The word Massaman means “Muslim” named after the Muslim traders who brought spices such as cinnamon, cumin, cloves, nutmeg and turmeric from India and the Middle East. This curry originated from southern Thailand and is one of my favorite curries to eat when the weather is chilly. It’s a hearty, comforting meal that’s commonly made with beef, potatoes and Indian spices.
You can easily substitute beef with lamb, pork, chicken or tofu. This curry is traditionally mild in terms of spiciness and not made with carrots; however, I love my curries spicy and I think the carrots add a subtle sweetness. Try the recipe with carrots first and then try it without and see if you can taste the difference. This curry will also be a little thicker than typical Thai curries. If you think the curry is too thick, just add a few tablespoons of water to thin it out.
|1.5||lbs. beef – cubed into 2 inch pieces|
|4||Tbsp. Massaman paste (see below unless using can paste)|
|2||cans Coconut milk|
|3||large potatoes – peeled, quartered|
|2||medium carrots – chopped 3/4 inch rounds (optional)|
|1||medium onion – finely chopped|
|3||cloves garlic – minced|
|1||Tbsp. lime juice|
|3||Tbsp. tamarind concentrate|
|2||Tbsp. fish sauce|
|3||Tbsp. raw peanuts – pan roasted|
|6||Indian cardamon pods – pan roasted|
|1||cinnamon stick (2 inch) – pan roasted|
|2||kaffir lime leaves|
|3||large dried red chilies (non-spicy) – roast, soak in warm water for 30 mins. Then deseed.|
|5||red Thai chili peppers – roast, deseed (optional)|
|5||small shallots – pan roast, ground|
|6||garlic cloves- pan roast, ground|
|1||lemongrass (3 inch) – pan roast, ground|
|1||galangal (2 quarter-sized rounds) – pan roast, ground|
|4||coriander roots – roasted|
|3||cloves – pan roast, ground|
|2||tsp. cumin – pan roasted, ground|
|3||cardamon pods – pan roast, ground|
|¼||tsp. nutmeg – fresh grated|
|2||tsp. shrimp paste|
|2||tsp. sea salt|
directions for making massaman paste
1. dried red chilies
Soak dried red chilies in warm water for 30 mins. or until soft. Then deseed (take out the seeds) and finely chop.
2. cloves, cumin, and cardamon pods
Roast the spices separately in a pan on medium heat until fragrant, about 2-4 minutes. Then set aside.
3. lemongrass, galangal, coriander roots
Roast these individually on medium heat until fragrant until fragrant. Coriander roots will take about 3-5 minutes. Lemongrass and galangal will take about 5-8 minutes. Set aside separately from roasted spices.
4. dried large chilies, Thai chili peppers, and shrimp paste
After the dried large chilies have been soaked and finely chopped, roast them for about 3-4 minutes. For the Thai chili peppers, remove seeds and then roast for 5-6 minutes. To roast the shrimp paste, wrap in tin foil and roast for 3-4 minutes.
pound/grind the ingredients for the paste in a stone mortar and pestle
5. All roasted ingredients
(If using a food processor, place all ingredients together and blend well.)
It’s best to grind dried spices (cloves, cumin, and cardamon pod) first so you can pound into a fine powder. After grinding dried spices, set aside. (Tip: Use sea salt as an abrasive and sprinkle in between each ingredient.) Put chilies in mortar and pound/grind until smooth or texture resembles tomato paste. Set aside with ground spices. Next, grind each of the following separately: galangal, lemongrass, and coriander root. Finally, grind remaining ingredients (shrimp paste, ground dry spices, grated nutmeg and any left over salt) together with ground ingredients that have been set aside. Mix well.
the rest of the curry
6. cinnamon, cardamon pods and peanuts
Roast spices separately in a pan on medium heat until fragrant, about 2-4 minutes. Roast until light brown and fragrant, about 5-6 minutes. Set aside.
7. onions, garlic, and massaman curry paste
Add oil to a medium pot on medium on high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Then lower heat to medium low and add curry paste and cook until fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid burning.
8. beef, coconut milk, cinnamon, and cardamom pods
Add beef and cook for 3-4 minutes. Then stir in coconut milk, cinnamon and cardamon pods and cook for 3-5 minutes or until reddish-yellow oil from the curry rises to the top. Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally so ingredients do not stick to pot.
9. potatoes and carrots
Add potatoes and carrots. Turn up heat to medium low and cook for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are just about fork tender.
10. final steps
Add fish sauce, lime juice, tamarind concentrate, and palm sugar. Stir well. Taste before serving and add more fish sauce or tamarind if needed. Serve with rice or roti.