Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Thai Masaman Chicken-Gaeng Masaman Gai

The "massaman" indicates that the recipe is of a "musselman" or islamic origin. It probably owes
something to early Portuguese influences, and is similar in concept to the "sour and hot" Goan style
vindaloo dishes. By Thai standards this is usually a fairly mild curry, so I find it is a good starting point.


about 1 pound chicken (you can also use pork or beef), cut into the usual "bite sized pieces"
3 cups of coconut milk.
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts (unsalted)
5 peeled, but whole, small onions.
5 small potatoes, peeled and partly boiled.
3 bay leaves,
5 cardamom seeds
a small piece of roasted cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons palm sugar
1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate mixed with 2.5 tablespoons water
3 tablespoon lime juice
2-3 tablespoons Masaman curry paste.
about 1-3 teaspoons crushed garlic. (optional)


Peel potatoes, boil them partly in a cooking pot for 10-15 minutes, and cut in 1 to 2-inch pieces.

Allow the coconut milk to separate and you will have about two cups of thick "cream" and one cup of
thin "milk". In a small saucepan bring the milk to a simmer and add the chicken or pork. If you are
using beef you will need another two cups of milk. Simmer the meat until it begins to become tender
(beef takes longer, hence the additional milk).

Put the coconut cream in a wok and bring to a boil, add the massaman paste and "stir fry" until the
flavor is brought out and maximized. Add the remaining cream and curry paste to the meat.

Add the peanuts. Taste and adjust the flavor until it is (just) sweet (by adding sugar), sour and salty
(by adding tamarind juice, lime juice and fish sauce).

Add the remaining ingredients and cook until cooked.

Note : the potatoes used in Thailand for this dish are a yellow fleshed sweet potato of the type sometimes
called a yam in the US. Western style potatoes can be used, but absorb less of the sauce and flavor.
The potatoes act as a "moderator" to reduce the heat of the curry, and should not be left out.

You can either serve it on a bed of Thai jasmine rice, or double the amount of potato and serve it alone.

Accompany it with a dressed green salad and a bowl of "ajad" (pickled cucumbers--see recipe below). The
traditional Thai table also offers chilis in fish sauce (Phrik nam pla--see below) chilis in vinegar (prik dong,
see below), and ground chilli (not to be confused with the powedered chilli mix sold as chilli powder in the US),
sugar, and often MSG. You can if you wish add about a teaspoon of MSG to the above recipe to bring out the
flavors, but we don't think it is necesary.


4 tablespoons white rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
2-3 tablespoons cucumber, very coarsely chopped, or sliced
2 shallots (purple onions) chopped
3-4 Thai chile peppers, thinly sliced

Combine the ingredients, and leave to stand overnight.

Nam pla prik

Put two thirds of a cup of Thai chile peppers or jalapeno peppers in a 1 pint jar, and fill with fish sauce.
Seal and keep for a week before using.

Prik dong

Put two thirds of a cup of sliced Thai chile peppers in a 1 pint jar, and fill with white rice vinegar.
We also offer a ready-made prik dong.

Enjoy cooking.


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