Dinner Recipe: Coconut Cashew Curry

This was another new dinner for 2019, and it quickly became one of my favorite dinners. Here’s why:

  • Completely unique flavor profile among our 12-recipe repertoire;
  • Great variety of textures;
  • A hearty and filling portion; and,
  • Easy to increase the calorie count and density, like by adding olive oil or chunks of protein.

The original recipe used Green Cardamom, an aromatic spice that proved divisive. So it’s not included in this version, and it will be omitted on our 2020 trips.

Meal Stats

  • Weight per serving: 5.7 ounces
  • Calories per ounce: 113
  • Calories per serving: 644

Ingredients

The curry sauce calls for several tricky-to-find ingredients. Thankfully, like our Peanut Noodle sauce, the curry is so good that it’s worth making a big batch and keeping some in the fridge for easy at-home dinners.

Tamarind paste has a sweet-and-sour flavor and is derived from cooking down taramind pods. It’s easy to find online, and is often stocked in Latin American and Asian grocery markets. It’s not crucial, so if you can’t find it, skip it. But to make up for its absence, add a pinch of rice wine vinegar and sugar to the sauce.

Green curry paste is different from curry powder. The blend of ingredients varies by brand, but it’s generally a mixture of pulverized kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, and galangal root (related closely to ginger). Some brands have fish sauce or shrimp paste — if you’re vegetarian, check the label.

Dried chickpeas are becoming a popular snack in natural grocery stores. We purchase plain ones in bulk, but flavored varieties will work just fine. Buy only what you’ll need, because they’ll last only a few weeks after the package has been opened.

Other types of protein can be added to this dish. Consider:

  • Chicken (Dried, Pouch)
  • Tuna (Pouch)
  • Beef (Dehydrated, Freeze Dried)

The weight of ginger powder per serving 0.01 ounces, which won’t register on a postal or kitchen scale. It’s just a pinch.

At Home Preparation

For both soloists and groups, mix together all the dry ingredients, except:

  • On longer trips, separate the chickpeas so that they stay crunchy;
  • On group trips, separate the cashews, so that tree nut allergies can be accommodated.

Combine the curry paste and tamarind paste, and store it in a small 1- to 8-ounce HDPE bottle, depending on the amount. To retrieve all the sauce, which is marginally viscous, add purified water (hot, if it’s available) to the bottle and shake vigorously. We’ve also used 8-ounce plastic “take-out” containers, which were easier to access but less leak-proof.

The curry sauce. It’s packed with flavor.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Bring about 12 ounces of water to a boil
  2. Add the dry ingredients, curry sauce, and cashews (so everything but the chickpeas).
  3. Return to boil, then remove from heat and let soak for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft.
  4. Once everything is re-hydrated, add the chickpeas.
Finished Curry Dish

Have questions about or an experience with this meal? Leave a comment.


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8 Comments

  1. Seajack on December 12, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    I bought dried garbanzo beans and tried snacking them after I arrived home…like chewing rocks!
    Where did I go astray?

    • Andrew Skurka on December 12, 2019 at 8:33 pm

      Like, you bought raw beans? Like, the ones you have to boil for hours in order to soften them up?

      The chickpeas used in this recipe are the snacking variety. They’ll come in a colorful bag probably, maybe 4 to 6 ounces.

  2. Michelle on December 30, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Greetings! I would love to adapt this recipe for freezer bag cooking. I am dehydrating garbanzo beans (cut in half so they rehydrate better). What do you think of dehydrating Tamarind paste and, maybe the Green Curry Paste as well? You comment that you don’t recommend curry powder, but I have found a green curry powder on line. The other ingredients are covered. I’d appreciate your input, thx.

    • David Bisenius on December 31, 2019 at 12:32 am

      I wouldn’t recommend dehydrating the ingredients further than the concentrated pastes, for a few reasons. Dehydrating the Tamarind will turn it into a brittle, crystalline substance akin to a candy that won’t dissolve easily. It also runs the risk of scorching easily, which will yield a bitter flavor. The green curry powder isn’t recommended because the flavor is in the aromas, and those are very volatile compounds that will be lost from dehydrating. Green Curry Powder often tastes slightly grassy and bitter, almost like a green tea mix. It doesn’t have the impact of the fresh paste. It wouldn’t ruin the dish per-se, but it won’t be thrilling either. The weight of the ingredients is trivial in comparison to how much flavor is lost from trying to dehydrate out a few extra tenths of a gram of water weight.

      • Michelle on December 31, 2019 at 4:10 pm

        Thanks for your excellent insight! I will consider it.

  3. Glenn on January 3, 2020 at 8:11 am

    How long does the curry paste (‘wet’ ingredients) keep on the trail, unrefrigerated? Thanks!

  4. Louise on July 26, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    Excellent recipe and so easy! It’s pretty soupy so I cut back on the water the second time I made it. The tamarind/green curry paste combo makes this delicious.

  5. Carmen on September 11, 2020 at 11:00 pm

    Sounds delicious!
    My backpacking trips are usually between 20 – 30 days in length. Have you found the curry and tamarind pastes to last that long un-refrigerated?

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