Massaman Curry with Chicken – Gaeng Massaman Gai – มัสมั่นไก่
A trip down to Trang last week rekindled my love for Massaman curry after I had a fantastic version at the De Tara Beach Resort. It’s not often you get a proper slow cooked, authentic masaman on a Thai Island. It took me back to when I first travelled Thailand in 2009 and was taught how to make this rich Thai curry by a lady in Surat Thani. I thought it was about time I shared this family recipe with you guys.
Now a massaman curry cannot be cooked quickly, this is a thing of beauty and takes time; at least an hour, more if you are using beef. This is why most people who holiday on Thai islands haven’t tried a real massaman. Too many restaurants cook them as they would a red or green curry – ready in 10 minutes from start to finish using chicken breast. This beautiful, rich curry deserves more of your time and if you give it that time, I promise you will be richly rewarded!
Massaman curry comes from the Muslim populated south of Thailand and uses a lot of Indian spices which is what sets it apart from the other Thai curries. The other difference is that all the ingredients for the paste are dry fried until charred. This gives a real depth of flavour to the finished dish. It’s like a Thai/Indian hybrid curry and definitely my favourite. My version is not as sweet as a lot of restaurant style massamans so feel free to adjust the sugar levels to suit your taste.
Take time to get your paste ingredients charred nicely.
One thing that’s not necessarily traditional is my use of a blender to make the paste. Now purists will say that you must use a pestle and mortar to grind your paste as it breaks down all the fibres in the ingredients and releases more flavour and that you cannot reproduce this in a food processor. While I do agree with this, I think a blender is a great alternative as it completely breaks down whatever you put in it as long as you have some liquid to get it going. That’s where the oil and coconut cream come into play. See, most Thai curry recipes call for you to cook the paste in coconut cream before or oil adding the milk so by blitzing the paste ingredients in oil or coconut cream then cooking it out, you’re basically doing the same thing. Plus you save an hour of your day that otherwise would be spent pounding ingredients!
If you don’t have a blender and you’re going to be following my recipes then get your hands on one, preferably with a spice/coffee grinder attachment as we will be making our own spice blends. There are some really great ones for around the £20 mark and it will be one of the best investments in your kitchen you can
make I promise! I’ve put a link below to a really good value starter blender with all the attatchments you need.
Chicken on the bone is important for flavour in a masaman so we’re going to be using thighs but a mixture of thigh and drumsticks would also be good. Just try and get the best quality chicken you can – free range at a minimum.
This curry tastes even better if you make it a day ahead to give the spices a chance to infuse into the potatoes and chicken.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Please feel free to comment below and let me know what you think…..
For the Paste:
For the curry: