Green Coconut Masala


This was one of the first dishes I learned how to make, and to this day it is one of my all-time favorites and most beloved by my friends and family.  My best friend growing up was from Pakistan, and lucky for us her mother used to make this spicy green masala on a regular basis. Lucky for me I was considered their adopted daughter since I basically lived in their house through my high school years, so I got to eat a lot of this, along with all of her mother’s other amazing Pakistani specialties.

One day my friend and I decided to get the exact recipe so we could make it ourselves when we went away to college. We got a pad of paper and pen and hovered over her mother while she cooked (luckily she let us!), writing down everything as she added each ingredient, making sure not to miss a single spice…or secret.  To our surprise, it was much simpler to prepare than we had imagined, and what makes it so unique and tasty is its cilantro base. The original dish was far from vegan, made with chicken and yogurt, but over the years I’ve experimented and created what I believe to be the ideal vegan version.

In my friend’s house this was always served with roti, which is an Indian flat bread similar to a Mexican tortilla–and that’s exactly what they used, Mission brand tortillas.

For picky kids–i.e., my kids–you can just blend this up so the zucchini and chickpeas are hidden. I usually serve to my kids with a side of rice or millet (or any other grain) as well.

Prior to having kids, I would make this super spicy, adding in jalapeños in the first step along with the onions, garlic and ginger. Now, I just add in fresh jalapeños (or serranos) at the very end for my husband and myself.


  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped in large pieces
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, chopped in large pieces
  • 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and chopped in large pieces
  • 1-2 jalapeños (or Serrano if you really like spice), chopped*
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (or if making for kids, 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1 large bunch of cilantro, washed well, ends chopped off
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2-3 zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1-2 cans chickpeas, or make from scratch
  • Juice of 1-2 limes


  1. Heat oil in a large sauce pan or pot over medium heat.  When hot, add onion, garlic, ginger and chili peppers (if using) and cook, stirring frequently, for a couple of minutes.
  2. Add turmeric, coriander, cumin, salt, and pepper, and stir well to coat. Cook, stirring frequently, a couple of minutes longer.
  3. Remove from heat and slightly cool.
  4. Add mixture to blender along with the cilantro and two cups of vegetable broth.  Blend until smooth.**
  5. Transfer mixture back to the same pan and add up to one additional cup of vegetable broth.***
  6. Add in chickpeas, bring to a boil and then lower heat to low so that the masala is just simmering.
  7. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, and then add chopped zucchini.
  8. Cover again and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes, until the curry is a dark green color and the zucchini is well cooked.  
  9. Add in coconut milk and cook an additional five minutes or so, covered.
  10. Finish with a squeeze of lime and serve with roti!


  • * Chilis vary in spiciness so taste them to know how spicy they are before using.  Two spicy chilis will make this dish very, very hot!  
  • ** The consistency of this masala is supposed to be pretty watery, but it is really a matter of preference.  Add more or less broth depending on what you like.  It will thicken a little after cooking for a while, but not very much.
  • ***I love using Better than Bouillon base, it goes much farther than buying big cartons of ready-made vegetable broth. It’s available at Target, Whole Foods and I’m sure lots of other stores.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I LOVE your images! This one is super!


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