It’s pretty clear to me by now that cashew cream is my newest kitchen trick that I can’t get enough of. At one time, I used to think it was daunting and time-consuming to make cream sauce from cashews. Little did I know that with the help of my Vitamix, making cashew cream is only slightly more daunting or time-consuming than opening a jar of cream sauce. I mean, opening certain jars can be a daunting task in itself…
But one need not have a fancy or high-powered blender to make cream sauce in minutes. Creamy, smooth and luscious sauce is attainable simply by soaking your cashews ahead of time, then draining and rinsing them before blending. This softens the cashews and puts them just minutes from being turned into a silky smooth sauce.
This curry was born out of a recent craving for the Thai-style restaurant cream sauces that I’ve been deprived of ever since going vegan. I think I might miss Thai curries more than anything — in fact, it might be the only thing I can truly say with much certainty that I actually miss from my former life. But I take solace in knowing that I don’t miss the headaches and stomach pains I used to get after ingesting such high salt, dairy and fat-ladden meals.
This chickpea curry was the first of several attempts at making a creamy curry sauce that even came close to what I used to enjoy at Thai restaurants. While there are also Indian flavors incorporated into this dish, it nevertheless instantly reminded me of the Thai curries I used to love.
One of the keys to this dish is to make sure you’re using a really good quality curry powder. I tried this two ways, once with a really high-quality curry powder I bought at the Dual Spice Specialty Store in New York City, which is almost literally bursting with hundreds, if not thousands, of spices, powders, Ayurvedic herbs and Indian seasonings. I can’t believe I lived just blocks from there for four years while living in New York and only went there once, and just to get a snack to eat while we were waiting for a table at the restaurant next door. I guess you really do take for granted what you have until it’s gone. That said, there are several Indian spice and grocery stores in Michigan that I do plan to re-visit soon. Hopefully they will have similar curry powder options.
Anyways…where was I? I can get sidetracked when talking about Indian spices, I guess. But my point was that I made this two ways, first with the Dual Spice Store hot curry powder, and then with Penzey’s hot curry powder, which was the closest I could find to the flavors of the spice store powder. The Penzey’s curry definitely tasted different than the first, but it was equally delicious in its own way. So, once I knew that this curry would turn out with a variety of curry powders, I felt confident sharing it here. But the point is, while you don’t need a specialty spice store curry powder, in my opinion, a really good quality curry powder is a must!!!
- 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk or non-dairy milk of choice
- 1 cup + 1/4 cup vegetable broth, divided
- 1 large or 2 small zucchini, chopped into larger bite-sized pieces
- 1 large bell pepper, chopped into larger bite-sized pieces
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and chopped into larger bite-sized pieces
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
- 1 14 or 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Penzey's hot curry powder, or other hot/mild salt-free curry powder to taste
- 1 teaspoon Thai Kitchen red curry paste
- Blend cashews, water and almond/non-dairy milk in blender on high speed until very smooth. Set aside.
- Saute onion, zucchini and red pepper over medium-high heat in 1/4 cup of the vegetable broth until soft, about 7-8 minutes. Add fresh ginger after about 5 minutes, for the last 2-3 minutes of cooking.
- Add chickpeas, curry powder, pre-made cashew cream, 1 cup vegetable broth, red curry paste (which should eventually "melt" into sauce) and salt. Stir. Heat through, which will be another 2-3 minutes. Do not boil. Taste for salt and add additional salt to taste, if necessary. Serve warm over quinoa or rice.
Note: If you're using a very high-powered blender such as Vitamix, soaking the cashews prior is optional. Personally, I never soak my cashews, but make sure to blend on very high speed for about a minute, or until very smooth.