Most Thai non-vegetarian recipes use beef as their main ingredient. And one such dish, which is very popular in Thailand as well as in the entire world, is massaman curry. Massaman curry is also known as matsaman curry, which is a Thai recipe of Muslim origin. This hearty dish is prepared by cooking the beef in coconut milk and with a special massaman curry.
The curry paste is prepared by grinding chilies, shrimp paste and several other spices like cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, mace and peppercorns together. Other vegetables like galangal, shallots, lemongrass and kaffir lime peels are also added to the paste. Finally, the beef is cooked with the special curry paste, fish sauce, coconut cream, palm sugar and tamarind sauce, which add the wonderful flavors and aroma to the dish.
Difficulty level: Easy
Servings per recipe: 4-6
Preparation time required: 20-25 minutes
Cooking time required: 2 hours
1 large pot
1 stirring spoon
2 lbs. of beef
1 lb. + ½ lb. of new waxy potatoes, cut into 2-inch sized pieces
4 large onions, quartered
4-5 cups of coconut milk
½ cup of roasted peanuts
4 tablespoons of tamarind sauce
8 black cardamom pods
1 cups of coconut cream
1 bay leaf
3-4 tablespoons of fish sauce
5 tablespoons of palm sugar
Salt, to taste
For the Massaman Curry Paste
2 teaspoons of shrimp paste
1 whole nutmeg
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
3 lemongrass, finely sliced
5-6 Thai shallots, finely chopped
3 teaspoons of coriander seeds
2 1-inch cinnamon sticks
½ kaffir lime peel, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons of finely chopped galangal
6 Thai black cardamom pods (peeled)
2 dried mace
10 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon of white peppercorns
12 long dry chilies
Method of Cooking
1. To prepare the coconut milk and the coconut cream, grate a large coconut at your home and take the same amount of water. Put the grated coconut in a large bowl and add the entire water to it. Massage the grated coconut with your hands to extract out the juices from it. Once the water turns completely milky, strain it thorough a large strainer to collect only the liquid. This liquid is the coconut cream. Put back the grated coconut in the bowl and add some more water to it. Again massage the coconut to take out the coconut milk from it. Once done, strain the thinner liquid to collect the coconut milk.
2. Now take the beef in a bowl or colander and rinse it thoroughly under water. Once done, cut the beef into square bite-sized pieces. Next, take a large pot and add the coconut milk to it. Follow that by adding the beef chunks. The beef chunks should be completely covered by the coconut milk.
Add a bay leaf and 1 teaspoon of fish sauce to the coconut milk and cover the pot with a lid. Place the pot on the stove and light the flame to set it on high. Boil the beef for a few minutes and then skim off the collected foam from the surface of the broth. Then cover the lid once again and lower down the flame to simmer the beef for 1 ½- 2 hours or until the beef is pretty soft.
3. Next, take a small pan and put the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves, cardamom pods, mace and nutmeg into the pan. Place the pan on the stove and roast the spices on very low heat. Shake the pan constantly to avoid burning the spices. Roast the spices until they are very fragrant.
Once done, transfer them to a mortar and grind them into a fine powder. But before that, fill up a saucepan with water and place it on medium heat. Add the dried red chilies to the boiling water and soak them until they turn soft. In the meantime, grind the spices to get a smooth powder. Once done, transfer the powder to a plate and set aside.
4. Once the chilies are soft, take out the seeds from them and then pound them in the mortar to convert them into a fine paste. Next, take the shallots, galangal, garlic, lemongrass and the kaffir lime peel. Chop the vegetables very thinly and then add them to the chili paste.
Again pound the mixture to blend everything thoroughly. Follow that by adding the shrimp paste. Grind the paste and then add the white peppercorns and the sea salt. Grind the mixture once again and then finally, add the ground spices. Mix and combine all the things together with the mortar and pestle and then set aside.
5. Next, fill a saucepan halfway up with water. Place it over the stove and light the flame to set it on medium high. Once the water starts boiling lightly, add the tamarind pulps to it and stir them until they completely release out their juices. Once done, strain the liquid and retain that. Next, transfer the massaman paste to a saucepan and add 3-4 tablespoons of oil to it.
Cook the paste until it turns smooth and glossy. Next, add the coconut cream gradually to the paste and stir the sauce continuously to completely dissolve it in the coconut cream.
6. Once you are ready with the sauce, discard maximum cooking liquid from the pot of the beef and retain only a little bit of it. Then add the sauce to the beef. Place back the pot on the stove and set the flame on medium high. Add the chopped potatoes and the quartered onions to the beef and cook until the potatoes turn fork tender.
Once done, add the fish sauce, palm sugar, salt and the tamarind sauce to the beef mixture. Finally, add the roasted peanuts and the Thai black cardamom pods. Let the mixture cook for some more time and then serve with warm cooked rice.