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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

Vegan Panang Curry with Tofu and Crunchy Peanuts

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Sweet and crunchy peanut butter mixed with silky coconut milk for the curry – combined with firm tofu and fresh farmer’s market vegetables make this vegan panang curry recipe a comforting and tasty meal.

vegan panang curry in a black bowl with fresh herbs and rice

Thai food is probably my favorite type of Asian food. Something about those creamy coconut curries mixed with veggies, tofu, nuts and spices just makes for such a cozy one-pot meal.

When I make Thai curries, I usually stick to my Yellow Curry, because it is guaranteed to be a delicious Thai curry, and satisfying every time, and I figured – why mess with that?

But then I discovered Panang Curry at a Thai restaurant, and had to make my own version at home!

Latest Recipe Video!

This vegetable panang curry is guaranteed to become one of your favorite curry dishes. Sweet, spicy and rich in flavor, this curry combines crispy tofu and colorful vegetables with a coconut milk sauce to round out this delicious dish. For some added texture, I crumbled a few tablespoons of crushed peanuts on top.

It’s sweet and spicy, and tastes just like an authentic panang curry, but it just happens to be vegan friendly!

My whole family loved it, and I think I liked it even better than my Yellow Curry recipe! Your taste buds will be dancing!

What Makes This Vegan Panang Curry So Good?

  • Super Flavorful: This easy recipe is full of flavor! The red curry paste combined with the cumin and coriander in a creamy coconut milk sauce is warm, with a hint of spice!
  • Fresh Veggies: This recipe calls for tons of fresh vegetables. It’s a great way to add several servings of veggies into your diet in a really delicious way!
  • Wonderful Textures: There are a variety of tastes and textures in this dish that makes it interesting and satisfying. Crunchy peanuts, creamy coconut, and firm tofu combine to create an on point dish!

Recipe Ingredients and Notes

ingredients for vegan panang curry

Extra Firm Tofu: Drain the tofu, press out any extra water, and dice into 1 inch cubes.

Crunchy Peanut Butter: I recommend using crunchy peanut butter for the texture. You only need about 2 tablespoons but it adds a richness and nutty flavor to this dish.

Red Curry Paste: Red curry paste is one of a few different types of Thai curry pastes. Others include green curry, and yellow curry. Each type of curry paste has a different flavor. It is made with a combination of shallots, lemongrass, cayenne red pepper, ginger, soy sauce, lime juice, and spices. You can make your own homemade version or use a store bought version for ease. It’s a combination of spicy and sweet. Some red curry pastes have fish sauce, so be sure to check the ingredient list before using.

Light Coconut Milk: Using a light coconut milk cuts back on the calories and fat in this dish, but still adds luscious creaminess. No need for coconut cream or full fat coconut milk to achieve a luxurious flavor!

Fresh Vegetables: I added some Farmer’s Market fresh vegetables such as shallots, red bell pepper, zucchini, carrots, and broccoli florets. You can add a mix of different veggies based on your preferences!

Brown Rice: Traditionally served with jasmine rice, I prefer to serve this flavorful curry over a bowl of brown rice for added fiber.

Kaffir Lime Leaves: As an optional added topping, you can top this dish with kaffir lime leaves. These leaves are a traditional ingredient in Thai cuisine. You can cook them into the curry sauce, or add to the top as a garnish. You can usually find them in Asian Markets.

Other Spices: Salt, brown sugar (or maple syrup), cumin, coriander seeds, and cayenne pepper.

Tools and Equipment

Step by Step Instructions

Press and Cook Your Tofu: Place tofu on several layers of paper towels. Cover with additional paper towels. Let stand for 30 minutes, pressing down occasionally. 

Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Heat oil; swirl to coat. Add tofu; sauté 8 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove tofu from pan; keep warm.

tofu cooking in a pan

Cook Your Veggies: Add 1 tsp coconut oil to the pan. Add shallots, bell pepper, and carrots – saute 5 minutes. Then add the zucchini and broccoli. Sauté vegetables another 5 minutes until cooked lightly.

broccoli and zucchini added to pan

Cook the Spices – The Base For The Curry Sauce: In a medium pot, add peanut butter, curry paste, cumin, coriander, and cayenne; cook 15 seconds.

spices cooking in a pan

Add Coconut Milk and Finish The Sauce: Add coconut milk, soy sauce, and sugar, stirring with a whisk until smooth.

coconut milk sauce in a pan

Let The Tofu Absorb The Flavors of the Sauce: Add tofu into the coconut curry sauce and simmer another 2-3 minutes.

tofu added to coconut milk in a pan

Combine Tofu Mixture and Veggies Together: Pour tofu and sauce into the pan with the veggies. Simmer 5 minutes until the veggies have soaked up the sauce.

veggies added to coconut milk in a pan

Garnish and Serve: Remove from heat and gently stir in lime juice. Serve with brown rice, and top with 1 tsp crushed peanuts per serving.

vegan panang curry in a black bowl with fresh herbs and rice

What Makes This Vegan Thai Panang Curry Healthy?

  • High in Protein and Fiber: Each serving of this curry has 17 grams of plant protein and almost 9 grams of heart healthy fiber! Protein and fiber work together to keep you fuller longer.
  • High in Vitamins and Minerals: This curry is packed with whole foods that are rich in nutrients. You’ll find Vitamins A, C, K, Folate, Calcium, B Vitamins, and antioxidants in this dish!

Recipe FAQs

Will kids enjoy this panang curry?

It may be a bit on the spicy side for kids that are sensitive to spicy foods. However, it’s super creamy and when served with rice that helps to cut some of the spice. Feel free to reduce the amount of cayenne pepper to make it more kid friendly.

What is the difference between panang curry and red curry?

Red curry is spicier with lots of red chilis added, whereas panang curry has a distinct nutty flavor from the added peanut butter, and crunch of chopped nuts. The flavor of panang curry is much milder than a traditional Thai red curry.

What does Panang mean in Thai?

The word Panang means “cross” in Thai. This dish is traditionally made from grilled chicken. It got its name from the way the chicken legs were crossed on the grill.

How do you serve this vegan panang curry?

There are many ways you can enjoy this curry! The most traditional way is to serve with rice. While jasmine rice is most common, I prefer to serve this dish with brown rice for the added nutrients and fiber. This dish tastes great on its own and has all the elements of a meal you need including protein, healthy fats, vegetables, and healthy grains. However, you may enjoy serving it with a light side salad with a cool and refreshing side. Or steamed green beans for more yummy vegetables.

How do you store and keep leftovers?

Allow the curry and the rice to cool completely. Store the rice and curry in two different air tight containers in the refrigerator. I will keep for 3- 4 days. You can also freeze this dish if you prefer. Allow it to cool, then place the curry in a freezer safe container. Label with contents and date. It will keep in the freezer for 2-3 months.

vegan panang curry in a black bowl with fresh herbs and rice

Top Tips for Making this Vegan Panang Curry Recipe with Tofu

  • Use a red curry sauce without added fish sauce to keep this recipe vegan.
  • Make your own vegan panang curry paste.
  • This recipe is also easy to make in the Instant Pot, to create a quick meal!
  • If you can’t find Kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil makes a good substitute.
  • If you haven’t been to an Asian grocery store, it’s a great place to pick up authentic ingredients to use in your Thai cooking. It will help create true authentic flavors! You can find fresh herbs, chili peppers, coriander root, and curry powder to name a few!
vegan panang curry in a black bowl with fresh herbs and rice

More Thai Recipes To Try!

If you have tried this Vegan Panang Curry recipe, or any other recipe on my blog, then please rate it and let me know how it turned out in the comments below! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious, healthy, family friendly food!

vegan panang curry in a black bowl with fresh herbs and rice
Print Recipe
5 from 4 votes

Vegan Panang Curry with Tofu

Sweet and crunchy peanut butter mixed with silky coconut milk for the curry – combined with firm tofu and fresh farmer’s market vegetables make this vegan panang curry recipe a comforting and tasty meal.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai, Vegan
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 400kcal
Author: Anjali Shah

Ingredients

  • 20 oz block extra firm tofu drained and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tbsp organic extra virgin coconut oil plus 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 3-4 tbsp thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • ⅛-¼ tsp cayenne pepper I used 1/4 tsp for a nice kick
  • 28 oz light coconut milk 2 cans
  • 3 tbsp lower sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 shallots diced
  • 2 bell peppers sliced
  • 2 zucchini quartered and sliced
  • 3 carrots sliced on a diagonal
  • 1 head broccoli cut into florets
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • dash of salt to taste
  • Cooked brown rice for serving
  • 1 tsp crushed peanuts per serving

Instructions

  • Place tofu on several layers of paper towels. Cover with additional paper towels. Let stand for 30 minutes, pressing down occasionally. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add tofu; sauté 8 minutes or until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove tofu from pan; keep warm.
  • Add 1 tsp coconut oil to the pan. Add shallots, bell pepper, and carrots – saute 5 minutes. Then add the zucchini and broccoli – saute another 5 minutes until cooked lightly.
  • In a medium pot, add peanut butter, curry paste, cumin, coriander, and cayenne; cook 15 seconds. Add coconut milk, soy sauce, and sugar, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add in tofu and simmer 2-3 minutes.
  • Pour tofu and sauce into the pan with the veggies. Simmer 5 minutes until the veggies have soaked up the sauce.
  • Remove from heat and gently stir in lime juice. Serve with brown rice, and top with 1 tsp crushed peanuts per serving.

Video

https://youtu.be/dMZnCBpImM8

Notes

Top Tips for Making this Vegan Panang Curry Recipe with Tofu
  • Use a red curry sauce without added fish sauce to keep this recipe vegan.
  • Make your own vegan panang curry paste.
  • This recipe is also easy to make in the Instant Pot, to create a quick meal!
  • If you can’t find Kaffir lime leaves, Thai basil makes a good substitute.
  • If you haven’t been to an Asian grocery store, it’s a great place to pick up authentic ingredients to use in your Thai cooking. It will help create true authentic flavors! You can find fresh herbs, chili peppers, coriander root, and curry powder to name a few!
Adapted from CookingLight

Nutrition

Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 43.5g | Protein: 16.9g | Fat: 18.1g | Saturated Fat: 9.1g | Sodium: 717mg | Fiber: 8.8g | Sugar: 6.6g

Posted In…

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