Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thai Massaman Curry

Gaeng matsaman as it is traditionally known is a hearty Southern Thai curry with heavy Indian influence. Massaman is an old way of saying Muslim. Like Indian curries, Massaman is heavy on dry spices and very aromatic, thus the name comes from the abundance of warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg that were transported to Thailand by the early Muslim traders. Along with the dry spices, lemongrass, fish sauce, galangal and kaffir lime leaves - classic Thai ingredients, this curry brims with all the flavour and richness of Asian cuisines.

As with most curries, Masaman sits very well and develops complexity and depth with time, is deliciously aromatic and best served with jasmine rice to absorb all that luscious gravy.

For the Curry Paste

Total time: 10 minutes

Ingredients: 3 shallots, sliced; 5 cloves garlic, peeled; 2 red chillies (de-seeded, or leave seeds in a spicer curry); 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), peeled and sliced; 2 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves and bulb removed, then sliced thinly (save upper stems to throw into the pot ); 2 kaffir lime leaves (available at Asian grocers - usually in the freezer); 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds, ground (grind them yourself in a coffee grinder, or use a pestle & mortar) ; 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds, ground (grind them the same way as the coriander); 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, preferably ground from whole nutmeg; 1/2 tsp. cinnamon; 1/4 tsp. ground cloves; 1 tsp. ground cardamon; 2 Tbsp. fish sauce; 1 tsp. shrimp paste; Additional fish sauce, to taste (add fish sauce instead of salt)

Method: Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process well. Curry paste can be stored in a sealed container, refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

Serves 2
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

Ingredients: 3 tblsp vegetable oil; 400g beef cubed; 4 tblsp massaman curry paste; 1 cup coconut milk (or more if you like it creamier and less spicy); 4 cardamom pods; 2 bay leaves; 1" piece of cinnamon stick; 1 tblsp palm sugar or 2 tbsp sugar; ½ tbslp salt; 2 tblsp fish sauce; 2 tblsp tamarind paste; 1 cup white potatoes, cubed; 1 cup onions, chopped or peeled whole shallot;
Method: In a hot pan, fry the beef until completely sealed and browned. Remove and set aside for later. Add the oil to the pan and turn on to medium high. Fry 4 tblsp paste until fragrant in a pot over medium to low heat for about 3-4 minutes. Stir it constantly to keep the mixture from sticking and burning. Add the coconut milk, and break up the paste and combining it well. When you see the red oil bubbling up (about 5 minutes), add the browned beef and stir to cover the meat with curry. Add half a cup of water or enough to cover all the meat. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for potatoes, and onion, stew for 30-40 minutes or until beef is getting very tender. Then add potatoes, onion and lemongrass stalk remaining from the curry paste. Let it simmer for 20 minutes more. The liquid should be reduced and you should be able to see some chunks. But, if the liquid is very low, add more water.
If you love Thai food, try my Chicken Tom Kha
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