Dear SOS: An all-time favorite of my entire family is Massaman curry (with chicken) from Cholada Thai in Thousand Oaks. All of the dishes that we have tried are wonderful, but Massaman curry is a staple for us. I would love to have the recipe for this dish and hope that you can help. Thank you.
Dear Melissa: Bright and fresh and mildly spicy, Cholada Thai's homemade Massaman curry paste in this recipe marries perfectly with sweet coconut milk in this rich, slow-simmered chicken stew.
Massaman curry with chicken
Total time: 1 hour
Note: Adapted from Cholada Thai Cuisine in Thousand Oaks. The restaurant uses Mae Ploy brand coconut milk, which is generally available at Thai and Asian markets, as well as well-stocked Asian sections of select supermarkets. Lemongrass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves and shrimp paste are generally available at Thai and Asian markets.
Massaman curry paste
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons cardamom seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons grated nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons ground clove
10 dried Thai chiles, chopped (seed the chiles for less heat)
1 to 2 cloves garlic, chopped
4 ounces shallots (from 3 to 4 whole), peeled and chopped
2 ounces lemongrass (about 1/2 stalk), trimmed and chopped
1 thumb-size piece galangal, peeled and chopped
3/4 teaspoon chopped kaffir lime leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons shrimp paste
1. Toast the coriander and cumin seeds: In a small saute pan, toast the seeds over medium heat until aromatic, 2 to 3 minutes. Shake the pan frequently to keep the seeds from burning on any sides. Remove from heat and grind the seeds, along with the cardamom seeds, in a spice grinder, coffee mill or using a mortar and pestle.
2. Transfer the ground seeds to a mortar and pestle or a food processor. Add the nutmeg, clove, chiles, garlic, shallot, lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves. Pound the ingredients until finely pulverized with no visible chile pieces. Add the shrimp paste and mash to combine. (If using a food processor, drizzle in a little water as needed to puree the ingredients to a paste.) This makes about 1 1/4 cups curry paste, more than is needed for the recipe. The paste can be made up to 2 weeks in advance, covered and refrigerated until needed.
Massaman curry with chicken assembly
1 tablespoon oil (soybean, peanut or corn oil)
3 to 4 tablespoons Massaman curry paste
1 (19-ounce) can coconut milk (unshaken so the cream rises to the top), divided
1 boiling potato, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size cubes
1 cup whole raw peanuts
1 tomato, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat until hot. Stir in the curry paste. Cook the curry paste, stirring frequently, until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Stir in the coconut cream (the thicker liquid at the top of the can). Simmer until the oil separates, 2 to 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the potato and cook, stirring frequently, until the potatoes just begin to soften, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until the chicken cubes turn opaque on the outside, about 3 minutes.
4. Stir in the peanuts and tomato and remaining coconut milk. Simmer for a few minutes to marry the flavors.
5. Stir in the sugar and fish sauce. Simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture darkens and the oil rises to the top, 15 to 20 minutes. If the sauce begins to thicken too much, stir in a little water as needed. Remove from heat and serve immediately.
Each serving: 697 calories; 37 grams protein; 25 grams carbohydrates; 6 grams fiber; 53 grams fat; 30 grams saturated fat; 63 mg cholesterol; 6 grams sugar; 858 mg sodium.