Thursday, December 8, 2011

Thai Massaman Chicken Curry


It's been pouring rain all day today.  Rain usually means I pull out the soup pot, but this time I decided for a hot and spicy curry instead.  I researched how tot make Thai Massaman Curry.  This curry is from Southern Thailand and has a lot of Malaysian and Indian influences.  The sauce is full of spicy and aromatic flavors and that's what I love to eat.  I decided to make chicken curry, but you can substitute any kind of meat or tofu into this dish.  Most Massaman Curry recipes I found use a prepared store-bought bottle of Massaman Curry Sauce.  I am not crazy about store-bought sauces because I usually get an artificial/preservative taste from them. I love to learn to make my own sauces so I used the fresh and dry ingredients that I had on hand to come up with this sauce. The hardest part of the this dish is gathering the ingredients, but once the sauce is made it's a simple stir fry that has a wonderful fusion of Indian and Thai flavors.

2lb chicken cut into bite size pieces
Massaman Curry Paste (see recipe below)
1 bay leaf
cinnamon stick
fish sauce (as necessary)
coconut milk
vegetables  (see note)  

Note:  I used diced green bell pepper (frozen), 1 can of drained bamboo shoots and 1 can of drained water chestnuts.   You can use broccoli, carrots, zucchini, potatoes etc..

Massaman Curry paste: 

Dry Ingredients:
5-6 dry red chilies (roasted)
1tsp coriander seeds (roasted)
1tsp cumin seeds (roasted)
4 cloves (roasted)
4 cardamom pods (roasted)
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1tsp of turmeric powder
1tsp of brown sugar

example of dry roasting

In a Stainless Steel pan dry roast the ingredients that have roasted next to them above.  You want to gently roast these ingredients so not to burn.  Once they are fragrant, place in a dish to cool.  Once cool, grind into a powder in a spice grinder.  ** Do not open spice grinder right away, let the spices have time to settle otherwise you will be coughing   Mix in the other dry ingredients and set aside.

Fresh Ingredients:
One medium onion chopped
1 stalk lemon grass finely chopped.  (only use inner part of the bottom portion of the lemon grass)
6-8 cloves of garlic roughly chopped
2 inches of  ginger roughly chopped

Liquid ingredients:
3-4Tbs of fish sauce (you can use soy sauce if you want to make this dish vegetarian)

1/4 cup coconut milk (you will use the rest of the can of milk later)

My Massaman Paste
Once you have the dry, fresh and liquid components ready, put all three into a blender or food processor and blend into a loose paste.


Get wok heated on med-high heat and add 2tbs of oil.  Once heated, add the Massaman Curry Paste and fry for 1-2 minutes until very fragrant.

Add 1-2 Bay leaves and  a some cinnamon stick


Add 2lbs of boneless/skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes. I also rinsed out my blender with 1/2 cup of water to get all the curry paste out and let the chicken cook for 5 minutes.

Once the chicken is mostly cooked through I added some canned bamboo shoots (20oz) and a can of  diced water chestnuts (10oz).  I also added some frozen green bell peppers.  You can add any veggie you like here.  ex: Small diced potatoes, carrots, celery, etc...

Now add the remainder of coconut milk from earlier. Taste for seasoning here.  If you need salt here you can either add salt or more fish sauce.  Note: **Fish sauce is very strong so make sure it doesn't over power the other flavors in the dish.  I simmered the dish for 5-8 more minutes once I added the coconut milk.  .

This will serve 4-6 people.  Serve with rice.  You can also serve it with Poppadums (a crispy potato chip like product) found in all Indian stores.  If you love things extra spicy, like I do, then you can marinate some sliced Thai bird chilies or jalapeno chilies in fish sauce and use it as a spicy condiment.   Enjoy.

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