Yellow curry is a delicious Thai dish that is bursting with flavor. The rich curry sauce pairs perfectly with rice or noodles. An essential component of yellow curry is the vegetables. Choosing the right vegetables can take your curry from bland to brilliant.
When selecting veggies for yellow curry, you’ll want to pick options that complement the complex curry sauce. The vegetables should add texture, flavor, color, and nutrients. You’ll also want to opt for produce that holds up well to longer cooking times.
If you’re new to making yellow curry, it can be tricky to know where to start when it comes to picking vegetables. That’s where this guide comes in! Below you’ll find 15 of the best vegetables to include in yellow curry recipes.
An Overview of Yellow Curry
Before diving into vegetable options, let’s do a quick rundown of what defines yellow curry. As the name implies, this Thai curry gets its sunny color from turmeric and other warm spices like cumin and coriander. The sauce also usually contains coconut milk, which lends body and richness.
In addition to spices and coconut milk, yellow curry paste is integral to the flavor. This paste is made from ingredients like lemongrass, shallots, garlic, ginger, chilies, and galangal. Yellow curry paste can be bought pre-made, but many cooks prefer to make their own homemade blend.
When it comes to proteins, yellow curry often contains chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or tofu. But the vegetables are what really shine! Now let’s look at 15 of the best options.
Potatoes are a classic addition to curries of all kinds, including yellow curry. Their starchy texture soaks up the flavorful sauce. Potatoes hold their shape well when cooked in the aromatic curry broth. They add substance and heartiness.
Choose a potato variety like Yukon gold, red, or russet. Dice the potatoes into 1-inch cubes before adding them to the curry. Cook the potatoes for 10-15 minutes until fork-tender. Their mild flavor beautifully absorbs the Thai flavors.
Sweet carrots pair wonderfully with the complex spice blend of yellow curry. They add a pop of color and valuable nutrients like vitamin A. Shredded or sliced carrots cook up quickly in the hot curry sauce, softening but still retaining a pleasant crunch.
For added visual appeal and textural contrast, you can include both shredded carrots and carrot rounds or chunks in your yellow curry recipe. Cook the carrots for 5-10 minutes until tender but not mushy. Their natural sweetness balances the heat.
3. Bell Peppers
Bell peppers are another excellent choice for yellow curry. Their crisp texture and subtle flavor stands up well to the strong seasonings. Bell peppers also contribute pleasant crunch.
Select bell peppers in a variety of colors for a vibrant curry. Try red, orange, yellow, and even green peppers. You can add them sliced, chopped, or cut into chunks. Cook the peppers just until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
4. Green Beans
Slender green beans add texture and color to yellow curry. They’re a nice complement to heartier vegetables like potatoes and carrots. Green beans retain a slight crunchy bite even when cooked.
Trim the ends off fresh green beans before slicing them diagonally or leaving them whole. Add them to the curry at the same time as other quicker-cooking vegetables. Cook for 3-5 minutes until bright green and tender-crisp.
Cauliflower is a nutritional powerhouse that is delicious in yellow curry. When cooked in the flavorful sauce, the cauliflower florets soak up the Thai flavors beautifully. They add visual appeal and texture as well.
Chop or break cauliflower florets into bite-size pieces before adding them to the pot. Cook the cauliflower for about 10 minutes until just tender. Undercooking leaves a raw taste, while overcooking leads to mushiness, so get the timing right!
6. Sweet Potato
Sweet and hearty potatoes are an excellent match for fragrant yellow curry. Choose sweet potatoes with bright orange or purple flesh for a pop of color. Dice them small so they cook through completely.
Cook sweet potato pieces for about 10-15 minutes until tender. The natural sweetness of the vegetable helps temper the heat of the curry. Sweet potato and white potato pair deliciously together in curry recipes.
Eggplant works wonderfully in yellow curry. When cooked, the eggplant flesh absorbs the flavors of the complex sauce, while retaining a pleasant texture. Eggplant provides an array of nutrients like manganese, B vitamins, and antioxidants.
Look for smaller Thai or Japanese eggplants which will cook quicker. Dice the eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Cook for 8-12 minutes until fully tender. Eggplant pairs particularly well with bell peppers, green beans, and basil.
No matter which variety you choose, squash makes a tasty addition to yellow curry. Butternut, acorn, yellow crookneck, zucchini, and pumpkin squash are all great options. The tender texture and mild flavor complements the other ingredients.
Peel, seed, and dice the squash into 1-inch pieces. Cook for about 10-12 minutes until tender but not waterlogged. The natural sugars in squash add a touch of sweetness that balances the heat.
Fresh tomatoes add texture, color, tang, and moisture to yellow curry. Canned diced tomatoes work just as well. Tomatoes also provide valuable antioxidants like lycopene.
Chop tomatoes into 1/2 inch pieces, or use an 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes. Add the tomatoes when the other vegetables are nearly finished cooking to avoid overcooking them. Simmer just until heated through, about 3-5 minutes.
Meaty mushrooms like cremini, shiitake, and oyster make a great addition to vegetarian yellow curry. They provide an umami, savory flavor that stands up well to the complex spices. Mushrooms also contribute valuable nutrients like B vitamins.
Slice mushrooms about 1/4 inch thick so they cook up quickly. Saute the mushrooms for 3-4 minutes before adding them to the curry. This drives off excess moisture and enhances flavor. Cook another 2-3 minutes in the curry sauce.
11. Bok Choy
Bok choy gives yellow curry a nutritional boost, providing vitamins A, C, and K. Its ruffled leaves and crisp stalks add texture and crunchy bites. Bok choy retains its shape well when cooked briefly in the curry broth.
Separate the stalks and chop them first since they take longer to cook. Add the leaves during the last 2-3 minutes of cooking. Stir frequently so the leaves wilt evenly without overcooking.
Slender spears of asparagus lend elegant texture and earthy flavor to yellow curry recipes. Asparagus also contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. Leave the spears whole or cut them into 1- to 2-inch pieces on the diagonal.
Add the asparagus during the last 3-5 minutes of cooking so it retains some crunch. Overcooking leads to limp, soggy spears. A quick simmer in the flavorful broth is all it needs.
13. Snap or Snow Peas
Sweet, crisp snap or snow peas make a tasty accent in yellow curry. They retain their signature crunch even when cooked briefly. Just a handful of peas goes a long way, providing ample visual appeal and texture.
Snow and snap peas only need 1-3 minutes of simmering to heat through and soften slightly while still maintaining a delightful crunch. Avoid overcooking them to preserve that signature crisp-tender texture.
14. Bean Sprouts
For added crunch, stir in a handful of bean sprouts just before serving the curry. Bean sprouts contain vitamin C, folate, and fiber. Their fresh flavor and texture complements the cooked vegetables and rich sauce.
Look for crisp, clean sprouts with no dark spots or sliminess. Give them a quick rinse before adding them to the finished curry. The residual heat will lightly cook them without compromising their crunch.
15. Fresh Herbs
No yellow curry is complete without some fresh herbs sprinkled on top! Cilantro, basil, and mint all enhance the flavor of yellow curry. They provide freshness that brightens all the ingredients.
Chop the herbs right before serving the curry. Try adding some chopped roasted peanuts or cashews on top too for crunch. The herbs and nuts add nice texture and visual appeal.
Tips for Making Yellow Curry
- Choose vegetables that cook at a similar rate so they finish together. Dice denser veggies like potatoes smaller.
- Don’t overload the curry with too many vegetables, which can make it crowded. Aim for 2-3 hearty veggies along with fresh herbs or beansprouts.
- Add tender vegetables like tomatoes and peas at the end so they don’t overcook. Heartier veggies can simmer longer.
- Let the vegetables shine by using just enough curry sauce to lightly coat them without drowning them.
- Adjust the spices to suit your taste. Add more curry paste and chili for extra heat or tone it down with more coconut milk.
Sample Yellow Curry Combinations
- Potatoes, carrots, bell peppers
- Sweet potatoes, green beans, eggplant
- Cauliflower, snap peas, bok choy
- Butternut squash, asparagus, tomato
- Potatoes, mushrooms, snow peas
What are the best vegetables to use in yellow curry?
Some of the most popular and best vegetables to use are potatoes, carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, green beans, eggplant, squash, peas, bean sprouts, and fresh herbs like cilantro, basil, and mint.
What vegetables add texture to yellow curry?
Vegetables that add nice texture contrast include cauliflower, bell peppers, green beans, snap peas, asparagus, bok choy, and bean sprouts. They retain some crunch even when cooked.
What vegetables add color to yellow curry?
Carrots, bell peppers, cauliflower, tomatoes, and orange or purple sweet potatoes contribute bright pops of color. Herbs like cilantro and mint also provide fresh green color.
Which vegetables soak up flavor best?
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, and cauliflower are excellent at absorbing the rich flavors of the curry sauce. The starchiness of potatoes also helps thicken the sauce.
What vegetables add sweetness to balance the spice?
Carrots, sweet potatoes, peas, squash, corn, and snap peas all add some natural sweetness that helps temper the heat of the curry paste and chilies.
What vegetables provide nutrition?
Some of the most nutritious choices are cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, peas, asparagus, and mushrooms.
How long do I cook the vegetables?
Cook heartier vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, eggplant, and carrots for 10-15 minutes. Quicker-cooking veggies like peas, tomatoes, or bok choy only need 3-5 minutes. Cook just until tender.
What ingredients go well with vegetables in yellow curry?
In addition to vegetables, yellow curry often contains protein like chicken, shrimp, tofu or chickpeas. Rice or noodles and yogurt or coconut milk pair nicely. Top with fresh herbs.
What tips help vegetables cook properly?
Cut vegetables uniformly for even cooking. Add tender vegetables at the end. Don’t overcrowd the pot. Use just enough sauce to coat without drowning. Adjust spices to taste.
Yellow curry is a flavorful Thai dish that comes to life when made with fresh, high-quality ingredients. Selecting the right vegetables to complement the complex curry sauce is key. Potatoes, carrots, peppers, green beans, and eggplant are excellent choices. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different produce combinations to find your favorite mix of textures and flavors.
Whichever veggies you choose, you can feel confident knowing that homemade yellow curry paste and a medley of fresh vegetables will yield a dish that is aromatic, colorful, nutritious, and delicious. Taking the time to craft yellow curry from scratch is a cooking adventure that will transport your taste buds.
What Vegetables Go in Yellow Curry?
- Bell Peppers red, orange, yellow, and green
- Green Beans
- Sweet Potato
- Squash butternut, acorn, yellow crookneck, zucchini, pumpkin
- Mushrooms cremini, shiitake, oyster
- Bok Choy
- Snap Peas or Snow Peas
- Bean Sprouts
- Fresh Herbs cilantro, basil, mint
- Heat oil in a pan and sauté aromatics like chopped onion, garlic, and ginger.
- Add curry powder and cook for 1-2 minutes to release flavors.
- Pour in coconut milk and chicken or vegetable stock. Simmer for 5 minutes.
- Add your proteins like chicken, shrimp, or tofu. Cook until nearly done, about 5-7 minutes.
- Next, add chopped vegetables like carrots, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, snap peas, etc.
- Simmer vegetables in sauce for 5-10 minutes until crisp-tender.
- Finish with lime juice, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt to taste.
- Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro before serving.