White Hot

Color is a critical indicator for how we approach food.

Color Psychology in Food

  • Green typically signals vitamins and nutrients, a healthy choice, and possibly grassy flavors.
  • Red often tells us what we’re about to eat is sweet, or ripe and rich in umami.
  • White, perceived as the absence of color, suggests a lack of taste altogether.

Bland, boring, devoid of notable nutritional value, white fails to elicit the same sort of instant hunger that a bold, brilliantly colored dish can.

Such a shame for what is actually a reflection of every color in the spectrum. White is the ultimate shapeshifter, concealing a world of different spices. That’s why curry, found in every brilliant hue under the sun, is a particularly dangerous dish to cloak in bright white.

Consider this recipe your newest painful pleasure. Introducing, curry of another color.

What Is White Curry?

Creamy coconut milk is a common base for curry, smoothing out the harsh edges of hot spices with a rich and cooling finish. Most are tinted with yellow turmeric, and/or red or green chilies, but there’s more than one way to add a fiery bite to your food. My unconventional white curry uses pale Hungarian wax peppers to bring the heat, along with tiny but mighty bird’s eye chilies, small enough to disappear into the stew without any visual impact. From there, only white vegetables and plant protein join the party. White button mushrooms add umami richness and Asian pears contribute a subtle sweetness that’s essential to the nuanced, balanced flavor profile, but there’s plenty of room for adaptation.

Ideas For Additions

Make this recipe your own and try all sorts of different vegetables instead! Think there aren’t enough white produce picks to keep things exciting? Think again. Consider the following:

  • Jicama
  • Potatoes
  • Daikon
  • Parsnips
  • Cabbage
  • Fennel
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lotus root
  • White corn
  • Navy or cannelini beans
  • White asparagus
  • Hearts of palm

Don’t count the “lack” of color on this dish as a red flag. The amount of heat concealed in that creamy sauce could set off alarm bells for the unprepared. Don’t forget to serve with plenty of white rice to soak it all in!

Yield: Makes 3 - 4 Servings

White Curry

White Curry

Don't judge a curry by its color; this blend is white hot! Enjoy plant-based protein and vegetables in a creamy, spicy sauce with a kick.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes


  • 2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
  • 2 Small Shallots or 1 Medium White Onion, Diced
  • 3 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 1-Inch Fresh Ginger, Peeled and Minced
  • 1 Stalk Lemongrass, White Part Only, Very Finely Minced
  • 1 - 2 Bird's Eye Chilies, Finely Minced
  • 8 Ounces Button Mushrooms, Sliced
  • 2 Cups Cauliflower Florets
  • 1 Hungarian Wax Pepper, Seeded and Diced
  • 1 Asian Pear, Peeled, Cored, and Diced
  • 1 Can Sliced Water Chestnuts, Drained
  • 1 Pound Firm Tofu, Diced
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground White Pepper
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Ground Fenugreek
  • 1/2 - 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 (13.5-Ounce) Can Full-Fat Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 Cup Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Lemon or Lime Juice
  • 1/4 Cup Plain, Unsweetened Vegan Yogurt
  • Cooked White Rice, To Serve (Optional)


  1. Set a large saucepan over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Once melted, add the shallot or onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute for 5 - 6 minutes, until aromatic and lightly golden around the edges. Incorporate the lemongrass and bird's eye chilies along with the mushrooms, stirring well.

  2. Cook for another 6 - 8 minutes until the mushrooms have softened. Add the cauliflower, wax pepper, pear, water chestnuts, and tofu, stirring gently to avoid smashing the tofu. Season with white pepper, fenugreek, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Saute for another 2 minutes to bring out the full flavor of the spices.

  3. Pour in the coconut milk, water, and lemon or lime juice; the vegetables should be submerged in the liquid. Cover the pot with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 15 - 20 minutes, until the vegetables are fork-tender.

  4. Remove from the heat and gently stir in the yogurt. Add more salt to taste, if needed. Serve hot, alongside cooked rice.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 493Total Fat: 27gSaturated Fat: 18gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 3mgSodium: 604mgCarbohydrates: 51gFiber: 8gSugar: 15gProtein: 22g

All nutritional information presented within this site are intended for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and any nutritional information on BitterSweetBlog.com should only be used as a general guideline. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information will be completely accurate. Even though I try to provide accurate nutritional information to the best of my ability, these figures should still be considered estimations.

7 thoughts on “White Hot

  1. This white curry is really unique. You are right! The eyes think white and mild. However, this dish would change up the eye to brain connection forever with the delicious heat from the Hungarian and hot peppers.

  2. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on color psychology in food. Your white curry recipe sounds intriguing and honestly pretty (love the colours). I appreciate how you highlight the versatility of white vegetables and plant protein. I look forward to trying it out and experimenting with different vegetables as you suggested.

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