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Saturday, 6 September 2014

Massaman Gai With Recipe

I learnt to cook this curry at a cookery course at the Rayavadee Hotel in Krabi, Thailand. It's a potato and chicken (or tofu if you're vegetarian) coconut curry from Thailand with Indian influences. I find it very hard to describe the taste but it's a basic red curry paste with cinnamon, ginger and, I think, star anise.  The way I make it it is a very mellow tasting curry without spice, but in Thai cooking it can be incredibly spicy as they use one tablespoon where I would use one teaspoon! Gai means chicken in Thai.

You can make your own curry pastes but I must confess to using shop-bought ones for ease. The brand I use is Mae Ploy and you can buy it from asian supermarkets or some regular supermarkets, including Tesco. It was recommended to me by a friend in Singapore and it's great, I tend to use their Thai Green Curry paste and I will use their Massaman paste once my pack from the Rayavadee runs out. If you use a different brand of paste then use a little at a time - remember you can always add more!

Palm sugar is a key ingredient in a lot of Asian cooking as it perfectly counterbalances the fish sauce used to achieve the sweet/salty fusion that the cuisine is known for. It tastes very sweet and almost like mango. Amazon sell Taste Thai palm sugar online, which is a thick liquid and can be used directly in the recipe, otherwise you can cheaply buy dried cakes of palm sugar in Asian supermarkets. Just put a couple of teaspoons of hot water into a small, clean jam jar with one or two of the cakes and stir until it forms a thick, grainy liquid/paste, adding more water if necessary. You can then store the leftovers in the fridge until you next need it.

The sauce of this curry is supposed to be fairly thick and almost gloopy in consistency, and to this end half as much coconut milk is used as in a Thai Green Curry recipe.  If it thickens too much then put a lid over the wok whilst you simmer it for 15 minutes.

Massaman Gai Recipe
Serves 2 hungry people
Cook it in a wok if you have one, otherwise a large saucepan will work
Serve with rice; thai, jasmine or sticky/glutinous rice is best

2 diced chicken breasts (tofu if you want, maybe 300g?)
4 medium parboiled potatoes, cut into chunks the same size as the chicken (about 1 inch cubed)
Diced onion
1tsp massaman paste - after you taste the sauce you can always add more if you want a stronger flavour
200ml coconut milk (you can use light coconut milk like I used to to make it healthier until my flatmate said he preferred the full-fat version; so now I just eat less sauce and use the regular stuff)
1 handful of unsalted peanuts
1tbsp fish sauce
1tbsp palm sugar if you can get it, otherwise brown sugar
1½ tbsp tamarind puree (Tesco sell it)

Parboil the diced potatoes
Heat the massaman paste and a tablespoon of coconut in the wok for 3 minutes and then add the onion and chicken, tossing to coat them in the paste.
Add the potatoes, peanuts and the rest of the coconut milk and stir it all together.
Season the sauce with the fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind puree.
Leave the curry to simmer on a medium heat for 15 minutes, covering with a lid if needed, and then taste it, adjust the seasonings if they're not in balance (although I normally find they're fine as is, but if you're using brown sugar you're more likely to need to tweak them). If you want it to be more spicy, or you find that the sauce tastes too much of coconut, then add half a teaspoon more paste and leave for a few minutes before tasting again and repeating if still more spice is required.
Leave for another 5 minutes and then serve with rice.

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I love to cook and this blog follows my successes (and a few failures) in the kitchen. If you enjoy my posts, or think there is a problem with a recipe then please let me know