This authentic Vegan Panang Curry with Tofu and Vegetables is rich and creamy with a balance of sweet and spicy flavors, and so easy to make in under 30 minutes. This vegetarian and gluten-free Thai curry served with jasmine rice is a hit with the whole family.

 Vegan Panang Curry Tofu and Vegetables served with rice

I had never eaten Thai food growing up in India. But when I came to the US, the closest food that I could find to the Indian food taste was Thai food.  Thai curries became my favorite instantly – panang curry,  red curry, or green curry with perfect jasmine rice.  

After some years of eating Thai food only in restaurants, I discovered how quick and easy they were to make at home.  It is basically a quick one-pot meal.  

My version of Thai Panang Curry is vegetarian. It is healthy, as it is loaded with veggies & tofu.

You guys…this is a satisfying, easy weeknight meal. And the best part it takes less than 30 minutes to make this curry and have an exotic meal at home.

Vegetarian Thai  Panang Curry served with jasmine rice

What is Panang Curry?

Panang Curry (also spelled Phanaeng) is a rich, creamy curry that has both sweet and spicy flavors, with the addition of peanuts and coconut milk. This curry has wonderful, bold flavors that tickle your taste buds.

Panang curry comes from Thailand, from the island of Penang. This is one of the popular curries similar to red curry.

Typically Panang curry is made with meat – pork, beef, or chicken – cooked with the Panang paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, and basil leaves.

However, here I am sharing a vegan version made with firm tofu and lots of colorful vegetables. Use a vegan curry paste, along with soy sauce (Tamari for gluten-free).

delicious Panang Curry with tofu and vegetables garnished with Thai Basil Leaves

Panang Curry Paste

I used the below Maesri paste from the Asian market. You can also order it on Amazon. I find this one to have the wonderful authentic flavors you get at Thai restaurants. 

This paste is vegan and gluten-free. Most of the other Thai curry pastes contain shrimp. So if you are a vegetarian, I suggest to always check the ingredients. Another vegetarian option is Aroy-D brand curry paste.

To amp up the flavor even more when using store-bought curry paste, you can sauté some ginger and garlic in oil along with the paste.

collage image of sealed and opened panang curry paste

Of course, if you like, you can make curry paste at home too. It has lots of wonderful ingredients such as red chili peppers, galangal, lemongrass, Kaffir Lime, shallots, coriander, garlic, peanuts, and more.

Ingredients

This recipe has basic ingredients that you will need for most Thai curries. I would suggest making a trip to the Asian grocery store in your area to them.

Panang Curry Paste

Coconut Milk: Use a brand with thick coconut milk, such as Chakoh.

Peanut Butter: Use smooth peanut butter in this recipe. It gives the perfect peanut taste to the curry. I added 1 tablespoon, but peanut lovers, feel free to increase it to 2 tablespoons.

Brown Sugar: This helps to balance the flavors of this spicy curry.

Soy Sauce or Tamari: This replaces the fish sauce the authentic recipe calls for. Use Tamari to keep the recipe gluten-free.

Kaffir Lime Leaves: These can be hard to find sometimes. I could not find them at the Asian store too, so I ordered dried lime leaves from Amazon. If you ever find fresh leaves, get them and freeze them (they retain the flavor even if they turn darker in color).

Crush the leaves a little to release their juices. These leaves have a hard membrane, so you can remove them after cooking or eating around them.

If you can’t find kaffir lime leaves, use extra lime zest and juice.

Thai Basil Leaves: I love to garnish the curry with lots of Thai Basil Leaves. If you don’t have them, use regular basil leaves or cilantro.

Tofu: Use extra firm tofu in this curry. Press the tofu to remove any extra water, then dab with a paper towel and cut into pieces. You can use the tofu as is or lightly saute, bake, or air fry it.

Bell Pepper: I love to add colorful bell peppers to this curry. They make it look so pretty.

Broccoli, Zucchini, or other quick-cooking veggies: You can add any quick-cooking veggies of choice to this curry. I added broccoli and zucchini. Some other options are – mushrooms, green beans, baby corn, and snap peas. If you add carrots, cook them a little before adding other veggies.

Lime: A little lime juice at the end really does wonders for the complex flavors in this curry.

Ingredients to make vegan panang curry with tofu and vegetables

How to Make?

  • Press the tofu to remove excess water. Cut it into pieces and keep it aside. If you prefer, you can bake or air fryer it. 
  • Heat a large pot in sauté mode. Add oil, and then add the panang curry paste. Mix well. 
  • Add ½ a can of coconut milk. Stir well so the paste is completely mixed with the coconut milk. Then add the remaining coconut milk, peanut butter, brown sugar, and soy sauce and stir well. 
How to make Panang Curry steps
  • Add the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, broccoli, zucchini, and Thai lime leaves. Bring to a complete boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender. 
  • Add the tofu pieces and half of the Thai Basil leaves and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Add lime juice. Taste and add salt if needed. Garnish with the remaining basil leaves and crushed peanuts. Panang Curry is ready to be enjoyed over jasmine rice.
Steps to make vegetarian Panang Curry with tofu and veggies

Serve this delicious panang curry with jasmine rice. I like to make jasmine rice in an instant pot.

Instant Pot Panang Curry Tofu served in a bowl with jasmine rice

Can I make Panang Curry in the Instant Pot?

You can make this Panang Curry in the instant pot too. I recommend only using the sauté setting in the instant pot and not pressure cooking this curry.

Pro-Tips

Spicy? Start with lesser panang curry paste, 2-3 tablespoons, and add more based on your spice preference.

Rice: While you are cooking the curry, don’t forget to first also put the jasmine rice to cook. You can also serve Thai tofu curry with quinoa or brown rice.

Basil: Garnish with lots of Thai Basil Leaves.

Consistency: This curry gets thicker as it cools. Add 1/2 to 1 cup water or broth to get a thinner consistency.

Common Questions

How is Panang curry different than red curry?

Panang Curry is a type of Thai red curry. Panang curry contains ground peanuts which the typical red curry does not have. It is also a bit sweeter and milder compared to other Thai curries.

How to store Panang Curry?

You can store this curry in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. The curry thickens as it cools. Add a little water, and reheat in the microwave.

Vegan Thai Panang Curry Tofu in a bowl served with jasmine rice

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4.87 from 23 votes

Vegan Panang Curry with Tofu & Vegetables

This authentic Vegan Panang Curry with Tofu and Vegetables is rich and creamy with a balance of sweet and spicy flavors, and so easy to make in under 30 minutes. This vegetarian and gluten-free Thai curry served with jasmine rice is a hit with the whole family.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients 

  • 14 ounces Tofu Extra Firm
  • 1 tablespoon Oil
  • 3-4 tablespoon Panang Curry Paste, adjust amount based on spice preference
  • 1 can Coconut Milk, 14oz
  • 1 tablespoon Peanut Butter
  • 1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Soy Sauce , or Tamari for gluten-free
  • 8-10 Kaffir Lime leaves, crush to release oil
  • 1 cup Green Bell Pepper, seeds removed and cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1 cup Red Bell Pepper , seeds removed and cut into 1 inch squares
  • 1 cup Broccoli , cut into florets
  • 1 cup Zucchini, slit in half and sliced, optional
  • 12-15 Thai Basil Leaves
  • 1 tablespoon Lime juice
  • Peanuts , crushed, to garnish

Instructions 

  • Press the tofu to remove excess water. Cut it into pieces and keep aside. If you prefer, you can sauté, bake or air fryer it.
  • Heat a medium pot on medium-high heat. Add oil and then add the panang curry paste. Stir it.
  • Add 1/2 can of coconut milk. Stir well, so that the paste is completely mixed with the coconut milk. Then add the remaining coconut milk, peanut butter, brown sugar, soy sauce and stir well.
  • Add the red bell pepper, green bell pepper, broccoli, zucchini and kaffir lime leaves. Bring to a complete boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until the vegetables are slightly tender.
  • Add the tofu pieces, and half of the Thai Basil leaves and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  • Add lime juice. Taste and add salt if needed. Garnish with the remaining basil leaves, and crushed peanuts. Panang Curry is ready to be enjoyed over jasmine rice.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Store: You can store this curry in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. The curry thickens as it cools. Add a little water, and reheat in the microwave.
Spicy? Start with lesser panang curry paste, 2-3 tablespoons and add more based on your spice preference.
Consistency: This curry gets thicker as it cools. Add 1/2 to 1 cup water or broth to get a thinner consistency.

Nutrition

Calories: 361kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 13gFat: 29gSaturated Fat: 20gPolyunsaturated Fat: 3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 610mgPotassium: 716mgFiber: 3gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 3345IUVitamin C: 107mgCalcium: 94mgIron: 6mg

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai
Diet: Gluten-free, Vegan
Tried this recipe?Mention @pipingpotcurry or tag #pipingpotcurry!

About Meeta

I strongly believe that each one of us has a chef inside us, we just need to explore the ingredients and create great food. My passion is to share easy, healthy, and wholesome recipes made using Instant Pot & Air Fryer, that are well tested, so you can cook with confidence.

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19 Comments

  1. Meeta – I love your website and look forward to trying this Panang Curry recipe. I looked up a source for Chaokoh Coconut milk and ran across some disturbing info about this company, and coconut milk companies across Thailand using forced monkey labor under dire conditions many retailers, including Trader Joe’s, Costco and Walmart have stopped selling the product. Even though this is a recipe for THAI curry, I hope you will reconsider suggesting this company’s and Thai coconut products in general on your website.
    https://www.peta.org/living/food/coconut-brands-no-forced-monkey-labor/
    With gratitude for all you do for delicious healthy eating, Linda

  2. I’ve tried a ton of panang recipes and hands down this is the best one I’ve ever made. So similar to what I love in restaurants! Will be a staple in my kitchen for sure

    1. Hi Jamie – That’s fantastic to hear! I’m glad you found a panang recipe that matches the restaurant flavors you love. Enjoy your delicious meals! 😊

  3. Where can I find kaffir lime leaves? If I can’t find them, can I use lime zest instead? Where can I find thai basil leaves? If I can’t find them, can I use regular basil instead? I guess I’ll order the Panang curry from Amazon because I can’t find any in our regular or Asian grocery stores!

    1. Hi Eva – The thai basil leaves and kaffir lime leaves are often available at asian grocery stores in our area. However, if you cannot find the lime leaves, you can order dried ones from amazon – https://amzn.to/45CcYJm
      For thai basil, substitute with regular basil leaves if you cant find them.
      I hope you enjoy the panang curry.

    1. Hi Ashley – Ideally, I would love to use fresh leaves. However, they are not always easy to find in stores. Hence I have used dried leaves here.

  4. I have tried Thai curry recipes from other blogs, but this is the best Panang curry recipe. So easy and perfect. Not going to order this one at the restaurant any more!

  5. Hi Meeta,

    For clarification, do I need to put it in manual mode for 3 to 4 minutes? If so did you Quick release or natural release after cooking. Please reply. Thank you for this website and sharing your recipes.

    1. Hey Vidya – For this panang curry with tofu, I don’t do pressure cooking. Just make it on sauté mode. I hope you enjoy it!

  6. Help! I so want to make Penang curry but the prepared paste is very,very high in salt. Can you tell me how to prepare without using a commercial paste? Thank you

    1. Thanks for checking the blog. That is a good point with commercial panang paste. I have not tried preparing the paste myself yet. I will try it out. I do see other blogs that prepare the paste from scratch, you could try those.

    1. Hi Neena – No I have not tried paneer in this recipe. However I have tried adding coconut milk to mutter paneer recipe. You can add more coconut milk in the mutter paneer recipe to get a thinner consistency like panang curry. Let me know how it goes 🙂