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Massaman (Matsaman) Curry
Recipe by: Asha Loupy
Massaman curry—or Matsaman, translating into "curry of the Muslim"—is a beloved dish found in Southern and Central Thailand. The curry is said to have its origins in the 17th century when spice traders from what was then Persia traveled through India to Thailand, bringing sweet, warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, star anise and mace with them. These spices were combined with local ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, tamarind and shallots to create a flavorful paste that is much milder than other chili-based curry pastes like Panang. Traditionally, the paste is made with makrut lime zest and coriander roots. If you can get your hands on those, we definitely suggest using them! This recipe uses a few makrut lime leaves and cilantro stems to mimic those classic ingredients.
This version is made with beef, but Massaman curry can be made with other meats like chicken, goat or lamb. When it comes to the cut of beef, choose one that will stand up to a low and slow simmer. You're aiming for melt-in-your-mouth tender, spiced beef at the end, so choose a cut like chuck, beef shanks or flanken-cut short ribs. If you choose a bone-in cut, just do your best to cut the meat into large chunks and make sure to throw the bones in as well (it'll make for an even deeper, more silky curry). Want to use chicken instead of beef? Just make sure to use chicken thighs, as these take much better to a long braise.
Recipes and articles referenced when developing this recipe:
- Massaman Curry: The Untold Story
- The Splendid Tables's 24-hour Chicken Matsaman Curry by Leila Punyaratabandhu
- Bangkok by Leila Punyaratabandhu
- Thai Hot Kitchen by Palin Chongchitnant
- Massaman Curry Paste from ThaiTable.com