Grinding curry paste with a mortar and pestle is a lot of work. Make life easy and use the Maesri curry pastes. That’s what restaurant’s use. I’ve asked.
You can’t miss the small cans of Maesri curry paste in the Asian market; there’s a picture of a woman on all the products. I like to think of her as the Betty Crocker of Thailand. (Be careful with these curry pastes if you’re vegetarian, as some contain fish.)
I wanted to be lazy and just link to a Massaman curry recipe, but I couldn’t find one as easy as the one I use. So, damn it, I have to write it out. Of course, I’m subbing Maesri Massaman curry paste.
The recipe is adapted from Thai Vegetarian Cooking by Vatcharin Bhumichitr. This beautiful book, filled with vegan Thai recipes, was given to me in the early ‘90’s. Unfortunately, it is out of print, but you can find it used. These recipes are the real deal - not hokey, vegan re-do’s of Thai food.
Massaman curry is traditionally made with meat, potatoes, and peanuts, but feel free to add vegetables. I recommend trying it without vegetables first. Use full fat coconut milk for the best flavor; it makes a difference. I use reduced fat coconut milk when I make it for myself, but full fat when serving the dish to others. It’s impossible to make food and not eat it right away, but save some for lunch. The flavors are vastly superior the next day.
2 tablespoons oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 ounces Maesri Massaman curry paste
8 ounces coconut milk
⅔ cup peanuts or cashews
1-2 potatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes
1 ⅓ cups ready-fried tofu
3 shallots, sliced
1 tablespoon tamarind juice, or lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
- Heat the oil and fry the garlic until golden.
- Add the curry paste, stir briefly, and then add the coconut milk. Stir well.
- Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the potatoes are cooked al dente.
- Serve over rice.