Vegetarian Malaysian Laksa

I made this dish right after the holidays to help make up for some of those less than healthy meal choices we ate between Thanksgiving and New Years.  This is an immensely flavorful vegetarian dish guaranteed to restore your body’s antioxidants, beta-carotene, potassium, and vitamins A and C.

If you haven’t had Malaysian food before, prepare your taste-buds for a treat.  Authentic characteristic in traditional Malay cuisine is first and foremost the generous use of spices closely followed by coconut milk which gives Malay dishes their rich, creamy flavor.

Roasting the vegetables in the oven, especially the beets and carrots is a good choice here because it deepens their flavor and enhances their sweetness.  And depending on your heat tolerance, you can control the spice level by adding/reducing the amount of Sambal Olek in the paste.  You can also easily convert this recipe to be eaten as a main dish with less broth or as a soup with more broth.   Both ways are rich, flavorful, and delicious.


For the laksa spice paste:
2 stalks fresh or 2 tablespoons prepared lemongrass
4 shallots roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
1 cup water
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons Sambal Olek Chili sauce
3 tablespoons raw cashews
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric

For the vegetables:
2 large carrots peeled cut into 1-inch slices
1 cup zucchini cut into 1-inch slices
1 cup butternut squash, peeled and diced in 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh beets, peeled and diced in 1-inch pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Ground paprika

For the broth:
3 cups vegetable broth
3 cups sweetened coconut milk
1 cup laksa spice paste

1 package pad thai or udon noodles
1 avocado, pitted and chopped
1 lime, thinly sliced
Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish


For the spice paste:
1) Place all the items in a food processor and process until smooth.

2) Transfer the paste to a small saucepan over medium heat and cook for 8 to 10 minutes until fragrant.

3) Remove the pan from the heat and allow the paste to cool.

For the vegetables:
1) Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2) Place the beets, carrots, squash, and zucchini in a bowl and drizzle the olive oil on top. Stir to coat the vegetables on all sides.

3) Transfer the vegetables to the baking sheet and season them with salt, pepper, and paprika. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake the vegetables for 30-40 minutes until the vegetables are fork tender.

4) Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the vegetables to cool slightly.

For the broth:
1) In a deep soup pot, combine the broth, coconut milk, and spice paste. Cook over medium-high heat until it comes to a low boil.

To serve:

1) Prepare the noodles according to their package directions and drain the water.

2) Portion the noodles into deep soup bowl, followed by the vegetables, and the broth. Garnish with the avocado, cilantro, and lime.

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