There was a book sale by the Readers Digest group at Ro's office and he picked up a '30 Minute Curries' book with loads of fancy recipes which they claimed would take only 30 minutes but obviously more than that for people like me who would take that long to just get the vegetables ready. Ro on the other hand has become an expert at some of the recipes in the book, the favourite of ours being the Massaman Beef Curry, a classic Thai curry popular in the Muslim areas of Thailand.. While i watched the Michael Jackson Memorial Service with the 'please don't disturb me sign' plastered on my face, Ro prepared dinner. He doesn't follow the recipe to the dot, which kinda bugs the crap outta me, but the curry turns out beautiful. I am however posting the original recipe for your perusal:
Stewing beef- 750 gms cubed (We used meat balls instead...about 12 of those)
Tamarind paste/ pulp- 1 tbs
Coconut milk- 500 ml or 2 cups
Cardamom pods- 4 bruised
Coconut cream- 500 ml (without shaking the tin, remove the top creamy layer)
Massaman curry paste- 3 tbs
Shallots/ baby onions- 4 cut into cubes
Baby potatoes- 8 (Cut in half if too big. You can also use normal potatoes)
Jaggery- 2 tbs
Fish sauce- 2 tbs
Unsalted Roasted Ground peanuts- 70 gms (optional)
Coriander leaves- to garnish
Oil- 2 tbs
Salt- to taste
Dissolve the tamarind paste in half a cup of boiling water. Keep aside.
Heat oil in a wok and cook the beef in batches over high heat for 5 minutes or until browned. Reduce the heat and add the coconut milk and cardamom and simmer till the beef is tender. Add the potatoes towards the last 15 minutes of cooking.
Simultaneously, while the beef is cooking, in a sauce pan, put the cream of the coconut milk and bring to a rapid simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the oil separates and forms a layer on top. Add the Massaman curry paste and onion and cook till the paste becomes aromatic and the onions soften. Pour this mixture into the beef mixture, add the fish sauce, jaggery, peanuts and tamarind liquid and mix well. Simmer for 10 minutes. garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
OK, so this is the actual cooking version which we did try a couple of times and when we kinda got the hang of it, made a few changes here and there and came up with this easy lazy procedure. It tastes just as good.
Since we used meatballs, it just required shallow frying in oil just to brown them. If you are using beef cubes, instead of simmering it till it cooks, you can cook the beef and the potatoes in the pressure cooker for a whistle and it would be perfect. This will save time and gas.
To the cooked beef, add the coconut milk, cardamom, curry paste, fish sauce, jaggery, onions and potatoes and mix well. Simmer on low heat till you get a nice thick gravy and by which time the potatoes would have cooked. Towards the end, add the tamarind mix and give a final stir...bring to a boil, remove and garnish with coriander leaves (which Ro obviously avoided).
Notes: We omitted the coconut cream since it was too rich.
If you are cooking the potatoes and beef in the pressure cooker, then add the potatoes to the coconut milk only at the last stage, otherwise they over cook and lose its shape and consistency.
The whole point is to get a nice thick gravy and so you will have to simmer it on low heat for quite some time.
I didn't think the peanuts added any sort of extra flavour. So its optional. Also, the coconut cream is very rich and 500 ml of it is quite a bit and so we just used the cream in the one can of coconut milk we had, which didn't make much of a difference, but doing the separate procedure in the saucepan adds to the grandness.