Last updated on September 13th, 2020
Vegan Thai panang curry is a delicious thai curry with potent complex flavors. Authentic, better than takeouts easy weeknight recipe!
One pot vegan comforting curry under thirty minutes, loaded with vegetables. Best served with steamed jasmine rice!
What Is Panang Curry?
Panang curry is a popular thai curry made with meat or veggies. The base contains the usual suspects of thai curry like kaffir ime eaves, lemon grass, galangal, bird’s eye chili etc.
In addition this curry has peanuts making it less spicy and slightly sweet. This curry originated from Penang, an island from west coast of Malaysia.
My love for cooking Asian at home is increasing day by day and I am digging out our old favorites a lot. We are enjoying vegan pho, pad Thai, schezwan noodles, pot stickers, Thai fried rice like never before.
This curry is an old favorite which I am making frequently these days. I vividly remember how we enjoyed this curry in Thailand many years back. Also I have has this in Thai restaurants many times.
I have said this before, Thai cuisine is a top favorite at home. Thai curries especially is my all time favorite with hot steamed rice.
While it packs all the flavors of a typical Thai curry, it is also much less spicy and has a slight sweet notes. This is a best suited one for those who love curry but not very spicy ones.
Flavorful spices typically used in Thai curries like galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass go into the making of this panang curry paste too.
Thick coconut milk lends a creamy touch and adds a subtle flavor to this curry.
This panang curry has peanuts in it, a unique ingredient special to this recipe. While many recipes call for creamy peanut butter, the best curries I have tasted had crushed peanuts in them
So when I make this vegan panang curry at home, I always freshly roast and crush the peanuts.
Perfect cooked veggies, crunchy peppers, thick coconut milk and most flavorful curry base, what’s not to love in this?
If you love comforting curries for dinner, skip that takeout and make yourself a pot of this addictive and delicious curry, so good with rice!
This Thai Panang Curry Is
made with veggies only, vegan & gluten free.
uses vegan panang curry paste without shrimp or fish.
Rich, creamy and flavorful
Very delicious & mildly spicy with sweet notes from peanuts
Comforting under 30 minutes
Best for weeknights.
This is a super easy recipe once you have tackled the curry paste. Here I have used homemade curry paste but sourcing all the ingredients for panang curry paste may not be easy for everyone.
I bought thai red curry kit from my local organic store and used the ingredients as required. You can easily use 3-4 tablespoons of store bought paste here.
With store bought paste this curry gets ready in flat 20 minutes using an instant pot or pressure cooker.
However if you wish the curry paste at home, here are ingredients, proportions and some variations.
Panang Curry Paste Ingredients
Dried Chili peppers– Use bird eye chili dried or fresh if available else simply substitute with regular dried chilies.
Lemon grass- Use fresh if available or dried.
Kaffir lime leaves– Use regular lime leaves or just double the quantity of lime zest.
Galangal– If unavailable use fresh tender ginger.
Shallots– If shall0ts are not available you can use pearl onion or one small red onion.
Other ingredients we need are coriander seeds, cilantro roots, cumin seeds, lime zest.
Do note that traditionally this paste is made using a mortar and pestle. Crushing the spices in mortar and pestle allows the sow release of oil and makes the paste more flavorful. In a pinch you can use a food processor for that slightly coarse texture.
Since getting most of the ingredients for this curry paste is a bit difficult, I have not given a detailed recipe for how to make it. If you are keen on making this curry paste at home, please refer my thai red curry paste and reduce the quantity of chilies to taste.
As mentioned above picking up a jar of panang curry paste from your trusted brand is easier. But this curry paste is not as easily available so this ingredient may be of some help to you.
In the United States you can try maesri brand, my sister and few other friends always use this brand for Thai curry pastes.
If nothing works just use thai red curry paste. Mix crushed peanuts and some brown to it and mix well.
Do note that this curry is supposed to be less spicy than red curry. So if you are making this curry using red curry paste, just add two tablespoons instead of the mentioned four tablespoons.
At the same time if you prefer spicier curry use 6 tablespoons of store bought paste.
Vegetables– For this vegan curry recipe, I like to sneak in as many veggies as possible. There is nothing like a bowl of piping hot curry with hearty chunks of veggies.
Vegetables typically used in this recipe are potatoes, corn, baby corn, carrots, French beans.
Protein– Usually pressed tofu is added in this recipe, but I have not used this time. Add tofu along with potatoes.
Peanuts– Peanuts are the important ingredient in this recipe. You can either add crushed peanuts or natural peanut creamy peanut butter.
Soy sauce– Soy sauce is the vegan substitution for fish sauce used in traditional Thai panag curry recipe. You can also use tamari for gluten free version or even just leave it out.
Coconut milk- Thick coconut milk added towards the end adds a creamy texture and typical Thai curry taste. Coconut milk also tames down the spice. I have used homemade coconut milk here. If using store bought ones make sure it is thick and creamy, unsweetened.
Palm sugar- palm sugar lends a wonderful deep flavor and slight sweet taste to this curry. Unlike granulated sugar, palm sugar is not overly sweet and has wonderful flavor. Also this sugar adds a nice color to the curry. You can use brown sugar or jaggery if palm sugar is not available.
Step By Step Method
I have prepared this vegan panang curry in instant pot and it was ready in 30 minutes. This includes roasting peanuts, chopping veggies and preparing coconut milk.
If you have the ingredients already prepped, it can be done in 15 minutes. I have also included stove top instructions in the notes section.
Dry roast peanuts and grind it coarsely in a food processor.
Combine 4 tablespoons panang curry paste and the crushed peanuts in a bowl. Reserve around 2 teaspoons crushed peanuts for serving.
Rinse, peel and cube the veggies. Chop bell peppers into strips. Slice the onions thinly.
Extract milk from 1/2 of a large coconut or use 3/4 cup thick unsweetened coconut milk from a can.
How To Make Thai Panang Curry.
Once the prep work is done, this curry is super easy to make.
Switch on your instant pot and press saute button.
Once it displays hot, add 3 tablespoons sesame oil or peanut oil. Next add minced ginger garlic, slit green chili and sliced onions. Saute well for 2 minutes.
Now add the panang curry paste-peanut mixture.
Saute very well for 3-4 minutes until the paste is thoroughly cooked and oi separates from sides.
Now add 1/2 cup water and de glaze. Mix and cook for a minute.
Add ground turmeric, palm sugar. Mix well and cook for 2 more minutes.
Add the chopped veggies.
Mix the veggies very well to coat the curry paste properly.
Add 1.5 cups water and salt to taste.
Close the instant pot and set the timer to 4 minutes. Seal the pressure valve .
Quick release the pressure and press saute button again.
Add thick coconut milk and mix gently.
Add chopped bell peppers and cook in saute mode for 2 minutes.
Switch off the pot, add thai basil leaves, chopped lemon grass and crushed peanuts.
Serve warm with steamed jasmine rice.
Recipe Notes, Tips
Stove top instructions– Use a heavy bottomed pan and follow the recipe exactly as mentioned. After adding potatoes and other veggies, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes or until the veggies turn tender.
Add coconut milk, bell peppers and simmer for 2 minutes. remove from flame. Serve.
Refer recipe card for detailed instructions.
Is Panang curry gluten free?– Yes, this version is gluten free as I have not added soy sauce. If preferred you can add 1 tablespoon tamari.
Are panang curry and thai red curry the same?– No they are not. While most of the ingredients used in both these curries are same, they are not entirely the same.
Thai red curry is spicy with sharp notes of chili but this panang curry recipe is moderately spiced and has a slight sweet note. Peanuts are used in this curry but not in thai red curry.
Both the curry pastes ook the same expect that thai red curry paste is spicier.
Where can I get panang curry paste? – In the United States you can get in Asian markets and select gourmet stores. You can also order it off online. Here in Chennai I purchase in some organic chains and few gourmet stores carry the same.
Tips for best flavor?- Saute the curry paste very well in oil until oil separates. Also coat the vegetables very well in the curry paste for more flavor.
Storage– This panang curry keeps well for 3-4 days in refrigerator and 2 months in freezer. Store in portioned out containers and reheat gently as required.
Serving Suggestions– Serve this curry piping hot in a bed of freshly steamed jasmine rice or basmati rice. This curry also goes well cooked quinoa.
Thai Panang Curry (Vegan)
- 3 tablespoons oil coconut, peanut or sesame
- 1/2 cup onions thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons minced ginger garlic or paste
- 2 green chilies slit
- 4 tablespoons panag curry paste use red curry paste if unavailable
- 1/2 cup roasted and crushed peanuts
- 2 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
- 2 carrots peeled and cubed
- 15 French beans chopped
- 1/2 cup corn kernels
- 1/2 cup chopped bell peppers chopped into strips
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric turmeric powder
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari optional, I did not use
- 3/4 cup thick coconut milk
- thai basil leaves to serve
Prep Work For Thai Panang Curry
- Dry roast peanuts and grind it coarsely in a food processor.
- Combine 4 tablespoons panang curry paste and the crushed peanuts in a bowl. Reserve around 2 teaspoons crushed peanuts for serving.
- Rinse, peel and cube the veggies. Chop bell peppers into strips. Slice the onions thinly.
- Extract milk from 1/2 of a large coconut or use 3/4 cup thick unsweetened coconut milk from a can.
How To Make Thai Panang Curry.
- Once the prep work is done, this curry is super easy to make.
- Switch on your instant pot and press saute button.
- Once it displays hot, add 3 tablespoons sesame oil or peanut oil. Next add minced ginger garlic, slit green chili and sliced onions. Saute well for 2 minutes.
- Now add the panang curry paste-peanut mixture.
- Saute very well for 3-4 minutes until the paste is thoroughly cooked and oi separates from sides.
- Now add 1/2 cup water and de glaze. Mix and cook for a minute.
- Add ground turmeric, palm sugar. Mix well and cook for 2 more minutes.
- Add the chopped veggies.
- Mix the veggies very well to coat the curry paste properly.
- Add 1.5 cups water and salt to taste.
- Close the instant pot and set the timer to 4 minutes. Seal the pressure valve .
- Quick release the pressure and press saute button again.
- Add thick coconut milk and mix gently.
- Add chopped bell peppers and cook in saute mode for 2 minutes.
- Switch off the pot, add thai basil leaves, chopped lemon grass and crushed peanuts. Serve vegan panang curry warm with steamed jasmine rice.
Stove top instructions–
- Use a heavy bottomed pan and follow the recipe exactly as mentioned. After adding potatoes and other veggies, cover the pan and cook for 15 minutes or until the veggies turn tender.
- Add coconut milk, bell peppers and simmer for 2 minutes. remove from flame. Serve.