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Keep This Curry Base in Your Freezer and Dinner Is Always Almost Ready

Bon Appétit logo Bon Appétit 9/19/2021 Antara Sinha
a close up of a bowl © Photo by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Anne Eastman

In the warmer months, I can easily get away with spending the weekend doing nothing more than prepping fresh summer produce for icy breakfast smoothies, sturdy salads, and speedy crisp-tender stir-fries to get me through a week of meals. As the weather turns cooler, however, it’s understandable that the crunch of raw veggies for every meal of the day is less appealing, and the craving for slow-simmered soups, long braises, and comforting stews sets in. As we’re slowly transitioning into fall, chef Meherwan Irani’s stellar All-Purpose Coconut Curry Base is becoming my go-to meal-prep strategy for a week’s worth of warming, hearty, flavorful dinners that have all of the comfort of a painstakingly simmered sauce with a fraction of the effort.

All-Purpose Coconut Curry

a bunch of food sitting on a table © Photo by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Anne Eastman

The base itself relies on some basic pantry staples (coconut milk, crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth), and a few spices worth the extra effort of seeking out. Citrusy, peppery curry leaves and deeply savory, funky asafetida, though optional, give this versatile curry it’s depth—I highly recommend a trip to a South Asian grocer to stock up. The best part: The base freezes well, so taking the time to make a double (or triple, if you’re feeding more than one!) batch of the curry on a weekend, letting it cool to room temperature, and then freezing it in preportioned freezer trays or deli containers means you have the option of a warming, hearty curry, soup, or stew any time the craving hits.

Fish Curry

a bowl of food © Photo by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Anne Eastman

As far as versatility goes, you’re only limited by what protein and veggies you have on hand—more reason to keep your freezer stocked. My personal favorite: Irani’s Fish Curry, where prep is as simple as a speedy sear on some whitefish (I chose cod) and then dropping the cubed pieces into the gently simmering curry base where it cooks to flaky, flavor-packed perfection. A quick pot of basmati rice and a fresh squeeze of lime juice, and it’s become a fragrant, comforting meal I have on rotation.

Butternut Squash and Green Bean Stew

a bowl of food on a table © Photo by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Anne Eastman

Butternut Squash and Bean Stew is a tasty Meatless Monday option—and a fantastic way to use that autumn farmers market bounty—and is especially hearty over grains such as farro or wild rice, or quinoa or couscous if you’re looking for a quicker cooking option. And Irani’s Yellow Chicken Curry With Vegetables is especially tasty sopped up by naan or pita. Frozen shrimp, cubed and pan-fried tofu, or any assortment of those back-of-the-fridge veggies you’re trying to put to good use would all work seamlessly in this endlessly customizable and versatile curry. Staring into the depths of your fridge to cobble a meal together after a hectic weekday is daunting, but keeping your freezer stocked up with this versatile curry base makes a share-worthy, comforting meal attainable any night.

Yellow Curry Chicken With Vegetables

a plate of food on a table © Photo by Isa Zapata, Food Styling by Pearl Jones, Prop Styling by Anne Eastman
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