Massaman curry is believed to originate with Muslim traders in Thailand mixing elements of their own culture and local ingredients. In fact, the name is thought to derive from Muslim and to this day it is mostly made with chicken and beef but not pork which is forbidden in Islamic dietary laws. . It is a rather special mix of the typical flavours you will find in Thai food, chilli, garlic, coriander, and shrimp paste alongside cinnamon, cloves, star anise, bay leaves, nutmeg and mace among other ingredients.
You can buy very good curry pastes from specialist Asian suppliers, good delis and larger supermarkets but you can make your own awesome version and store it in the freezer. Nothing beats toasting your own spices to release incredible flavour.
Massaman Curry Paste
If you cannot get Galangal you can easily substitute ginger
200 gr Peanut butter
2 bulbs of Garlic cloves, peeled
1 handful of fresh Coriander with stems, washed and dried
3 Lemongrass stalks, tough outer layers removed, thinly sliced
2 large Shallots, thinly sliced
5 cm piece Galangal, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cm piece of Cinnamon
6 whole Cardamom pods
2 tablespoons Coriander seeds
½ tablespoon Cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground Turmeric
¼ teaspoon ground Nutmeg
2 teaspoons Shrimp Paste
Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C / Gas Mark 5. Toss chiles, garlic, lemongrass, shallot, and galangal with the oil and place on a non-stick baking. Roast in the oven turning over a couple of times for about six to eight minutes until the garlic is golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Gently crush the cardamom pods with the back of a spoon and carefully remove the seeds. Break up the cinnamon. Toast the cardamom, cumin, coriander, cumin, and cloves in a heavy-bottomed frying pan for a couple of minutes to release the essential oils. Allow to cool and grind spices and bay leaves in spice mill or with mortar and pestle.
Place the roasted chillies, garlic and aromatics with the spices, coriander, peanut butter, and shrimp paste into a food processor and blend at high speed to make a smooth paste. Transfer to a plastic container and store in refrigerator. You can portion up and freeze for up to three months.