BBQ Jackfruit, Vegan Burgers, and Other Songkran Menu Upgrades

BBQ Jackfruit, Vegan Burgers, and Other Songkran Menu Upgrades

The Thai new year is a holiday is one where we’re enjoying not being in the kitchen! This doesn’t mean that we’re not thinking about food, in particular new additions and upgrades to our vegan menu.

When the pandemic began last year, it was during the holiday that we decided to try our hand at selling vegan food. We didn’t know what to do, but tourism had come to a screeshing halt. What was clear, was that if possible we wanted to continue to employ our staff and help communities in need.

Vegan sloppy joe sandwich from our plant based vegan menu.

Today we do this by offering virtual cooking classes to people around the world, and a plant based delivery service to Bangkok locals. We started with selling meat alternatives like tofu and tempeh, kitchen staples for vegans and vegetarians. However, not long after we introduced food menu that people could pre-order from, that started with about 7 dishes and has no expanded to 20+ items.

The menu is plant based, vegan, and strives to be clean. That means there’s no meat products, no white sugar, and lots of oil-free options. Need an example? Try cooking the chickpea salad from our menu with using the recipe we recently shared.

One of our best sellers is the BBQ pulled jackfruit sandwich. The texture imitates pulled pork and the sauce is plenty sweet, spicy, and flavorful to convince you to try more, whether you’re eating vegetarian or not!

BBQ “Pulled Jackfruit” Sandwich

This vegan pulled pork sandwich is one of the recent additions to the menu. To create it we source organic, juvenile jackfruit, which is in season right now, and stew it until tender. We originally served this on a burger bun, but the sweet and spicy bbq sauce that coats the pulled jackfruit demanded bread that holds up better.

Going forward, you’ll find that when you order this sandwich, it’s now served on a baguette that is plenty crispy when toasted. This is seemingly a small change, but adds so much texture and portability to this beloved menu item.

Nam prik ong is a Northern Thai chili dip, and one of the few in the country that uses a fresh tomato base.

Nam Prik Ong, the Northern Thai Chili Dip

Northern Thai food isn’t a cuisine that makes cooking plant based easy. Many of the dishes derive their delicious flavor from the inclusion of meat, especially pork. This includes foods like nam prik ong, a sweet-salty chili dip with a spicy kick.

Like the rest of the genre of chili dips in Thailand, you typically enjoy nam prik ong with a platter of vegetables. The amount of blanched and raw vegetables included is usually so large that it dwarfs the size of dip with generous bunches of local leaves, crispy vegetables and fresh herbs. However as these dips drift away from their humble beginnings and into mainstream view, the amount of accompanying vegetables shrinks, with some even being replaced by fried meats.

We’d encourage you to enjoy this dish traditionally with a flurry of healthy local veg. Our version is made with plant meat so you can enjoy it regularly, and don’t have the worry that the vegan version has any less flavor or spice than what meat eater’s enjoy.

Homemade vegan burger patties that you can use to craft your own delicious burger!

Vegan Burger Patties

An addition to our staples menu, we introduced vegan burger patties to offer a meat alternative that was more familiar than tofu and tempeh. The patties combined chickpeas and soy pulp (okara) with a mix of herbs and spices to make them flavorful and filling. However they were a lot of work to create and from our original vegan sliders, to the substantially larger final patty prototype there was a complete transformation.

We’re proud of what we created last year, but we’ve now simplified the recipe and given the burgers an upgrade that improves the texture. To do this, we’ve combined them with the product of a local plant based meat company called More Meat. The product is locally produced, uses few additives, and the resulting patty is easier to cook.

That’s not all, these better tasting burgers hold up to more pressure when eating. They don’t go crumbly and retain some moisture inside so they’re juicy too. In fact, the firmness that the plant meat adds has allowed us to ditch their plastic packaging, and send them to customers wrapped in banana leaf.

Thank for reading. For more information on our plant based, vegan delivery service in Bangkok, find the full menu here.

Welcome the Hot Season with 6 of Thailand’s Spiciest Dishes

Welcome the Hot Season with 6 of Thailand’s Spiciest Dishes

The hottest time of the year has arrived in Thailand! What better way to celebrate the sweatiest time of the year, than with Thailand’s hottest foods?

This was exactly the thinking the US Embassy had when enlisting diplomats to taste test six of the spiciest Thai dishes they could find. The fun video starts with the least spicy and slowly builds up the heat with each progressive dish. The result is a quick video that helps introduce a few new Thai dishes to people around the world and wishes everyone a Happy Thai Year, which the Songkran Festival celebrates each year around this time.

Watch the video below and read on to learn more about the dishes that appear in the video. Have you tried them all? Join one of our cooking classes when you’re ready to spice things up!

Americans trying spicy Thai food as a fun way to wish everyone Happy Songkran!

6) Nam Prik Noom น้ำพริกหนุ่ม

Roasted and Pounded Thai Pepper Dip

Warm up the palate with a dish that is often served as an appetizer in Northern Thailand, nam prik noom. The chili dip is made up of medium-sized and juicy light green peppers that most closely resemble banana peppers. Keep in mind though, the flavor and spice level can vary depending on the vendor. The best versions are charcoal roasted before being pound in a mortar and pestle to make a soft, stringy dip.

Nam prik noom is often accompanied by large platters of vegetables, grilled meats like sai oua, and crispy pork cracklings for dipping.

Spicy Bonus Facts:

Nam prik noom is most often enjoyed with a variety of ingredients to dip into the paste. While most of them are raw and blanched vegetables, the most infamous is pork crackling. The curly pork rind is tough and crunchy making it easy to scoop up the dip, and the combination of textures makes it super addictive!

5) Pad Grapow ผัดกะเพราหมู

Garlic and Chili Stir Fried with Minced Pork and Holy Basil

The most famous of the dishes on this list is pad krapow. For Thais this is the repeat go to dish when you’re unsure what exactly you’re craving. If the spicy, umami combination is right it hits all those hard to reach cravings while giving you plenty of fresh chili — and fish sauce soaked chili as a condiment to increase the heat.

This tongue tormentingly spicy dish is often topped with a fried egg and even more chilies in a fish sauce relish.

Spicy Bonus Facts:

If you noticed one diplomat asking about an egg, the spiciest versions are usually served with a crispy fried egg, or kai dao. Crispy on the outside and slightly runny inside, the yolk helps to tame the spice and add texture.

4) Mama Pad Kee Mow มาม่าผัดขี้เมา

Drunken Instant Noodles Stir Fried Chili and Green Peppercorn

Among Thailand’s spiciest noodle dishes you’ll always find pad kee mow ranked near the top. The dish combines your favorite noodles, in this case instant noodles, with fiery fresh chili and green peppercorn. When flash stir fried in the wok, the smoky noodles and overpoweringly heaty flavors can really separate who can and who can’t handle the heat!

The fresh chili and young green peppercorn always rank Thailand’s drunken noodles among the spiciest noodle dishes!

Spicy Bonus Facts:

The term kee mow is an adjective to refer to someone who is regularly drunk. Since this spicy dish is a favorite hangover cure, it’s not incorrect to translate it literally as, “A Drunk’s Noodles” as the fresh chili and numbing peppercorn forcefully shock you back to life.

3) Gaeng Hed แกงเห็ด

Northeastern Mushroom and Pumpkin Soup

This list is suspiciously missing papaya salad from Northeastern Thailand. However, there’s another dish more people should know about from this region called gaeng hed. This soup uses local ingredients making it hard to find outside of Thailand, but often has plenty of spice from fresh chili and funk from fermented fish paste.

The soupy curry contains lots of mushrooms, pumpkin, bamboo, and lemon basil to tame the heat, it also means chefs making it can add even more fresh chili. This is definitely a dish that you taste and think you’re eating something mild, only to have the gradual, lingering spice build up to a long lasting burn inside and outside of your mouth!

The little known soup can be both spicy and cooling at the same time!

Spicy Bonus Facts:

The dark color of the broth can be attributed to the yanang leaf (tiliacora triandra) which is blended to make the base of the soup. If you can survive all the heat and the funk, you may also benefit from the healthy properties of this leaf which is known to help regulate body temperature, a much-needed benefit this time of year!

2) Gaeng Tai Bla แกงไตปลา

Spicy and Pungent Fish Intestines Curry

If the name hasn’t already scared you away, the fragrant and appearance just might. This murky curry often tops most spicy lists with its spicy and powerfully pungent nature. One sip is enough to give you a dizzying dose of seaside fish market vibes, just before the visions of hell takeover. If fish intestines aren’t funky enough, the most popular way to enjoy this painful curry is over fermented rice noodles. Don’t even bother troubling the restaurant staff because true to the nature of southern Thai food, there is no mild version of this soup!

Spicy Bonus Facts:

Not familiar with why anyone would want to eat fish intestines? The process for sun drying the stomach and intestines of the fish with salt is ancient and similar to the centuries-old process of making fish sauce. While these funky and fishy flavors have been mostly omitted from western diets, they’re still a rich source of umami goodness cherished by coastal communities in Thailand.

1) Gaeng Leung or Gaeng Som แกงเหลืองมะละกอปลา

Sour Yellow Curry with Fish and Pickled Papaya

Thailand’s hottest dish, according to US Embassy staff, is another famous curry from southern Thailand called gaeng leung or gaeng som. While not as funky as the previous curry, this means the chili in the curry has the full attention of your taste buds. Meaty chunks of fish and pickled papaya can provide a brief reprieve from the heat. However, let’s be honest there’s no real escape from this heat.

Unlike the more common versions of Thai curries, this dish has no coconut milk as a creamy backdrop to soothe your tongue. Instead, the curry paste is added directly to water or seafood stock. This gives the curry a more soupy consistency but also makes it more dangerous. With a close look, you may even be able to spot some of the speckles of the ridiculous amount of pulverized chili, turmeric, and other herbs used to make the intense paste.

Gaeng leung is from Southern Thailand where it is more commonly called gaeng som, meaning sour curry. Don’t confuse it with a milder central Thai dish by the same name.

Spicy Bonus Facts:

If you’ve never had the opportunity to try this dish, the closest combination of flavors would be from tom yum soup. The sour tartness of the curry comes from the addition of tamarind, pineapple, or lime, and can make the dish a pleasantly addictive way to burst into flames. While tom yum may be more well known outside of Thailand, there are few meals in Southern Thailand that aren’t accompanied by this spicy cornerstone of regional cuisine.

Special Plant Based Vegan Menu at Err

Special Plant Based Vegan Menu at Err

Here’s a few scenes from a big weekend in Bangkok for the Courageous Kitchen team. For the first time, we’re popping up to serve a menu all of our own creation in a local restaurant. The menu is a testament to healthy eating, sustainability, and rustic Thai food. We couldn’t be more proud to have our student leaders participating and to share this event with you.

Our special plant based menu is being served at Err for a short time, during the Thai Vegetarian Festival.

The Courageous Kitchen leadership program gives students opportunities to grow as cooks and as well balanced young people. Although the coronavirus has limited our activities this year, this month has been busy. With the Thai vegetarian festival happening, we took our young leaders into the combonation restaurant of Bolan and Err, to serve our own plant based menu.

During the pandemic we have been taking our healthy cooking to the next level, even launching a delivery service for plant based vegan food. So were please to be able to collaborate with the rustic cooking of the team behind Bolan and Err. The invitation from Chef Bo and Dylan gives our students a unique opportunity to see behinds the scenes, in not one, but two restaurants. In addition to having a hand in making dishes from Err, which specializes in elevated Thai drinking food, our students all get their first peek at fine dining dishes from Bolan.

The Courageous Kitchen team prepping ingredients for their restaurant debut.
In addition to our menu, students were able to participate in the preparation of Bolan’s fine dining dishes as well.

The collab features two plant based set menus, one from Central Thailand and the other from Southern Thailand. Both sets feature our homemade soybean products, tempeh and tofu.

“The guests really loved your fried tempeh dish, now I want to taste!” remarked one of the waiters from Err. The dish they’re referring to is a special Phuket style fried curry paste and crispies piled on top of battered tempeh. The dish is called ‘tempeh tod kreung’ and the crunchy tempeh is a good match for the spicy and sweet paste.

Grilled eggplant salad with fried tempeh batons.
Fried tempeh buried in crispy, pulverized tofu bits or ‘tempeh tod kreung’

The most popular dish from the Central Thailand set is the red curry or ‘gaeng daeng tempeh’. While you can experience a Thai red curry at any Thai restaurant, this dish is special because of the curry paste is handmade, and the ingredients in the curry are representative of Thai biodiversity.

“When we talk about plant based food, many enthusiasts do make a point to eat locally and in season. This is similar to many of the teachings we hear from Chef Bo, whether in the restaurant or on her television show, she always uses her food to highlight the diversity of ingredients in Thai cuisine.”

In addition to the tempeh in the curry, there’s a trio of pea aubergines, winter melon and snake gourd. The latter two especially are often overlooked by restaurants, even though people at home in the provinces still grow and use these ingredients commonly in their cooking. Each of these ingredients are abundant during the rainy season, and because they all have a different texture, keep your tongue guessing with each bite of the curry.

The Central Thai menu set featured a special chili dip cooked in coconut milk and served with seasonal vegetables.

We’re relishing the experience to serve our supporters in Bangkok this weekend and learn from great chefs. We hope to take what we’ve learned into future endeavors, whether in our cooking classes or other training aspects of our leadership program. Never before has the overlap between food and health been so important, and we hope to shepherd our communities here and online towards better wellness as we grow.

Special thanks to the the Bolan and Err chefs and staff, and we look forward to collaborating on special events with them again in the future.

Thai Vegetarian Festival and Upcoming Events

Thai Vegetarian Festival and Upcoming Events

Ever heard of Thailand’s vegetarian festival? The event happens annually, and each year Thais all over the country give up meat for around two weeks. We’re celebrating this year by providing info on the occasion and popping up at a few fun events this month from the 17th of October until the 25th.

The dates of Thailand’s Vegetarian Festival may vary each year, but there’s always a few constant themes from the celebration:

Health & Mysticism – Many of the legends about the Vegetarian Festival point to the tale of malaria stricken Chinese opera singers who began paying homage to the gods with a vegetarian festival. The desperate faith of these Chinese immigrants to Phuket, combined with rituals brought from China resulted in a miraculous healing for those involved. As a result, the festival became embedded in the culture, being held year after year with increasing fanfare. Unlike secular medicine in the West, health in Asia during this time would have been strongly tied to religious beliefs. Pointing to the mystical healing aspect of the origin story may help explain the resulting traditions to festival newcomers.

String of yellow ‘jae food’ flags adorn this local restaurant offering a vegetarian buffet.

Yellow Flags – When October rolls around the yellow flags come out abruptly and they’re everywhere, starting a few weeks before the festival. The flags are the most visible signs of the celebration and are used to demark where vegan or ‘jae‘ food is available. The Thai symbols on each flag look like the number 17 written in red text. You find them lining some popular street food territories, to products in your local grocery and convenience stores. Knowing the flag and the term can help vegan and vegetarian travelers identify food vendors during other times of the year as well.

Merging Culture – Southern Thailand because of trading routes on both sides of the peninsula, was an area with lots of merging cultural influences. During the last quarter of the calendar year, there are many other festivals, mostly with origins in the harvest season. The Vegetarian Festival is no different, but the unique blending of Thai, Indian, and Chinese culture is so fluid and unquestioned you may have a hard time distinguishing these traditions from each other. Chinese dragon dancers may appear in a parade juxtaposed with men carrying the likeness of a Hindu deity, and it may be one of the only times where locals visit modern Buddhist temples, traditional Chinese Buddhist temples, and Hindu temples in the same period.

Self-Deprivation – The period is a time of reflection, merit-making, fasting, asking forgiveness, and other tasks associated with purity. This is especially done by forsaking the most common desires. The way participants observe the festival varies by the beliefs of the practitioners with people abstaining from everything from sex to indulgent foods. The most iconic evidence of these practices is the event’s parades of people in trance-like states with a variety of objects impaling their faces.

Eating Vegan in Thailand

Fortunately for most of us, you can participate in the festival without walking on hot coals or driving sharp objects through your face. If there’s a form of austerity most common, it is observing the rules around food. You’ll find people around Thailand participating in this practice, even if they have no connection with the tradition. Most commonly in addition to not eating meat, there’s an added restriction of not eating pungent aromatics like onions and garlic. Since so many people do participate, the corresponding flags tell people where they can safely eat without worry of breaking the rules.

As a result of how widely celebrated the festival has become, everyone understands the concept of veganism. This is true, even if they don’t know the word vegan itself. This can be to your advantage if you’re vegan or vegetarian and need to request your food be cooked without animal products. Simply attaching the term ‘jae’ (pronounced jay) to the name of the dish will make it clearer to people, than anything you can enter into your translator.

Tofu becomes an important ingredient during the Vegetarian Festival and we’ll be demonstrating how people can make it at home.

If you’re a fan of Thai food, especially street food, a break from meat and spice heavy Thai dishes either feels like a welcome reprieve or cruel and unusual punishment. While many street food vendors may close their shops to enjoy a break, many will also begin offering quick-fire dishes minus the meat elements. When you’re exploring during this period, it’s important to double-check whether or not the vendors you’re visiting will be open as normal.

We recommend you’re informed, so you’re prepared to enjoy the festival. Vegetarian and vegan cooking in Thailand is having a revival. So this period is the best time to seek out special dishes that may not be otherwise offered, visit veg-friendly restaurants, or check out the best restaurants around the city to see if they’re accommodating observers in any special way.

The Courageous Kitchen team hosting a plant based cooking workshop at Err, now you’ll have a chance to taste some of the featured dishes on the upcoming special menu.

Special Menu at Bolan Err

We’re teaming up with the duo from the restaurants Bolan and Err to showcase a special menu this month. This effort piggybacks on momentum from a recent plant-based cooking workshop we offered at the restaurant. The menu includes familiar dishes like a spicy red curry with local gourd (pictured below). In this special version, where you might normally find pork or chicken, we’ve used our homemade organic tempeh instead. The curry covered tempeh is not only filling but nutrient-rich and promotes healthy digestion as well. For a lesser-known dish order ‘Lon‘, a coconut-based dipping paste that is served with fresh vegetables.

The aim of the menu is to introduce more people to plant based Thai food. All too often, much of the information surrounding plant based eating is limited to western perspectives and recipes. However, it would be a shame if people thought plant based food was only salads and pasta. The truth is that the abundance of nutritious Thai ingredients allows a large majority of Thai food to pretty seamlessly adapt to a variety of healthier diets.

Encouraging Thais to eat healthier and more plant-based may be as simple as having them reflect on how people ate during their grandparent’s generation. Much of this mission is in line with the ethos at Bolan, whose namesake calls diners to harken their palates back to the golden age of Thai cooking. This means carefully crafted food, organic ingredients, and no processed enhancers like msg, white sugar, or condensed milk.

Thai plant based menu coming soon to the menu at Bolan / Err in Sukhumvit 53.

During the vegetarian festival, pop into Bolan (located in Sukhumvit 53) and choose from two special plant-based menu sets. Each of the sets are taken from dishes our Courageous Kitchen team loves to cook. We hope you’ll enjoy, and while doing so you’ll be helping us fundraise as well.

Plant Based Kick Off Festival

Any festival observers or plant based foodies won’t want to miss the upcoming Root the Future Festival at Sansiri Backyard. The large, 2-day event will bring together a variety of vendors with all sorts of products. You can think of it as a sequel to the previous Plant Based Market, but with an even greater array of products to choose from. The weekend also coincides with the beginning of the Vegetarian Festival, so it will be a fun, first of it’s kind way to kick off this yearly tradition.

Find our booth at the event and grab fresh tofu and tempeh. But that’s not all! We’ll be teaching tofu making in two sessions each day, at 3:40pm and again at 5pm. This will be great for tofu lovers and families interested in working together to create this unique and delicious ingredient. There will be lots happening, but please come say hello while enjoying the festivities!

Our Plant Based Food is Now Available for Delivery in Bangkok

Our Plant Based Food is Now Available for Delivery in Bangkok

This month we’re launching a new delivery menu for plant based food for our customers in Bangkok. The menu combines Thai dishes we love to make in our cooking classes with our favorite homemade meals. The menu is geared towards busy families who want to save time in the kitchen without compromising their diets.

Thai mushroom stir fry (aka krapow) with holy basil and chili.

The new menu is an opportunity to extend interest in healthy cooking to people who haven’t had a chance to join our cooking classes. “There’s a lot of enthusiasm about plant based eating in the Thai community right now,” says Panisha Chanwilai, our vegan cooking teacher.

“But when people look for plant based recipes online, they might assume it’s all salads and pasta. I want Thais to be proud of our own cuisine, which can easily be made into healthy meals.”

For instance, this month one of the featured dishes is tom kha soup. Thai food fans may recognize this dish as the calmer little sister of spicy tom yum soup. The dish is a soup is composed of coconut milk, made fragrant with classic Thai aromatics like kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, and galangal.

Besides the ingredients that make the dish tom kha, there’s a lot of flexibility to decide what else we would like to include. These variations are common to see from one Thai household to the next. One family may choose to include banana blossom, another prefers the soup with a variety of local mushroom, while still another adds extra chili jam to add heat and color.

Our version is made without any meat products, nor fish sauce. We also no longer use white sugar, and try to exclude oil in our recipes whenever possible. This addresses many of the common criticisms of trends in Thai food the last few decades, which can be oily, overly sweet, and scant on vegetables. However, when you have homemade Thai food, this isn’t always the case.

In addition to food, you can order our organic tempeh, tofu, and other food products as well.

Ready to try food from Courageous Kitchen? In addition to the meals, customers can order our homemade tofu, tempeh, and other food products. Orders are placed by Thursday each week, and the food is delivered to people’s homes every Sunday in a refrigerated truck. As always, proceeds from the sales will help us continue our mission to feed and educate during these uncertain times.

To order and receive the new menu each month, message us via our delivery order form.

This Massaman Recipe Proves Thigh-land is an Acceptable Pronunciation

This Massaman Recipe Proves Thigh-land is an Acceptable Pronunciation

Today we’d like to present a tasty caveat in favor of annunciating EVERY consonant. We believe after cooking the massaman recipe below with chicken thighs, you too will be convinced that THIGH-land is the correct pronunciation. Let’s end this debate at the dinner table!

Thai Muslim food has a rich tradition that has been used to help popularize Thai curries all over the world. If you’ve heard the names of ‘massaman‘ or ‘khao soi‘ curries, they are great examples of this unique and too often overlooked subculture of Thai cuisine. Thai Muslim culinary heritage usually demands red meat stewed for long periods to become tender, fragrant, and extend the shelf life of the resulting curry. However, dark meat cuts of chicken make a great substitution in these curries and allow us to shorten the cooking time.

This recipe walks the line between full-flavored tradition and not spending hours in the kitchen. The key to saving time is getting ahead on your prep. This means adding the extra strep of blanching your potatoes, shortening the time it takes to cook them in your curry later.

Gathering all the ingredients to make your own massaman curry paste can be a daunting task!

Finding a great premade curry paste will also be a big step in saving you time. Making this delicious curry paste on your own is definitely worth it, but be prepared to add at least an hour of prep time. For example, when we’re teaching our guests to make massaman, we’ll make some paste the day before to be sure there’s plenty in case the timing is tight with our cooking classes.

May this recipe for massaman curry end all debates about Thigh-land! Be sure to check the FAQ below the recipe for answers to your most common questions as well.

Ingredients

  • Serves: 3-5 people
  • Equipment: pot or large wok with lid
  • Prep & Cooking Time: 1 hour

500g of chicken thighs, deboned
1 liter coconut milk
2 cups chicken stock
2 tbsp of massaman curry paste
5 tbsp cooking oil (we used coconut)
2 potatoes, peeled, parboiled and chopped into 4-5cm chunks
1/2 cup of roasted and ground unsalted peanuts (for garnish)

Finding a massaman curry paste you like or making your own is half the battle.

Seasoning (to taste)
3 tbsp of tamarind juice
3 tbsp of palm sugar
1 tsp of salt

Optional Dry Spices
2 bay leaves
4 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick

Instructions

1) Start by blanching your peeled potatoes in boiling water for 3-4 minutes.
2) Add coconut oil to your wok over medium heat.
3) When your oil is hot, place your chicken thighs in the oil (4 tbsp), skin side down.
4) Allow the skin to become golden and crisp on the edges, then flip and repeat for the other side.
5) Remove the chicken, set aside, and add the remaining 1 tbsp of oil to your wok. Fry your curry paste until fragrant. When ready add 1 cup of coconut milk to keep your paste from burning.

Watch this brief clip of our massaman with chicken thighs bubbling in a hot wok!

6) Add potatoes, and chicken thighs. Then pour in your chicken stock and half of the remaining coconut milk.
7) Cover for 20 minutes, gradually adding more coconut milk to keep the curry from getting too dry. Remember to check the potatoes occasionally, using a fork to see if they have become soft.
8) When your vegetables are fork tender, season with tamarind, salt, and palm sugar to taste.
9) Stir in a few dry spices (optional) and turn off the heat.
10) Before serving, garnish with ground peanuts. (optional)

What is the origin of massaman curry?

The word massaman is an older Thai word meaning Muslim. The curry was brought to Thailand by Muslim traders from neighboring countries and solidified in Thai history when introduced to the Thai palace by Persian dignitaries. Modern versions have adapted to tone down the strength of the spices used, sweeten the dish, and shorten the cooking time. However, to find the most historically representative recipes, we should look to modern Thai Muslim communities in Thailand today.

Don’t forget to use roasted peanuts or spices to garnish your plates of massaman curry when finished.

What’s the most delicious massaman curry you’ve had?

The best massaman curry is the one that is slow-cooked. People often forget that this dish was created as more of a stew than the modern stir fry-esque curries that dominate Thai cuisine. When jumbo pots of massaman are allowed to simmer overnight, you awake to a smell that takes over the house and makes for some of the most memorable celebration meals in Thai muslim culture.

How should good massaman curry taste?

Good massaman curry is denoted by mature curry paste flavor and smell, and a rich bouquet of spices. The roasted curry and spice should be complimented by a light sourness. This is why you don’t get the same result using citrus juice to replace the tamarind in the recipe.

Most modern Thai recipes call for fish sauce and fermented shrimp paste. This is not required and the salty flavors should not dominate the taste of your curry paste. Sweetness as well as a hint of chili should be present in the dish but don’t worry, it’s not overwhelmingly spicy!

Frying the paste and the long stewing time means many of your soft aromatics like shallots, garlic, and lemongrass should have an opportunity to meld together. When you taste the finished curry, you should not be able to identify these individual aromatics in the flavor.

Why is my massaman dark brown?

Don’t be alarmed if your vibrant colored curry goes auburn brown by the time you’re ready to serve it. This is especially common with longer stewing times. As the coconut milk reduces (especially if you pot or wok is uncovered), and seasoning is added, the color deepens. Whatever the color, your massaman should be delicious!

Note the color may vary depending on the brand of curry paste you use as well. Find a massaman paste you like and you can use it in all sorts of ways. For example, add your extra paste to spice up your next crockpot roast, chili, or pulled pork dish. You can also turn raw jackfruit into vegan pulled pork sandwiches. The canned jackfruit you bought is likely from South Asia, so why not dress it up with those same flavors by adding massaman to your bbq sauce?

A dry wok or dark brown curry may be a sign you have over-reduced your massaman curry. Cover when cooking and be sure to have plenty of coconut milk to add, unless you prefer the dryer, rendang style massaman.

Why do you fry the chicken before making the massaman?

This is similar to the technique you see being used with steaks, where chefs will pan sear them before putting them in the over on other cooking method. In this case the chicken is poached in our curry which is great for slow cooking the chicken internally, but not so great for the outside texture. When you fry the skin you add a bit of texture and umami flavor, then borrow the fried bits on your pan back, deglazing our wok as we fry the curry paste in the same oil. Texture added and no flavor wasted!

Would you recommend chicken thighs for cooking khao soi as well?

Yes! If you want all the flavor that stewing can impart, avoid drier cuts of meat like chicken breast. In my opinion, squishy and rubbery chicken breast is one of the Thai food faux pas that separate average cooks from well-practiced enthusiasts.

Join Courageous Kitchen on team dark meat! Chicken thighs are a great way to upgrade so many Thai recipes, especially curries. This includes famous dishes like khao soi but can work well with your green and red curries as well.

Vegetarian massaman garnished with cinnamon, bay leaf, fresh curry leaves, and dehydrated rose.

What if I want to make a vegetarian massaman curry?

Go for it! Simply subtract the chicken thighs and sub in vegetable stock instead. You can double up on veggies to add some volume to your curry. This can vary depending on what you have access to, but we love adding pumpkin, sweet potato, and even butternut squash.

With the stress of cooking animal proteins out of the way, take the opportunity to pay extra attention to how your hearty vegetables cook. One common mistake with softer vegetables, like sweet potatoes for example, is the temptation to try and cook them the same amount of time. If you do, don’t be surprised when your curry starts to look like mashed potato mush!

We hope you enjoyed this brief history lesson on one of Thailand’s most beloved dishes. Don’t forget to share your recipe remakes on social media and follow us on Instagram for more updates!

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