This dish is inspired by classic Thai panang curry, made lighter and vegan using chickpea and butternut squash instead of meat. This butternut squash and chickpea panang curry will please even the pickiest of eaters, with the butternut squash naturally sweetening the dish and making it incredibly creamy. It’s perfect for weeknight dish, coming together in just under 30 minutes! It also makes a deliciously healthy dish for dinner parties, and no one would guess it was effortless.
Ever since I was a child, I loved the sweet and spicy flavors of Thai cuisine. It was my family's absolute favorite cuisine to try when we went out to eat, or to order in on busy nights. We loved to order family style, so that everyone could try an array of different curries, but Panang was always my favorite. I loved how the rich flavors of peanut and lime were incorporated into a sweet, mild curry, and I’m so excited to bring you this whole foods, plant-based version! The butternut squash naturally sweetens the dish, and the chickpeas add a satisfying crunch, along with extra protein!
What is Panang curry?
Panang curry is a variation of red curry that originated in Thailand. Also known as Phanaeng, it’s a sweet curry with a nutty peanut flavor. Panang curry paste mainly consists of dried chili peppers, lemongrass, kaffir lime zest, and peanuts. Although some curry pastes contain shrimp paste, many brands are completely vegan. Get my favorite authentic vegan Thai curry paste here! When combined with coconut milk, the paste creates a rich, fragrant, and creamy curry.
- Panang curry or red curry: This Thai curry paste includes a special blend of spices that creates the flavorful base of this curry! Not all curry pastes are vegan, but you can get my favorite brand of authentic curry paste right here! (Vegan of course!)
- Coconut milk: Makes it ultra rich and creamy!
- Peanut butter: Gives it the delicious sweet, peanut flavor.
- Turmeric: Has anti-inflammatory benefits and adds depth to the flavor.
- Butternut squash: A deliciously sweet veggie that works perfectly in this dish.
- Chickpeas: Add protein!
- Garlic and ginger: The aromatics we need to create a fragrant curry base.
- Cilantro: I love lots of cilantro in my curries!
- Lime juice: Adds a delicious tangy citrus flavor.
- Coconut sugar: Not necessary, but adds extra sweetness!
How to Make Vegan Panang Curry:
First, you’ll sauté the aromatics including garlic, ginger, and onion in some oil or water. Then, we will add the turmeric and vegan panang curry paste, to create a fragrant base. Then we add the cubes of peeled butternut squash, and sauté until browned. Then we add coconut milk, chickpeas, and more liquid if needed, along with sugar if you choose to use it. We let this curry simmer before adding in the peanut butter, lime juice, and fresh cilantro. And this dish is done in just half an hour!
Why you’ll love this butternut squash & chickpea Panang curry:
- Quick: This dish is done in just 30 mins!
- One-pot: This vegan curry is fully completed in the same pot- less dishes and mess!
- Creamy and flavor-rich: This vegan panang curry is so rich, creamy, and fragrant- packed with rich aromatic flavors from the Thai curry paste, cilantro, lime, peanut butter, and turmeric!
- Perfect for a crowd: This dish is a crowd pleaser and can be made in a large batch to serve many.
- Gluten-free and oil-free: This vegan recipe is naturally gluten-free and can easily be made oil-free.
Special Diet Notes and Serving Suggestions
This vegan Thai peanut curry is naturally gluten-free and can easily be made oil-free by simply substituting the oil for water. This dish is delicious served over rice, quinoa, cauliflower rice, or even on its own. You can also serve it with some flatbread for scooping. Top with chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime, and chopped peanuts.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do! Comment below if you try it or share it with me on Instagram @zenandzaatar, I would love to see your recreations!
- ½ onion, diced
- 2 tbsp coconut oil or water
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp ginger, minced
- 2 tbsp panang curry paste or red curry paste*
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced
- 1 14 oz. can full fat or reduced fat coconut milk
- 1 15 oz, can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1-2 tbsp coconut sugar
- ½ cup water or vegetable broth
- 3 tbsp peanut butter
- 2 tbsp water
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- ½ cup cilantro leaves
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large pot, sauté onion in oil or water until translucent, about 5 mins. Add minced garlic and ginger and sauté for about 2 more minutes. Add turmeric and red curry paste, and sauté spices for about 2 more minutes, until fragrant.
- Add the peeled and diced squash, and toss to coat in spices. Brown for 5 minutes.**
- Once squash is browned, add coconut milk, water or broth, and chickpeas. Bring to a simmer and turn down the heat to medium low. Cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes, until squash can be pierced with a fork. Add more water as needed if you would like a thinner consistency.
- Taste and add the 1 tbsp coconut sugar if it is not already sweet enough from the squash.
- Whisk peanut butter and 2 tbsp of water in a small dish or bowl, and then add it to the curry. Add salt and pepper to taste. Combine and simmer for 2-5 more mins.
- Remove from heat, stir in cilantro and lime juice. Serve immediately alongside rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice!
**For oil-free method, just toss the squash in spices and proceed to the next step (adding liquid). No need to wait for the squash to brown.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 553Total Fat: 38gSaturated Fat: 26gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 706mgCarbohydrates: 47gFiber: 10gSugar: 13gProtein: 14g
Nutrition information is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although zenandzaatar.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures are only estimates.