Massaman Curry

One of these days I'll get some category listings on here... the way things have been going, it seems like maybe I'll only need two categories: Thai and not Thai.

This weekend, I took a great suggestion from my dad and tried my hand at Massaman Curry. As I usually do when attempting a new dish, I consulted a variety of recipes and figured out the common ingredients, and then made my own variation.

I am DEFINITELY making this again. However, next time I'm going to make my own curry paste. I would have done so this time, but i still haven't gotten around to getting a mortar and pestle, so I just bought some pre-made stuff.

As suggested by many of the recipes, I also made some fragrant rice and Ajaat. Ajaat is a really nice salad on its own, but as complement to the massaman curry, it is simply perfect. (This is a ridiculously rich curry, so the light salad works really well to balance it out.)

I'm not going to bother retyping the the recipe for Ajaat because I just used a recipe that i found over at realthairecipes.com, which I would highly recommend to anyone with a desire to learn some good Thai recipes. The only thing i will say about the Ajaat is to prepare it at least 2-3 hours before you plan to serve it. Here are some pictures of my Ajaat; I wish I would have had some red chilis to round out the color, but it was delicious nonetheless. There's always next time, right?

No idea why i didn't use my new mandoline for this. Habit i guess.
shallots, water, sugar, salt, vinegar

Ok, now that that's out of the way, let's get to the Massaman!

4-5 Tbsp. Massaman curry paste
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil  (peanut oil might be a good choice too)
1 lb. beef
2 medium white potatoes
1 medium yellow onion
handful of roasted peanuts
1 cup coconut cream
2 cans coconut milk
3-4 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamom pods
palm sugar (to taste)
fish sauce (to taste)
tamarind paste (to taste)

Start by heating up one of the cans of coconut milk in a medium pan over low heat.

Dice the beef into bite-sized chunks and simmer in the coconut milk over low heat for half an hour. While this is going on, cut the potatoes and onions into bite sized pieces as well.

Over medium-high heat, fry the curry paste until it is fragrant (3-5 minutes). Stir very frequently so it doesn't burn.

Now add the thick white part of the coconut cream and mix it into the curry paste thoroughly.  
Discard the clear watery portion of the coconut cream (or save for some other use). Now strain the beef and discard the coconut milk that it was simmered in. Add the beef, stir well, and simmer for another 3 minutes or so.

Add the potatoes, onion, and peanuts.

Add the other can of coconut milk, stir well, and simmer for a few more minutes.

Add the cinnamon, cardamom, and bay leaves (actually supposed to use cassia leaves, but i haven't been able to track any down yet).

Simmer for another 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind paste to taste.  I used about two tablespoons each of fish sauce and tamarind paste, and a tablespoon or so of palm sugar.  Mix well and serve.

At some point in this process (depending on how you like to cook rice), prepare some fragrant rice.  Jasmine rice with saffron pictured.

Serve over rice with a nice portion of Ajaat alongside.

Coconut Milk

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