I went to Thailand a while back for a few weeks and managed to cram in a cooking course hosted by a wonderful woman called Noi. No better way to learn. You get taken to a local market to buy the ingredients you’re going to need for the lessons. Now I’ve been to many food markets but this one was more “local” than I’ve ever experienced. Live animals making live animal smells everywhere. PETA would have had a fit.
Anyway for the uninitiated you do this shopping with a piece of lavender or something strapped to your nose to counteract the vomit inducing smell. “Absolutely authentic” would be one phrase for it. “In dire need of refrigeration” would be my choice though.
Anyway, ordeal over you take your purchases back to the kitchen (which is a cool wok station) and set about learning how to make various things.
One of the things I learned is Massamam Curry, which apparently owes it’s decidedly different taste back to roots of a more Muslim influenced origin and selection of flavors. Which is also why it’s typically cooked with beef or lamb.
You can as with all Thai pastes buy some pretty good ones but somethings are worth making from scratch plus your local market/supermarket where you get your ingredients is unlikely to smell like a Thai one. so there’s really no excuse.
To make the curry paste you will need:
1 Tsp Coriander seeds
1 pinch of cumin seeds
1 seeds of cardamon pod
1 stick of cinnamon
1 bay leaf
1 pinch of nutmeg
5 dried birds eye chillies, seeds removed and soaked in water for 5 mins
1 Tbsp Lemon grass inner stalk (hard leaves removed), chopped finely
1 Tbsp of galangal (Thai ginger) or normal ginger peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 shallot peeled and finely chopped
Put the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cardamon seeds, cinnamon bay leaf and nutmeg in a pestle and mortar and pound to oblivion. Add the rest of ingredients and work together until you get a smooth paste.
To make the curry using the paste you just made you will need:
75g unsalted peanuts
1 can coconut cream
4 tbsp massaman curry paste (he one you made!)
600g stewing beef steak or Lamb, cut into chunks
4-500g new potatoes, cut into chunks
1 onion, finely sliced
4-5 kaffir lime leaves (available widely)
1 cinnamon stick
1 Tbsp tamarind paste
1 Tbsp of (ideally) palm or soft light brown sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 Large red chilli, de seeded and finely sliced
1 can of pineapple chunks or fresh pineapple
Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wok or pan and add your curry paste and stir fry for around 1 min, add the beef or lamb and fry until well coated in the paste and sealed. Add the coconut and half a can of water and stir, add the potatoes, onion, lime leaves, cinnamon, tamarind paste, sugar, fish sauce and peanuts. Simmer gently and cover with lid or foil.
Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hrs in the oven or until the beef/lamb is tender or alternatively cook on a low heat on the hob.
Serve with rice.