Simple Thai Food: Beef Matsaman Curry

This is certainly the closest I’ve come to recreating my favorite Thai curry at home and a second big hit from Simple Thai Food by Leela Punyaratabandhu – the book of the month for theĀ Food52 Cookbook Club. It does take a long time (about 4 hours in total), but most of that is hands off.

To make the dish you cook off some mussaman curry paste with some coconut cream and a little vegetable oil and when it’s fragrant you add the diced beef, some coconut milk and enough water to cover the meat. Once it comes to a boil, you drop it down to a simmer and set it on the back burner for 3 hours. Seriously.

When it was 2 hours into the simmering time, I put the rice in the rice cooker and started it (we used brown jasmine rice so it takes about that long) and then I diced the potatoes and boiled them for 10 minutes. I also prepared the tamarind pulp and quartered 3 small onions and toasted some spices – cinnamon, cardamon and star anise. Then at the 3 hour mark we checked to see if the beef was done and added the onions, tamarind, the spices, a couple of bay leaves, some brown sugar and some fish sauce and let it simmer until the onions were cooked. Then we added the drained potatoes and some chopped peanuts, stirred them through and when the rice was done I fished out the spices and the bay leaves and we dished up.

It was so delicious and I actually never connected it before with Japanese Nikujaga (beef and potato stew) but this was very reminiscent of that with a few different flavor differences. Some of us (I’m not naming names, ahem Aaron) wanted to go back for 4ths! We have plenty of leftovers and I can’t believe the serving suggestion was for 4-6 people – they mustn’t be serving it with rice is the only explanation I have for that.

With two meals under my belt, I can’t wait to try our 3rd recipe for the month which is my absolute favorite Thai dish – Pad Thai!

Made in India: Vegetarian Curries and Naan

Tonight we feasted! And I really do mean feasted. It’s been a while since I’ve had my hands on Made in India, I checked it out from our local library in October when Cookbook Club was working through it, but haven’t been able to get it back out since. Now that it’s finally come back around to me at the library, it seemed appropriate that I do a bit of cooking from it, and what better way to start than a vegetarian curry feast.

What we made:

Junjaro – this is a kidney bean curry and when I saw how simple it was to make it seemed like a no brainer, especially since my daughter loves chilli con carne, especially because of the kidney beans. But of course she wouldn’t try it…she’s contrary like that…but the rest of us really enjoyed it. You fry an onion with some cumin seed and a cinnamon stick, and some garlic, ginger, chilli and spices, tomato paste, the kidney beans (I used cans) and some water and let it get saucy.

Inda nu shaak – this is a coconut milk egg curry and it was the most complex of the 3 curries we made because we had to hard boil eggs. Yeah, it was really that hard. You fry off some onions, add garlic, tamarind paste and some spices, dilute it with coconut milk and water (I used a 400 mL tin of lite coconut milk rather than 300 mL of coconut milk and 100 mL water) and add the eggs when they’re boiled and peeled and sliced. The sauce in this one was lovely and sweet and was so nice to soak up with a piece of naan or a spoonful of rice.

Chana Masala – chickpea and tomato curry. Similarly you fry off onions, add garlic, ginger and chilli, this time a can of tomatoes and tomato paste, the spices and then the chickpeas (again from cans). This was probably my least favourite of the 3 curries, but I think that’s because it wasn’t very saucy.

Aunty Harsha’s Naan – the naan, oh my goodness, the naan. So when I got home from picking the kids up from school, I mixed the dough which is a basic bread dough in terms of ingredients, but with yogurt and milk in it, and then after it was kneaded I put it in a covered oiled container to rise until doubled. Then we just split it into 12 portions, flattened it with our hands and used our flat electric grill to cook them. I was so shocked that it actually worked and was distinctly naan bread. Aaron asked if we’re planning to make naan everyday when he found out that the prep time before cooking was only about 5 minutes.

We served everything with plain basmati rice and still have plenty of leftovers for Aaron to take to work for lunch over the next few days. I’m so glad we powered through to make this meal, because to be honest today was an exhausting one, but when you look at everything we made, the hands on time was really not that long at all. This book continues to impress me and next time I think I’d really like to try some meat curries and some of the chutneys…oh and did you know there are some really interesting sounding desserts in there, too?!!