Recipe: Beef Massaman Curry
For the tamarind water
60g tamarind paste
150ml warm water
For the curry paste
10 dried kashmiri chillies, seeds removed, roughly chopped
2 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp green cardamom seeds (from about 20 green cardamom pods)
8cm cinnamon stick
2 large pieces of blade mace
1/2 tsp nutmeg powder
10g of fresh coriander leaves
3 tbsp vegetable oil
200g shallots or onions, roughly chopped
25g garlic cloves, peeled, roughly chopped
25g fresh root ginger, roughly chopped
2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, soft inner core chopped
120ml coconut milk
For the curry
1.5kg blade or chuck steak, cut into 5cm/2in chunks
600ml oz coconut milk
6 green cardamom pods
8cm cinnamon stick
1 tsp pink salt
8 shallots, peeled and halved
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 quantity tamarind water (above)
1 tbsp palm sugar
75g roasted peanuts
1 handful fresh Thai sweet basil leaves (optional)
1. Gently mix the tamarind paste with warm water, keep aside.
2. For the curry paste, heat a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. 3. Add the kashmiri chillies and fry for 1-2 minutes, shaking the pan frequently to prevent the chillies from burning, until the chillies are lightly toasted. Transfer the chillies to a spice grinder or mortar.
3. Return the pan to the heat and add the coriander, cumin, nutmeg, cardamom seeds, cloves, cinnamon and blade mace and fry for about 10-15 seconds, keep shaking the pan to prevent them from burning, and also to toast each one. Add to the spice grinder with the chillies.
4. Grind all the spices together.
5. Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and fry slowly over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. Add the spice mixture and fry for a further 1 minute.
6. Blend the mixture along with all the other curry paste ingredients into a paste.
7. Place the beef into a heavy-based pan with half of the coconut milk for the curry and an equal amount of water. Add the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and pink salt to the pan for infusing, then bring to a simmer and partially cover the pan with a lid, leaving just a small gap for the steam to escape. Cook for two hours, stirring occasionally, until the beef is just tender.
8. While the beef is cooking, peel the potatoes and cut into 2cm cubes.
9. Discard the cardamom and cinnamon from the beef pan.
10. Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, the potatoes, shallots, the curry paste, soy sauce, tamarind water and sugar and simmer gently, uncovered, for a further 25-30 minutes.
11. Add in the toasted peanuts, and remove into a serving dish. Rip the basil leaves in half using your hands and sprinkle on top. Ready to serve!
photo credit: Ghin Khao