Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Chicken Massaman Curry - A Muslim classic from Thailand

Thai food is all the rage around the world and there is very good reason for it - it's delicious! Not that I'm an authority on Thai food or that I've eaten tons of it, or even been to Thailand. But these days all you need is an Internet connection and a curiosity about food and the secrets of nearly every cuisine are revealed to you.

It also helps that the awareness of foreign cuisines ad a thirst to recreate these in the home has made many exotic and unfamiliar ingredients now commonly available. And these gourmet products are not restricted to air conditioned high end supermarkets and gourmet boutiques but are actually often available at the local baniya or grocer, and fresh produce is often available with the local bhajiwala or at the local market.

Massaman curry is said to be Muslim in origin, created in the 16th century at the Ayuttha court. It is usually made with beef, chicken or tofu.

Armed with my stock of fish sauce, massaman paste and a few replacements, I set out to make Chicken Massaman curry from this blog -The Partial Ingredients. I found this recipe while browsing around on Pinterest and I have to say this - though I didn't follow it to the T, I did have a fabulous Massaman curry ready in less than an hour. Having said that, I do hope to gather all the ingredients as specified and make it with the correct Thai ingredients listed here too.

Here's what I did -

1 whole chicken, cut into 12 pieces
3 large onions, chopped fine
2 large potatoes, cut into large cubes
Massaman curry paste
2 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp tamarind pulp, diluted in a little water
200ml coconut milk
2 cups water
5 cardamom pods
2 sticks cassia bark
3 cassia leaves or Indian bay leaves (tej/tamal patta)
oil as required

Take a large cooking vessel, one that will hold the entire chicken and give you room for enough of the curry gravy too. Heat oil and lightly saute the Massaman curry paste. I used approx 180gms from a jar of Massaman paste (Real Thai is the brand). Cook the paste slowly for a good 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken pieces and stir well to coat all the pieces with the curry paste. Cook for a bit till the chicken is opaque and then add the coconut milk. Add the potatoes and let it all cook covered, on simmer for a bit. Throw in the chopped onions, peanut butter, cardamom, cassia bark and leaves and add some water too. Mix it well and let it cook till the potatoes are cooked through.

Take it off the heat and stir in the fish sauce, lemon juice, diluted tamarind paste. Mix well and let it sit for 5 minutes while these last ingredients are incorporated and the flavours get a chance to build. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves if you have them.

Make sure you have hot steaming plain rice ready. Serve hot.

This is my first attempt at Thai food and I have to say, I am pleased :)


Joy said...

This is interesting and I will try it over the weekend...provided I do get a jar of massaman curry paste by then. Thanks for posting!

Kalyan Karmakar said...

The curry colour looks quite authentic. I had been to ayuthaya but didn't know that the masaman emanated from there. These Thai curry pastes form a great base to work I have occasionally even made noodles or roasts with these

Unknown said...

Oh this curry sounds interesting. I will definitely try it out.