Massaman Curry

I’ve had a bit of a love for Penang curry lately, but tonight Massaman won the battle.  In no way is this totally authentic, since I wasn’t planning to put either carrots or potatoes in and those are both always found in Massaman curry.  Served with Sticky Thai chicken wings and jasmine rice this made a fantastic dinner, quick and easy but oh so tasty.

Massaman Curry

Tonight this was a vegetarian dish with cauliflower, broccoli and bok choy but you could easily add a protein if you like.  In Thai lessons we learned to add thinly sliced meat and then NOT stir it until it is cooked through.

Thai chicken curries are so simple to make, and come together very quickly.

Get everything ready first and when its time to cook it will happen before you know it!

  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped (in Thailand, every cooking class I took had us cutting 1/2 an onion into 6 pieces)
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 tbsp each minced ginger and lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp Massaman curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk (don’t use the lite version)
  • 3-4 cups assorted vegetables, in bite size pieces

Mix together and set aside: 2 tbsp each fresh lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar

Heat peanut oil in saucepan until shimmering and add onion pieces, stir until slightly softened and add garlic, ginger, lemongrass and curry paste.  Saute to bring out the flavours in the curry and aromatics.  Add coconut milk and stir well.  Add vegetables and cook just until crisp tender.  Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar.

Thai food should have a great balance of sweet, spicy, salty & tangy.  If this doesn’t yet, keep making adjustments until it does!

 

Penang Style Thai Curry

Thai curries are always perfect if you really are looking for lots of flavour in every bite.  In Thailand, 1 chicken breast easily serves a family of 4 in a curry dish – lots of vegetables help out, and of course you won’t want to miss a drop of the curry so your rice is perfect to soak it all up.  This version is vegetarian, served with barbecued chicken, but it is easy to add whatever protein you are inclined to use.

Penang Style Curry served with Thai Barbecued Chicken and fragrant jasmine rice

Whatever vegetables you use are totally up for discussion – take what is in season and use that, or if you need to scrape something together at the last moment keep a jar of baby corn, water chestnuts and bamboo shoots in your pantry!

You will need:

whatever vegetables you plan to use chopped and ready

any meat sliced very thin and ready to go in

For this basic curry use:

1 tbsp red curry paste

1 tbsp massaman curry paste

1/2 onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced or sliced

1 inch ginger, minced or sliced

galangal root (fresh if you can get it, but powdered if not available in your area)

lemongrass (again fresh is best but powdered is a decent standby)

tamarind paste

1 can coconut milk or cream

kaffir lime leaves

1 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp raw sugar

1 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

peanut oil

cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped

Heat peanut oil, stir in onion, garlic and ginger.  Allow to soften but not brown.  Stir in curry pastes, and allow curry to cook for a couple of minutes, then add galangal, lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves.  Slowly add half the coconut milk, and allow the sauce to fully incorporate.  Gently simmer ….. then add most of the coconut milk – reserving some in case your curry is too spicy.

Add as many vegetables as you like – if you want this to also be a meat curry, this is the time to add raw, thinly sliced meat.

During one of my cooking classes in Thailand I was advised to add the meat, then NOT TO STIR until the meat is cooked through.  

Allow the meat and vegetables to cook through, and taste.  This is plenty spicy enough for our family, but if you like more heat add either freshly chopped chile or red chili flakes.  If, on the other hand, your family is not keen on spice at all just start with 1 tsp of each of the curry pastes, and oh so gently, gradually increase the amount of paste.

When you remove the curry from the heat stir in the lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and soy sauce.  All Thai dishes contain the 4 essential elements of sweet, sour, salty and spicy from these ingredients.

It may take a bit of playing around to get the taste of Thailand into your kitchen, but you will be so glad you did!

Thai Curries …. not just 1!

All curries in Thailand start out the same way, and then you proceed with each variation … we ate this dish served on a boat restaurant on the Mekong River … pretty amazing!

Any Thai curry can be a meal in a dish – just add any protein you are craving at the moment, and serve over rice.  

If you do add meat – I did learn in Thai cooking classes that you add it to the curry, thinly sliced, and gently dropped in, then do not stir until it has cooked through – that way you avoid any raw meat flavour and your curry still has such a rich, but light flavour.

Heat a bit of oil in the bottom of pan and add 1 cup coconut milk and 1 tbsp curry paste,(choose one of the following)  along with lemon grass, galanga, chili peppers to taste (start with 1!) and ginger. Cook until slightly thickened over med heat. Add meat, whatever you choose, remember that in Thailand only a little bit of meat goes a long way!  onion and cook a bit. Add 1 more cup coconut milk and water as necessary. Add vegetables. Remove from heat.

SEASON WITH
(for all curry dishes)
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp palm sugar

Adjust seasonings as necessary.

MASSAMAN CURRY
Precook potato and carrot to add when meat is cooked. With 2nd cup of coconut milk add 2 tbsp chunky peanut butter and 2 tbsp tamarind. Serve with crushed peanuts and cilantro over top.

Massaman Curry

GREEN CURRY
Same as above but using green curry paste and a variety of different vegetables

RED CURRY
Same as above but different! Always use red curry paste and add pineapple.

PENANG CURRY
Same as above with the addition of kaffir lime leaves.
Reserve some of the coconut milk to swirl in the top
of the curry at serving time along with fresh basil.

I can’t say it enough … taste and season, season, season.  Your curry should have a full bodied flavour, many complex notes and so full of taste you can not get enough of it!