Not quite so popular as the Red,Green & Yellow Thai Curry, but a little milder & a lot more aromatic is the Unique Massaman Curry. The flavoring for Massaman curry is called Massaman Curry Paste (nam prik kaeng masaman), which contains very warm & aromatic spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamom, & nutmeg. These popular spices of the Indian Subcontinent combined with the Asian flavors of Lemon grass, Galangal, Kaffir lime leaves, & Fish Sauce, makes it a rich & brimming part of the Thai cuisine.
I did not dare to cook Thai at home for so long, for I am not very comfortable with the strong smell of the fish sauce & shrimp paste. This Massaman curry paste, however inspired me to give it a try. I read thru’ & I realized that I could easily leave out the fish sauce & still have a very authentic & flavorful touch of authentic Thai. Right when I was planning on this, I found some Thai Eggplants & used these for the Massaman Curry. (Any kind of eggplant can be used for this.)
Massaman curry Or the Thai Muslim Curry is a Thai dish that is Muslim in origin. ( The word “massaman” is thought to be have been derived from “musulman” which is an old word for “muslim” ). Muslim, and later Portuguese, traders brought spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, cloves and nutmeg from Middle East and India to the southern coast of Thailand, and these new spices got infused with the original Asian spices to give birth to this so rich Curry Paste. It is most commonly made with beef/chicken & potatoes, but can also be made with Eggplant, Cauliflower & Tofu to name a few in the vegetarian world.
Thai Eggplant or Kermit Eggplant: The Thai eggplant, also known as Kermit eggplant, is a variety of eggplant used primarily in Thai cuisine and Laotian cuisine. The most common eggplants in Thai cooking are the round white or green ones about the size of a golf ball.
Ingredients: (Serves about 5-6)
- 6 Small Thai Eggplant/Brinjal, Slit into four with the base near the stem intact
- 2 Large Potatoes, peeled & cubed
- 1/2 Onion Sliced
- 1/2 Cup Coconut Cream ( the top part of the can)
- 3/4 Cup Coconut Milk
- Massaman Curry paste (Recipe Below)
- 4 Tablespoons of Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Tamarind Paste (Optional, if you want a sour tinge)
- 1/4 Cup Roasted Peanuts ( I did not use it here)
- 1 Tablespoon chopped Scallions for Garnish
For the Paste: (adapted from About: Thai)
- 3 shallots, sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), peeled and sliced
- 1 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves and bulb removed, then sliced thinly (I used Frozen )
- 3 kaffir lime leaves (I used Frozen)
- 7-8 red chillies (more or less to taste.. i made mine really spicy)
- 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds,
- 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds, ground
- 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, preferably ground from whole nutmeg
- 1″ Cinnamon Stick
- 3 Small cloves
- 2 Small Cardamom
- 1 teaspoon Tamarind Paste
- 1 Teaspoon Soy Sauce Lite
- 1/2 can coconut milk
- 2 Tablespoon Sesame Oil ( Or any other oil)
Preparing the paste:
Add the whole spices (From nos. 6 -12) to a dry frying pan and toast for about 3 minutes, or until aromatic. grind it to a fine powder in a coffee grinder. Transfer to a food processor, add all the other ingredients and blend until smooth. The paste stores in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or can be frozen until needed.
Eggplant/Brinjal Curry Preparation:
Soak the Slit Eggplants in salt water for about 1/2 hour. Squeeze out the water & set the eggplants aside.
Coat the pan with oil & turn on to medium high. Saute the Potatoes till the sides start to slightly brown. Remove & set aside.
Again Coat the pan with oil. Saute the eggplants for a few minutes. Remove & set aside.
Heat the rest of the oil. Fry the sliced onions till transparent.
Add about 1/2 Cup of the Massaman Curry paste & fry till fragrant about 5-8 minutes at medium heat. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.
Add potatoes & the eggplant. Toss them around for the paste & the spices to coat, & fry for about a couple of minutes.
Add the coconut cream.
Simmer until the oil separates, about 4-6 minutes. You’ll see reddish oil starting to float to the top.
Add the peanuts and the coconut milk. Cover & simmer while ocassionally stirring for some more minutes ( about 15 minutes) or till the potatoes & the eggplants are done. The mixture will slightly brown & a lot of oil will cone to the top.
If it gets too dry, add some water. Add the tamarind juice at the end.
Serve warm with rice or roti. Garnish with chopped scallions.
This dish is usually served with Ajaat (slightly pickled cucumber salad) on the side.
I could not but be happy with the outcome. Definitely a must do again. I will try this with other vegetables, like cauliflower which would really absorb these flavors well, & of course with Tofu. Sending this to It’s a Vegan World : Thai, hosted by Priya of Akshayapaatram, the Vegan World Event being started by Vaishali of Holy Cow!