I’ve been tinkering with this recipe for awhile. Sarah originally concocted a massaman curry one night with a little assistance from me and some taste testing by Ted and Roger. (You can read her blog, and find her recipe, here: http://arwz.com/ssblog/2012/01/15/the-great-no-paste-thai-curry-experiment) The idea was to develop no-paste curry recipes, curries one could just throw together the night-of without having to worry about making an elaborate paste beforehand. Following up on this project was crucial to me because, as I’ve mentioned before, I love curry, and am increasingly becoming too poor to go out to eat as often as I’d like to to eat it.
I liked Sarah’s massaman curry – if you look at her recipe, you’ll see that our versions aren’t too terribly dissimilar – but it just wasn’t … right to me. So I took her recipe and began to tinker. Luckily, massaman curry is Ted’s favorite Thai dish, so he didn’t mind me making it over and over again. Besides my overall urge to get the recipe just to my liking, I also wanted to get another recipe together to share on my friend Mark’s excellent cooking blog, http://cookinwluv.blogspot.com/ – he has a feature there, called Made with Love Mondays, that asks for recipes made from scratch. And this week seemed particularly appropriate: he had asked for Irish recipes, in honor of St. Patrick’s day, and I thought, “Hell, potato curry – what’s more Irish than that?” Ahem.
So without further ado, here is my final No-Paste Thai Massaman Curry recipe. I particularly like this recipe because it requires no fresh ingredients other than what I put into the curry sauce. By this I mean, if I stop at the store to pick up potatoes, a bell pepper, and some chicken thighs on the way home, everything else is something that’s almost guaranteed to be in my house already as a staple.
Onion, garlic, ginger, dried red peppers, cooking oil, ground galangal, ground cloves, ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground nutmeg, whole coconut milk, fish sauce, brown sugar, tamarind paste, ground peanuts (NOT peanut butter), filtered water or broth (chicken or vegetable), potatoes, protein, vegetables, and basmati rice. (I would also advise fresh cilantro, for garnish.)
Step One: In a food processer, process together the following ingredients. (I don’t have an immersion blender, and the transferring of a hot liquid from pot to food processer and back again is too perilous for me, so therefore I do the food processing in advance. But if you don’t even have a food processer, that’s OK, too – just mince the onion and ginger and garlic really finely.)
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tbl fresh ginger (If you don’t have fresh ginger around, use 1 tbl of ground ginger in Step Three)
Dried red chilies (I use sanaam chilies, which are small and hot – I use three of them, but this is a matter of taste and pepper quality, so adjust according to your preferences)
Step Two: Sauté this puree in 1-2 tbl of neutral-tasting oil (like canola) until the liquid cooks off.
Step Three: Add to the pan the following spices.
1 tsp dried galangal (A must for at-home Thai cooks – they have it at Penzey’s)
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground cardamom
Pinch of nutmeg
I always use generous measurements, so more like, “heaping ½ tsp”, etc. Saute for about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
Step Four: Add the following to your spicy paste.
1 can of whole coconut milk
6-10 dashes of fish sauce
2 tbl brown sugar
1 tbl tamarind paste
2 tbl ground peanuts (NOT peanut butter – I mean the ground nut paste you can get out of the machine at Whole Foods. If you can’t get this, just crush up some roasted, unsalted peanuts as finely as you can, about 3 tbl worth, and add those.)
1-2 cups filtered water or broth (I use veggie broth, personally)
… plus bite-sized potato chunks and protein. Two things about the potatoes: one, definitely cut them small – for whatever reason, cooking them in this mixture takes forever, MUCH longer than just simmering a potato. If you use large chunks, be prepared to wait upwards of an hour and a half before they’re tender. Two, though I usually leave the peel on my potatoes for the nutrients and fiber it provides, you really should peel your potatoes for this recipe, so that they can absorb as much of the delicious curry sauce as possible; potato flavor sponges, that’s what they are. Also, as to protein, I favor chicken thighs, but that’s your call.
Step Five: Simmer 30-45 minutes, until the potatoes are tender.
Step Six: Add veggies. I like to use chunks of red, yellow, and/or orange bell pepper, but I also think cauliflower would work well in this dish – you’d be better off with a vegetable on the neutral-to-sweet side, I think. Simmer 10-15 minutes.
Step Six: Serve over basmati rice. Garnish with fresh cilantro, if you’ve got it.