Spicy Carrot Coconut Curry

Carrots – it’s Bugs Bunny’s favourite food and one of the few vegetables that sits well with children. To cooks, they are essential flavour base for stews and soup. To me, it’s one of my to-go vegetables whenever I need to bulk up my stir-fries, noodles and fried rice.

Despite carrots are my everyday ingredient, I have to admit they rarely been given star treatment in a dish – likened to backing singers in stews and soup or wallflowers in proms to fill the gaps in my stir-fries.  Yes, we made carrot cakes but even with that, we grate them finely, concealing them in batter and distract ourselves further with finger-lickin’ good cream cheese frosting.  Oh sure, we  bake  baby carrots  and glaze them with maple syrup or honey but these are made to complement our roast chickens and turkeys, no?

So for a change, I like to see carrots going solo in a dish. That’s why I made this flavoursome and creamy Sri Lankan styled spicy carrot coconut curry to bring out the star quality of this root vegetable.  After all it’s the year of rabbit and I have to somehow pay homage to its favourite food.  Having said that, I don’t know how a rabbit would feel about curry carrots though! ;)

Spicy Carrot Coconut Curry

(adapted generously from Ceylon Cookery by Chandra Dissanayake)

Note: I have simplified the recipe based on what I have namly the curry leaves. If you have them on hand, feel free to add a couple of leaves while sauteing the onion and green chilli.

Prep time: 10  minutes

Cooking time:  20 minutes


  • 4 large carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 green chilli
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tsps chilli powder (adjust according to taste)
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tbsps oil
  • Salt to taste
  • A handful of fresh coriander – stalk part to be added into the curry and leaves for garnish


  • Peel, wash and cut carrots into 2 inched strips ( I cut a carrot into 4 parts. For each part, I sliced into half and each half I cut into 3 slices). Chop onions and a green chilli.
  • Add the sliced carrots with ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, salt and chilli powder in a mixing bowl. Mix well.

  • Heat oil until very hot in the pan. Add chopped onions and green chilli and saute until the onions are lightly brown.
  • Add carrot mixture and keep tossing for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add coconut milk and water. Bring to boil and simmer with a lid on until the carrots are tender. Just before the end of cooking time (when the carrots are quite tender), add the stalk part of the coriander into the curry.
  • Taste the curry if more salt is required. If the curry happens to be too salty, add some sugar (brown sugar is preferred) to balance the taste.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves and serve immediately. Best served with rice.

By the way, here’s how I stored the remaining coconut milk – a tip picked up from a dear friend. :)

Fill an ice cube tray with remaining coconut milk and store it in the freezer.  Once the coconut milk cubes are frozen, I sticked the tray in a zip lock bag to prevent the cubes from getting the “fridge smell”.

29 Responses to Spicy Carrot Coconut Curry
  1. meemsnyc
    February 8, 2011 | 7:43 am

    Oooh, this looks amazing! I love curry.

    • Emily
      February 8, 2011 | 7:52 am

      Thanks. I’m glad you’re not grossed out with all-carrot curry. I thought someone might, hehe! :P

  2. Natalie
    February 8, 2011 | 9:54 am

    I used to hate carrots but now I appreciate the mellow sweetness they give to lots of my dishes! Maybe it’s time to give them the starring role, this look like the perfect dish to do that, thanks!!

    • Emily
      February 8, 2011 | 11:34 am

      Hi Natalie! I love the natural sweetness from the carrots too and that’s why sometimes I don’t mind eat it straight as if it is a fruit, hehe! I hope you’ll enjoy the curry. :D

  3. Lindsay@cookveganlover
    February 8, 2011 | 11:17 am

    What a great recipe! It seems like this would be an inexpensive yet tasty and filling recipe!

    • Emily
      February 8, 2011 | 10:05 pm

      Hi Lindsay,

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I try to keep my grocery bill as low as possible and I feel makeing curry is one of the ways of achieving that goal. Plus curry has a lot of flavours and as long as you love spices as much as I do, you don’t feel like you’re being “deprived” while being frugal. :)

  4. Ilke
    February 8, 2011 | 1:39 pm

    I was kind of getting bored of making stews when I have all these carrots sitting in the fridge. Thanks for the recipe. Never used coconut milk, I will start with this dish hopefully:)

    • Emily
      February 8, 2011 | 10:01 pm

      Hi Ilke, it’s my pleasure. Hope you’ll enjoy the curry! :D

  5. veggietestkitchen
    February 8, 2011 | 4:17 pm

    I love carrots. Carrot cake is my favorite dessert!! this dish looks fantastic. thanks for sharing! cheers.

    • Emily
      February 8, 2011 | 9:58 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment. I love carrots too and it’s my pleasure to share. :)

  6. Tifa
    February 8, 2011 | 4:33 pm

    I’ve never cooked with coconut milk before. I want to make this recipe, but there are a ton of different kinds. Any tips on the right coconut milk to buy?

    <3 T

    • Emily
      February 8, 2011 | 9:49 pm

      Hi Tifa,
      As far as I know, there’s only 3 kinds – (i) coconut milk (watery kind); (ii) coconut cream (thick like double cream) (iii)powdered kind (I don’t like this kind so forget about this one, hehe). For this curry, I used coconut milk.

      Don’t hesitate to ask if you have further question. :)

  7. Fanny
    February 8, 2011 | 9:24 pm

    I will take your example and also try to make a curry with this lovely veggie as the star. Maybe I’ll just do yours, although I rarely have coriander at home.

    • Emily
      February 8, 2011 | 9:55 pm

      You can do without the coriander but I like to use coriander to spruce up the dish. Sometimes if I don’t have coriander in my curry, I like to make a simple onion salad which consist of a thinly sliced onion (any kind of onion is fine)left in lemon juice for a couple of minutes (keep the juice in the salad). Then add some honey (to balance the souriness), salt, olive oil and freshly ground black pepper.

  8. Gourmantine
    February 8, 2011 | 9:48 pm

    This looks so mouthwatering… I have just been thinking about a carrot salad and will definitely be making this!

    • Emily
      February 8, 2011 | 10:07 pm

      Carrot salad sounds good!! What about carrot salad with carrot curry? Sounds like too much carotene in the human system in one meal? haha!

  9. A little bit of everything
    February 9, 2011 | 4:37 am

    oh, this soup looks so elegant. love all the flavors. thanks for the recipe Emily
    have a wonderful Wednesday

    • Emily
      February 11, 2011 | 10:52 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment. Glad to find that you like the recipe. :)

  10. Jenné @ Sweet Potato Soul
    February 9, 2011 | 6:58 pm

    Looks delicious! I absolutely love carrots in curry. And thanks for sharing the tip on freezing coconut milk in an ice cube tray :)

    • Emily
      February 11, 2011 | 10:54 pm

      No worries. It helps if you want to make into Thai curries next time, which I had planned. :P

  11. laura
    February 9, 2011 | 7:49 pm

    love the use of carrots as the star ingredient! it’s already been added to my online cookbook, cookmarked.com

    • Emily
      February 11, 2011 | 10:56 pm

      Thanks Laura. Yeah carrots have been shadowing other ingredients for most of my dishes. It’s time for them to take the limelight and spread their sweetness around., hehe!

  12. Tiffany
    February 10, 2011 | 2:31 am

    I love it! Spicy and sweet from the carrots and coconut milk! YUM!!!

    • Emily
      February 11, 2011 | 10:57 pm

      Thanks Tiffany. I agree. They made pretty delicious combo. :D

  13. Lori
    March 10, 2011 | 5:59 pm

    I like to see carrots flying solo because to me they are an underrated vegetable. I use them all the time. I buy them in five pound bags because we go through them like crazy. Dipped in hummus, ranch dressing, mirapoix, with plum sauce. Love ‘em. I know I will try your dish.

  14. Michelle
    March 13, 2011 | 11:18 pm

    How many servings does this make? Two?


    • Emily
      March 14, 2011 | 8:12 am

      Hi Michelle,

      I would say two, generously. :)

  15. Brie
    March 15, 2011 | 2:51 am

    I just made this as it looks so good. I added only a teaspoon of chili pepper and it was still SO hot…like too hot (and I love spicy food) but I added the remaining coconut milk, some golden raisins, green peas and almonds. I can’t wait to eat it with some rice and a BIG dollop of cooling yogurt :)


  16. CHRISTMAS!!!! #2 « Cooking with Jenny
    December 29, 2012 | 12:04 am

    [...] Something spicy, with lots of vegetables in a sauce of some description. Google offered me this recipe when I searched for Carrot Curry, and I knew we had all the ingredients already (except carrots), [...]

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