I bloody love Massaman curries. Lamb, chicken, beef…give it all to me (but like, not at the same time because that’s not good for the gut). When I go to a Thai restaurant, I find myself conflicted between ordering this or a Thai Green chicken curry. I already know how to make a mean Thai Green Curry (recipe pending one day!), and so I challenged myself with the task of making a Massaman, which I was actually a little intimidated by initially! But alas, the mouth wants what it wants, and I got to work.
I always make my own curry paste from scratch, as I am conscious of all the sneaky ingredients which find their way into shop bought curries and pastes. I recommend making the paste a day or so in advance, as it enhances the flavours of the paste’s ingredients. And it also shortens the cooking process!
I used Thai Table’s amazing recipe to make both the Massaman curry paste, and the actual curry itself.
Now, while Thai Table’s recipe is pretty damn authentic and delicious, I had to put my own healthy spin on things…because that is what I do, n’est pas??
So I’ve copied and pasted the recipes linked above, with healthier substitutions so that those wishing to keep their blood sugar, body fat, and gut health in check can indulge without guilt (or consequence) too.
Massaman Curry Paste Recipe:
(makes about 3-4 tablespoons)
- 4 pods cardamom
- 2 inch piece cinnamon sticks (I used cinnamon powder)
- 5 cloves
- 1 tablespoon coriander (I used ground coriander)
- 1/3 tablespoon cumin
- 4-6 Dried whole chilis
- 1/2 inch piece julienne galangal (I used fresh ginger)
- 1 head garlic
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 1/3 tablespoon peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 3 shallots (I used 2 medium sized red onions)
- 1 teaspoon shrimp paste (I used organic Worcester Sauce)
- 1 Mace (I omitted this completely)
- 1 Nutmeg (I used 1/2 a teaspoon of ground nutmeg)
Grill or roast garlic and shallots with skin on. Roast until the skin is charred and the flesh is soft and cooked. Put them directly on the grill in the oven for about 10 minutes on 200c. When garlic and shallots are cooled, peel the skin and remove any charred spots.
Tear the chili stems off and remove the seeds. Cut or tear the chili into big pieces. Slice galangal (or ginger) into thin pieces and julienne them. Slice lemongrass thin. You only need about half of the stalk, about 6-7 inches. Use the part of the stalk closer to the root.
In a pan, over medium heat, toast the chilies and lemongrass until slightly brown. It should take about 7-8 minutes. Remove the roasted chili peppers and lemongrass. Add the rest of the spices, except for the garlic and shallots and toast them by moving them around the pan. Roast them until they are fragrant, for about 2 minutes. Remove the spices from heat.
In a pestle and mortar bowl, throw in the chili peppers and salt. When your chili peppers are roughly ground, add the lemongrass. Pound until the lemongrass is roughly ground. Add all the other spices, except for roast garlic and shallots. Pound until well blended.
Add the roasted garlic and shallots. Pound again until everything is mixed in and smooth. Add shrimp paste (I used organic Worcester Sauce instead) and pound to mix everything together. Personally, I gave up on the pestle and mortar shit and just ended up using my hand blender. Gave me a beautiful paste in under 5 minutes.
And you’re done!
Massaman Curry Paste should be dark red from roasted ingredients, finely ground and fragrant.
Keep the Massaman Curry Paste in refrigerator for up to a month and a year in the freezer.
So now you need to actually make the curry itself! See? This is why I advised making the paste on a seperate day 😅
Massamun Curry Recipe:
(Makes about 6-8 servings)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1kg diced organic beef chuck
- 1/2 inch piece cinnamon stick (or 1 tsp of cinnamon powder)
- 1 cup organic coconut cream (I like Biona)
- 3 tablespoons homemade massuman curry paste
- 4 red onions, halved
- 1/2 cup cashew nuts
- handful of baby potatoes
- 3 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste (I made a paste of 1 lemon’s juice + 1 tsp of rice vinegar + 2 tbsp of xylitol)
- 1 cup of water
- Bunch of Thai Basil leaves
Toast cashews in a pan until brown, over low to medium low heat, about 5-7 minutes.
Add 2/3 of coconut milk to a large pot over medium heat. Add Massaman Curry paste into the pot. Stir to break up the curry paste. Mix it well with the coconut milk. Keep stirring to prevent the bottom from burning.
After 3-5 minutes, you start see red oil bubbles up. Make sure you get a lot of oil out which is the signature of Massaman Curry by frying longer and add more coconut milk at this stage. The oil fries the spices and brings out the fragrance, flavors and color.
Stir to coat the beef with sauce to brown the beef. The browning gives the beefs better texture and keep the beef together during simmering.
Add the baby potatoes, onions, the rest of coconut milk, water, cinnamon and bay leaf. Let the curry come to a simmer. Let it simmer for at least 1 hour or longer until the beef is tender.
When the beef and potatoes are tender, add the Thai basil leaves, xylitol+lemon juice mixture and salt.
When Massaman Curry is ready, the potatoes and onions will have disintegrated somewhat and thickened the curry. The beautiful red oil will float on top. The toasted cashews will be soft. The curry is fragrant with spices and toasted nuts.
Serve hot with rice and steamed vegetables of your choice.
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