Last night, I wanted massaman curry and I wanted it bad. I love making Thai curries, but I do it the fast way, using curry paste. I love red curry with chicken and pineapple, or green with zucchini and tofu. My local grocery doesn’t stock massaman. My local Thai restaurant is run by great people, but I feel they don’t cook their curries long enough – crunchy potatoes or pumpkins kind of ruin the experience. Homemade is better. Especially since curries take under 30 minutes to make!
So, armed with red curry paste, Google, and blind faith, I hacked a massaman curry recipe that turned out shockingly well. The leap of faith was adding the spices listed in massaman recipes. It didn’t seem like they could be combined in a way that would taste good. Cardamom and cinnamon are for desserts, right? I associate cumin with Mexican food, although it is key to most Indian dishes. Massaman means Muslim, did you know? Massaman curry comes from Muslim people moving from India into Thailand and bringing their tastes in food with them. Turns out you can’t confine a spice to one type of cooking without missing out on some true deliciousness. America, there’s a lesson here.
The picture isn’t pretty (get used to it). But the taste was fucking awesome.
Massaman Curry Made with Red Curry Paste and Extra Spices
I wrote in measurements, but really, I just eyeball amounts. Use your judgement and taste!
Thai curry basics:
Red curry paste – store bought. 1 tablespoon.
Coconut milk – 1 can. full fat, always
Broth or water (cooking the potatoes reduces the liquid, otherwise I don’t normally add extra liquid to my curries)
Additions to make the red curry taste like massuman:
Cinnamon – 1/2 tsp
Cardamom – 1/4 tsp
Tumeric – 1 tsp, or more
Cumin – 1/4 tsp
Peanut butter – 1 tablespoon. natural chunky.
The main ingredients:
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
Waxy potatoes – the smaller the pieces, the faster they cook. About a cup and a half, total.
A carrot, sliced thin
Protein of choice – I used pre-cut stew meat. 1/2 pound or so.
Lime juice – half a lime
Brown sugar – teaspoon
Fish sauce – tablespoon
Cook the curry paste, onion and additional spices over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet till the aroma is released and the onions are coated with spices. Add coconut milk a bit at a time and simmer, stirring to mix well. Add the peanut butter. When it is all stirred together, add the potatoes and a little broth or water. The potatoes should be submerged. Simmer until the potatoes are nearly cooked – 5-10 min, depending on size – and add carrot and protein. Simmer until everything is cooked through. Stir and sip some wine. Add a little brown sugar, fish sauce and a squeeze of lime. Stir.
Serve with Thai jasmine rice. YUM.