This massaman curry paste is a wonderfully rich but relatively mild curry paste that is easy to make at home. Homemade curry pastes are so much fresher and so much tastier than store bought pastes. And you are control of the heat!!!!
A few months back, my sister said she was making a Massaman Chicken Curry, and she bemoaned that I didn’t have a recipe on the blog, especially given that I nearly always make my own curry pastes!!! So I promised that I would get my recipe up there soon. Well 6 months later here it is! Sorry Cece x
Bit of Food History for you, I love food history!! Which is odd as History was my worst subject at GCSE!!! It ruined my perfect run of A’s and A*’s!!!! That B on my results still haunts me!!!! Well, no not really!!!! But it sounded dramatic didn’t it 😉
Back to food history: Although Massaman curry is a Thai Curry, it is unlike most other Thai dishes as it contains ingredients not associated with Thai cooking (cumin, cinnamon, cardamon, fennel etc). Food historians think that the curry was created when Persian spice merchants introduced these different spices into Thailand. And some people believe that at one point the curry was called Mussulman curry, where Mussulman translates to Muslim Man, adding credence to the theory that the spices and original dish are Persian (Iranian) in origins.
That is one of the reasons that you will rarely see a pork massaman curry. Pork is a forbidden meat within Islam, so it would not be used in this dish. Traditionally massaman curries are made with chicken, and I have a slightly different massaman chicken recipe coming up over the weekend. I roasted the chicken whole with the curry paste! Look at the beautiful crust!!!
So now I have nerded it up with my food history lets get back to eating! This curry paste will keep for about a month in the fridge but it freezes super well. I like to freeze table spoon dollops on a baking tray lined with cooking paper. Then when they are frozen I transfer them to a ziplock bag. That way it is all measured out for you and you can just grab as many tablespoons as you need and leave the rest in the freezer.
The ingredient list for this is super long, but please don’t be scared away. Everything can be bought in the supermarket. And if you are a regular curry maker then most of the ingredients are store cupboard ingredients. Give it a go, I am sure you won’t be disappointed.
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Massaman Curry Paste
- 5-10 dried red chillies (see notes)
- 1 kaffir lime leaf (dried or fresh)
- 2 large shallots
- 11 garlic cloves
- 2 cm piece ginger
- 2 stalk lemongrass
- 1 tsp neutral oil (vegetable/sunflower/canola)
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 3 cardamon pods
- 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground white pepper
- 1 tsp brown sugar/palm sugar
- small bunch coriander with roots
- 1 tbsp peanut oil/vegetable oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp Thai shrimp paste
- Pre-heat oven to 170ºC/350°F.
- Fill a small bowl with warm water and soak the dried chillies and lime leaf for 15 minutes.
- Drain them and gently pat dry.
- Peel the shallots, garlic and ginger, then cut the shallots into 4 pieces, slice the ginger into 6 disks and leave the garlic cloves whole.
- Finely slice the white part of the lemongrass, discarding the really woody green end.
- Place the soaked chillies, shallots, ginger, garlic and lemongrass on a baking sheet , drizzle with a teaspoon of oil and roast the for about 7 minutes. Once roasted set aside to cool slightly.
- Meanwhile, add the coriander, cumin, fennel seeds and cardamom pods to a small dry frying pan.
- Toast the spices over a medium heat for about 2 minutes until they are fragrant. Tip into a the bowl of a pestle and mortar.
- Once cool, gently crush the cardamon pods, leave the seeds in the pestle and mortor and discard the pods.
- Grind the spices, then add the nutmeg, cinnamon, ground cloves, turmeric, white pepper and brown sugar/palm sugar.
- Place the roasted aromatics into a food processor along with the soaked lime leaf, fresh coriander (including the roots and stems), the peanut oil and the salt. Blitz until you have a course paste.
- Add in the shrimp paste and blitz until smooth.
- The paste will keep for a month in the fridge or in the freezer for a year.