Comfort could be a recipe of lemongrass laksa curry
Nourishing one-pot meals could be one of the ways to bring a sense of warmth in trying times. Bengaluru-based wellness coach Simrun Chopra shares a versatile recipe that can be adapted by vegetarians as well as non-vegetarians.
LEMONGRASS LAKSA CURRY
Ingredients for the laksa paste
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
5 to 8 dried red chiles ( check notes )
Ingredients for the soup
2 lemongrass stalks (check notes)
2 teaspoons coconut oil
Half kg curry cut chicken / tofu / soy chunks
3 large onions, thinly sliced
300 ml coconut milk
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoons jaggery or brown sugar
Salt to taste
1 cinnamon stick whole
Handful mung bean sprouts, rinsed (optional)
Noodles (Regular or flat rice noodles)
Fresh mint leaves, torn
Fresh cilantro leaves, torn
Chilli paste (optional)
For laksa pasta, grind together the ingredients; coriander, peppercorns, cumin, fennel, cloves, turmeric, and chillies. Ensure the paste is smooth. Add a little warm water or coconut milk if required.
Peel the tough outer layers from the lemongrass stalks. Then mash the core in a mortar-pestle, or use a small heavy frying pan. (Check notes for a substitute ingredient, if lemongrass is unavailable)
After making the broth, de-bone the chicken, reserve the meat and broth and discard the bones. Skip this step if using a vegetarian protein.
Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chicken, onions, spices and cook. Stir constantly until fragrant. It’ll take about 2 minutes. ( Check notes for a low-calorie option)
Tip in the coconut milk, broth, jaggery and salt. Add the cinnamon stick and lemongrass. Bring to a boil, then simmer, covered for 20 minutes.
If using sprouts, boil them until soft. Transfer sprouts into a bowl.
Add the flat rice noodles to a pot and cook until firm. It will take about 4 minutes. Drain and rinse well.
Divide sprouts and noodles among two bowls. Ladle in the soup, remove cinnamon and lemongrass, and garnish with mint and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges, sambal or chilli paste.
Spices : Grind the dry spices till they form a smooth paste. It should not be grainy. Add coconut milk or water if needed while grinding.
Dried red chillies : If you want just the colour without the heat, use larger dried chillies. You can even split them open and remove the stem and seeds. Soak the chillies in hot water and then grind with the dry ingredients. This helps create a more robust paste.
Cooking without oil : To reduce calories, skip the oil completely by adding 50 ml of coconut milk directly into the pan. Stir in the laksa paste and onions and cook till the coconut milk separates. If you are using fresh coconut milk the fats will separate. Packed homogenised coconut milk will not split and that is okay.
Noodles: Use vegetable noodles made from zucchini, carrot or beetroot as a low-calorie option. If using zucchini noodles, just add them raw and top with hot soup.
Coconut milk: For a thinner consistency, use home made coconut milk. For a thick creamy texture, use coconut cream. You can vary the amount based on your personal preference.
Vegetarian options : use paneer, soya chunks, tofu or tempeh as a substitute for meat.You can add these at the end. Ideally roast them on a pan first.
Vegetables : I sometimes like adding haricot beans and snow peas Accompaniments : Serve with your choice of accompaniments. I like to serve this with lime, chopped green chillies, fried garlic, fried onions and coriander. Add micro greens if you have
Lemongrass Replacement : As lemon grass is not easily available you can replace the lemon grass with lime ( nimbu leaves). Add a handful of torn nimbu leaves to the soup while boiling. This will give you a similar but not same flavour.
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