This warm, comforting recipe involves a little prep, as you make the paste from scratch, but using a food processor makes it super quick and you retain all the fresh flavours from the herbs and spices which can sometimes get lost when using a ready-made version. Once the paste is made, then the rest is quick and easy, so you can make the paste ahead of time – in fact it stores in the fridge in an airtight container for two weeks.
Making your own paste also means you benefit more fully from a range of nutritious ingredients – ginger is a natural all rounder with stomach settling, anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties; coriander is full of free-radical quenching phyto nutrients, plus vitamins K, A and C; limes and chillies are rich in vitamin C, plus the capsaicin that give chillies their fiery heat are also thought to bring anti-carcinogenic, anti-diabetic and anti-bacterial properties. And coconut milk and oil are a great source of the super healthy fat, lauric acid, which brings anti-fungal and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Serving the curry with squash delivers more nutrients and a slower hit of carbohydrate than rice, so either try having the squash instead of rice, or just serve a smaller amount of rice alongside the squash. Okra is a good source of minerals like calcium, magnesium and manganese, plus they contain a gut soothing mucilage substance, similar to the gel in aloe vera.
For the paste
1-3 medium green chillies, deseeded – adjust quantity depending on how hot you like it
1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 clove of garlic
Small handful each of fresh coriander (stalks included) and Thai basil leaves
1 lime, zest and juice
1 tsp fish sauce
1 lemongrass stalk, outer leaf removed and sliced
5 kaffir lime leaves, ripped into small bits
½ tsp each ground coriander and ground cumin
Good grinding of black pepper
1 ½ tbsp melted coconut oil or flavourless oil such as rice bran oil
Other curry ingredients
500g chicken breast, cut into slices or bite-sized pieces
2 tsp coconut sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
Finely diced green vegetables such as fine green beans and mange tout
Fresh coriander leaves and a slice of lime to garnish
For the vegetables
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into inch-sized chunks
1 pack okra, stalks removed and cut into cm-sized chunks
1 tbsp coconut oil
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
Make the paste first by placing all the paste ingredients together in a food processor and whizzing until a paste forms, adding just a small splash of water if you need to loosen the mixture a little. Either use the paste straight away or keep covered in the fridge until you’re ready to make the curry.
About an hour before you want to eat, get the oven on at 180 degrees C, and prep the squash. Melt the coconut oil in an oven dish in the oven, then when melted, add the squash, salt and pepper, toss to coat and then put back in the oven until tender, about 45 minutes. Then just before you start the curry, put the chopped okra into a small oven dish, drizzle with some olive oil, salt and pepper and place in the oven.
For the curry, gently heat a heavy bottomed pan or wok and add the thick cream from the top of the tins of coconut milk leaving the watery part until later. Heat the cream in the pan until it bubbles and the fat starts to separate. Then add three tbsp of the curry paste and stir into the coconut, heating until the paste smells fragrant.
Add the chicken and stir well so it becomes coated with the paste. Then add the rest of the coconut milk, plus the vegetables, coconut sugar and fish sauce and let the curry bubble for about ten minutes until the chicken is cooked. The sauce should be the consistency of single cream.
Garnish with fresh coriander leaves, a wedge of lime, and serve with the cooked vegetables and some basmati rice if desired.