You know funnily enough I can still recall the very first time I had a Massaman Curry.
It was in the early 80's at a restaurant that was located in a Bowling Alley in California - the name of the restaurant escapes me ... something or other Siam? - but the beautiful warm exotic flavours of this curry do not elude me. The melt in your mouth soft cubes of beef, the chunks of potato, and the pieces of peanuts, all held together with a lovely warm brown sauce that has undertones of cinnamon and cardamon - the hint of heat, but also sweetness! You know you can smell and taste it, can't you??
Thai food had not yet caught on in Sydney at this time, so upon reflection, I travelled a long way to taste my first Thai dish.
The Massaman Curry was exotically alluring, not brash and in your face fiery, like some of the Mexican food that I had been trying. Cooking in California was a challenge for me on many levels, but even armed with Charmaine Solomon's "Asian Bible" I could not replicate it. It wasn't until I returned to Australia many years later that I started experimenting with this dish.
The version I made last night did not disappoint. It filled the house with that lovely sweet, cinnamon and cardamon fragrance, and was so easy to make.
2 tbs oil - I used Rice Bran Oil
1kg casserole beef, cut into cubes
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 can (114g) Massaman Curry paste
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
270ml coconut milk (I used light - the M.O.T.H. thinks it should have been full fat!!)
3 large potatoes, peeled, cut into 3cm cubes (do this after the dish is nearly cooked)
2 dried bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
4 cardamon pods, lightly bruised (I did this gently on a chopping board - you just want to break the skin)
1 tbs fish sauce
1 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs palm sugar, you can used brown sugar also
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/160 degrees C (fan forced).
Heat a small amount of the oil in a heavy based flameproof casserole dish over medium high heat. Cook the beef in batches, until it is just browned. Put aside.
Heat remaining oil, add onion and garlic. Cook stirring for approximately 3 minutes, or until the onion is soft.
Add the curry paste, and cook for about 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Return the beef to the pan. Add the stock, coconut milk, bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamon, fish sauce, lemon juice, and sugar. Cover, and bring to the boil.
Transfer the dish to the oven. Bake for 2 hours, or until the beef is tender.
What I actually did was leave it covered for 1 hour, then removed the lid for the 2nd hour of cooking - just to reduce the sauce a little. This dish can actually take additional cooking (we had to watch the news so it sat for an additional 30 minutes in the oven and it wasn't harmed in the least!!)
When the meat is cooked place your potato cubes in a microwave safe dish with a little water and cook them until they are just tender.
Remove the cinnamon stick and cardamon pods from the dish, and add the potato cubes. Mix Gently.
Serve this beautiful curry with steamed Jasmine Rice, garnished with chopped peanuts and coriander, and mango chutney on the side!
I must apologise Dear Readers, I was so excited and hungry last night I forgot to take a photo!!! Maybe the leftovers tonight will look appealing?!?
So Dear Readers do you have a food memory from a time when you have travelled - or can you remember your first Massaman??? As they have said many times on MasterChef - nothing evokes memories more than food!!
So what is on the menu this week you ask?
Oven Baked Chicken Stroganoff
One Pot Sausage Stew
Chianti Style Beef Rigatoni
Lentil Barley & Mushroom Soup
and maybe a sweet treat or two!
So make sure you come back to see how it all turned out, and bring a friend!! There's always room at the table for a few more!!