insides. Tip: you can save the seeds to roast as a snack.
- After both halves are scraped, chop your squash into 1-inch chunks with the skin still on. Set those aside while you cut the shallots, ginger, garlic, Thai chilis, and bell pepper. At this point, cut the tofu into ½-inch chunks as well.
- When your prep is done, melt 2 tbsp coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add in shallots, ginger, garlic, and Thai chili. Cook 2-3 minutes, or until fragrant.
- Next, add in red curry paste and bell pepper. Stir to break up large chunks of curry paste, about 1-2 minutes. Then, add in kabocha squash and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Once the kabocha squash is coated, mix in coconut milk, vegetable broth, coconut sugar, tamari or liquid aminos, and tofu cubes. Bring everything to a simmer, then reduce heat to low-medium and cover. The curry should stay at a simmer, but not be boiling (you may have to reduce it to low or just above).
- Simmer your curry until the kabocha squash is tender, about 10-15 minutes. Lastly, add in the spinach, lime juice, lime zest, and cashews. Cover and cook for 4-5 minutes more at the same heat.
- Taste and season with salt and black pepper to your preference. Serve curry warm with rice and a garnish of cilantro, Thai basil, and more lime wedges.
- If you prefer a crispier, firmer tofu texture, you can pre-fry it in some oil before adding it to the curry.
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of this meal.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty dish ideas, check out our:
- Spicy peanut noodles with tofu (if you can handle the heat).
- Curried butternut squash & apple soup or West African peanut stew, which we highly recommend for the colder weather months.
- Teriyaki tofu & vegetable stir fry if you want another quick and easy tofu recipe!
You can use other winter squash varieties like butternut, sugar pumpkin, hubbard, or even sweet potato.
Thai curry is made famous for its use of coconut milk. We wouldn't recommend skipping this creamy ingredient because it helps balance the spice in this dish. If you want a lower fat content, opt for lite coconut milk (although results will vary).
If you can't find the specific chili we use in this dish, you can use something like a jalapeño. Any pepper that makes the dish spicier will work. Just remember to start slow depending on the spicy pepper you use.
Although most grocery stores should carry kabocha squash nowadays, the best place to find kabocha squash is at your local Oriental market.