Weekend Wokking II: Tuber Coconut Curry

Ha! And I thought I could do a blogging event monthly. It is surprisingly difficult.

This month’s feature ingredient is the humble potato. My favourite piece of 2008 trivia is that 2008 is the UN International Year of the Potato. What a wonderful accolade for this most simple, and rather ugly, of vegetables. Can you just imagine the procession celebrating the ‘tater?

Although we currently have an abundance of potatoes from our veg box, I have not made anything very exciting with them in the last month. We’ve mostly been eating boiled potatoes with various veges for week-day dinners. I did make a rabbit stew, but I was not so happy with how it turned out. I did not take a final photo, and binned all the preparation photos.

I got inspiration for my recipe from this source. My recipe is pretty darn similar, except that there are variations based on what I had in my kitchen and how I wanted this flavoured.

For the curry

  • 4 or 5 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 1 sweet potato, diced into pieces roughly the same size as the quartered potato
  • 1 zucchini / courgette , diced into pieces roughly the same size as the quartered potato
  • 1 yellow capsicum / pepper, diced (you get the drift)
  • 1 onion, diced finely
  • 3 or 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (mam ruoc)
  • 1 can (375g) of coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of mustard seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of garam masala
  • 1/2 teaspoon of tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspon ginger powder (or use fresh if you’ve got it; sadly, I did not)
  • a pinch (or more) of cayenne pepper
  • water
  • a nice big stockpot

For the rice

  • 2 cups (or one cup per person) wild and brown rice
  • half a dozen cloves
  • water
  • a saucepan
  • a clean tea towel

What to do

  • Saute onions and garlic in a little peanut oil until the onions are translucent.
  • Add the shrimp paste and fry for a few minutes.
  • Add all the spices and fry until fragrant and formed into a nice paste. If the spices are starting to stick to the bottom of the pan, add in tiny amounts of water.
  • Add can of coconut milk. Usually, a the coconut milk in a can separates into two parts, one more liquid, the other more solid. The solid part gathers at the top of the can. Instead of mixing it in, spoon as much of this out as you can, saving it for later in the recipe, and use the more liquid milk. Cook this with the paste until a consistent dark orangey, browny paste is formed.
  • Add the potato and mix in with the paste.
  • Pour in enough water to cover the potatoes. I usually pour water into my now empty can of coconut milk, which serves the purpose of using all the coconut goodness and cleaning the can so I can happily put it into the recycle bin.
  • Let this simmer for about 10 minutes, then add the sweet potato. If needed, top up with water to cover all the potatoes.
  • Cover and let simmer until the potatoes are soft, but not mushy. The way I test mine is by pushing a fork gently in. There should be no resistance and nor should the potato crumble. If the potato does crumble, all is not lost. Just finish off the last few steps quickly and on lower heat, rather than leisurely.
  • Add the zucchini, capsicum and the reserved slightly more solid coconut milk. Mix in into the rest of the curry. Turn the heat to low and let the whole thing simmer for a while.

To cook the rice This is my current fail-safe way to cook rice without a rice cooker. Although these instructions are separate, I usually cook the rice right after I have thrown the potatoes in, during simmering time. Another way of ensuring your rice is ready when your curry is, is to do the rice first. After all, it can sit there, waiting, whereas sometimes you do not want the accompanying dish to wait on the rice, e.g. stir fries!

I have mentioned before that I am not accurate with my measurements. I am happy and comfortable in the kitchen, so I do not need exact measurements for successful cooking (except for baking. I have learnt my lessons – no estimates for baking!) My rule of thumb for rice is almost literal – about a thumb’s breadth of water on top of the rice. When I was a girl and my chore was to put the rice on for the family, I was always perplexed by my mother’s instruction to check the water level by plunging a finger in and measuring to the first knuckle. I mean, surely everyone’s hand size is different? But somehow, this has always worked for our family. And I still use it now, with all different types of rice – jasmine, basmati, brown, wild, red, camargue, arborio – and I’ve only had the occasional rice mishap, usually because of temperature of the cooker, rather than water. The only caveat to the above is that brown rice does require just a little bit more water, and basmati, just a little bit less.

  • Boil the rice, covered, on medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  • If you want to flavour your rice, just add the flavourings with the water. For this dish, I added some cloves. I also like to add cardamon pods, when having basmati rice and curry.
  • Check the rice occassionally to ensure that not all the water has evaporated. I am always perplexed by instructions not to look in on cooking rice. I always look in and have only had occassional mishaps which I don’t think were caused by my checking the progress of the rice. In my rice-cooking world, checking is vital.
  • Taste test occassionally, as the 15 minutes approaches.
  • When testing a grain of rice, you want it a bit harder than al dente at the point where there is very little water.
  • If, when you check the rice, you find that there is still a lot of water but the rice grains are soft, drain the water, place over high heat with the lid off for a few minutes and do the above step.
  • When there is barely any water left, turn the heat off and place a clean tea towel on top of the saucepan, replace lid and then leave the rice to sit for at least 5 minutes.
  • Check that the rice is done – slightly softer than al dente is what you’re after.
  • If you have to do other things at the tea towel part, it’s fine. I have left rice sitting like this for 15 – 20 minutes, and it’s still turned out well. I have also been impatient and left it barely any time at all, and it’s been fine.
Tuber Coconut Curry and Wild Rice!

As a bonus, because this post is late, I cooked roast potatoes for dinner tonight. One of the advantages of an electric cooker is that an electric oven walks all over a gas one.

Roasted is the best way to eat potatoes. No, wait. Chips are. Roasted comes second.

Do you need a recipe for roasting?

  • Chop potatoes up. However many you want.
  • Chop other veges suitable for roasting up. Other suitable veges are carrots, pumpkin, brussels sprouts, zucchini / courgette, parsnip, mushroom, cauliflower. Heck, you can roast just about any vegetable. The size that you chop veges will depend on what it is and when you intend to throw it in with the potatoes. I chop carrots to about 150% the size of pototoes. I add mushrooms, brussel sprouts and courgettes near the end of roasting time.
  • Quarter an onion – keep the ‘tail’ of the onion intact so the whole thing doesn’t fall apart.
  • Throw in a whole head of garlic, too, if you’ve got one sitting about. Tonight, I sadly did not. For the garlic just separate the individual cloves and rub them together in your hands to remove most, but not all, of the papery skin.
  • Liberally pour olive oil over the mixture of potato, onion, garlic and whatever other veges you’re using.
  • Crack on some pepper.
  • Toss together.
  • Bung it in the oven (temperature medium high, unless you’re in a hurry, then crazy high) and go find something else to do for about 40 minutes to an hour.
  • Ta da! Roasted veges.
  • To get a nice crisp edge, I cheat by grilling my potatoes for about five minutes prior to serving. This is a bit better for my heart than using heaps of oil and butter, which is how most of the roasting recipes I’ve seen tell me to get that crisp edge.
  • Serve with other yummy things, but, most importantly, lots of condiments. In the photo below, we have tomato sauce, chilli sauce, wholegrain mustard, Colman’s mustard and spiced carrot chutney.
I’m submitting this recipe to Weekend Wokking, a world-wide food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks celebrating the multiple ways we can cook one ingredient.

The host this month is White on Rice Couple.

If you would like to participate or to see the secret ingredient, check who’s hosting next month.



  1. Yay! You got it out. A bonus recipe because it’s late. If only restaurants had that same philosophy when it comes to food. πŸ˜›


  2. I’m curious. Do you wash your rice first? Quite frankly I can never be bothered, and I’ve always been very happy with the resulting texture. To say nothing of the amount of water it takes before the water becomes clear! Anyway, recently someone mentioned to me that they always wash their rice so they get a fluffy texture. I’ve never thought that my rice was not fluffy, but maybe it does stick together a bit more. Your thoughts?

    Oh yes, delicious looking food. Just in time to send me off to the kitchen to make dinner.


  3. Sounds yummy! I like your detailed descriptions especially since you cook by feel. I’ve never done the tea towel bit when making rice.


  4. WC – Indeed, if only restaurants had a similar philosophy. Although, I’d probably be so grumpy that I would not eat it.

    Kirsty – The vexed washing the rice issue! I don’t, because I’m lazy and I don’t see the point of it.

    I find that rices such as brown or wild don’t need any washing. This is possibly because when I buy brown or wild, I have bought them from a fancy store (the Progressive Dinner’s goji berry of rices πŸ™‚

    However, white rice – jasmine, basmati, Korean short grain, Japanese sushi – can sometimes appear dirty. This is possibly because I have bought it from an import store, possible it is the nature of white rice to be somewhat dirtier than brown. At most, I will rinse it, but I never wash rice until the water runs clear.

    My mother used to make me wash the rice because she was concerned about dirt. She grew out of that πŸ˜€

    Whenever my family cook rice without a rice cooker, we actually reserve the water and drink it as an accompanying very light soup – it’s texture is kind of thick and milky – and I’m told this rice-juice is also fed to young children & babies. Not in Australia, where you can get nutritious milk, but I assume that this is what I was fed as a bub when being weaned onto solids.

    So, I think what I am saying from the above is that there is goodness in the sticky stuff on white rice…

    I think sticky rice is actually a factor of too much water in the cooking and not enough time letting it dry out at the very end (the tea towel bit).

    Nikkipolani – I’ve only taken up the tea towel bit recently and I am converted!


  5. Thanks for that, Oanh. You’ve helped me decide to believe the compliments I’ve received on my rice in the past. I think if someone thinks I’ve used a rice cooker when I haven’t then I’m doing okay. Still, I’m gonna try that tea towel trick.


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