Introduction: Massaman Curry

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Massaman curry is one of my new favorite meals. I had it for the first time a couple years ago when I came to be an Artist in Residence at Instructables, and I knew right away I had to figure out how to make it. I just love the smell of massaman curry - the ginger and lemongrass - and how creamy but spicy it is. It's definitely a very intricately seasoned dish - the layers of flavor are unlike nothing else.

Over the past six months or so, I've been messing with it and now it tastes just like the massaman curry at the Thai place I order it from. :D

I've tried it with chicken, beef and tofu - I don't know that I can fully recommend the tofu in it, but chicken and beef were super tasty.

Step 1: Ingredients

  • one pound beef, chicken or pork (or tofu, if you insist)
  • one pound potatoes
  • 1 onion, diced
  • one 2 inch long piece of ginger, grated
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 teaspoons+ chili garlic paste (I use 4-5)
  • one 14 oz can broth to match meat/tofu choice
  • one 14 oz can coconut milk
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind
  • 1/2 - 1 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
I know this list is a little overwhelming, but many of these ingredients are great staples to have around. I've worked really hard to get it to taste just right, so I can't promise it will taste the same if you something out or substitute. This is one of the only times I stress actually using the recipe. ;)

Also, go easy on the fish sauce. I always use 1/2 tablespoon because I'm not fond of it and I feel like it overpowers the other flavors.

Depending on the meat you choose, your cooking times will vary. More on that in step 5.

Step 2: Prep

Cut your meat/tofu & potatoes into bite size chunks.

Mince you lemongrass (and save about a tablespoon to put in near the end of cooking!) and dice your onion. Peel the onion and garlic - you can either mince it or grate it directly into the pan. :)

You can also measure out your spices to make the next step quicker.

Step 3: Sautéing

Pop a bit of oil (use coconut if you've got it!) into the bottom of a large pot and heat over medium.

Add in the onion, lemongrass, ginger and garlic and stir it around until soft and fragrant. Then add in the turmeric, cardamom, cumin seeds, coriander, black pepper, bay leaves and tamarind paste. Stir this around until everything is smelling amazing and colored orange.

Step 4: Add the Meat, Potatoes and Liquids

Add in the stock and then your potatoes and chicken. Stir this around really well, and scrape all the yummy bits off the bottom of the pot.

Then add in the coconut milk and stir again.

At this point, you'll add the chili garlic paste, fish sauce and brown sugar, too.

Step 5: Simmering

This is a long simmering dish. You want to take it low and slow so the flavors develop, the potatoes cook, and your meats/tofu are well flavored and soft. Here are the approximate cook times for the various meats/tofu if you want them to be delicious and tender:
  • chicken - 1 hour
  • tofu - 1 hour
  • pork - 1-2 hours
  • beef - 2-3 hours (yeah, for real, it took that long)
You can definitely cut the time and say screw it if you don't mind chewy meat. 

My recommendation is to simmer with the lid slightly cracked - that way you're reducing the liquid little by little and intensifying the flavors. :D

In the last 15 minutes or so of cooking, I like to add in the reserved lemongrass to give it a extra kick of flavor. The lemongrass can get a little subtle after cooking for a long time.

Once it's thickened to your liking and the meat is nice and tender, pull it off the heat and serve with rice. I like jasmine, but I bet any type will be tasty with it!

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