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.
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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!
Often overlooked because of the delicious sweet potatoes themselves, the leaves of the sweet potato plant are nourishing as well. Sweet potatoes grow in the soil unseen, but above them is where all of the action is happening. Given enough space sweet potato vines are prolific. They will act as ground cover, stretching across your yard, and when given the opportunity to climb, will grab hold of nearby plants, posts, and fences. With plenty of sun provided, the heart shaped leaves stay ever stretching to find new opportunities to sun bathe.
Any gardeners reading are likely to join in our enthusiasm for these tasty leaves. The same can’t be said of regular potato leaves which can be toxic. Pumpkin, squash and other gourds have leafy vines, but the leaves have a sticky layer on them that needs to be peeled. Then there’s the incredibly popular cruciferous greens like kale which are well known, but sweet potato leaves are seldom as bitter, often being neutral tasting. This means they’re also good for introducing more green into the diet of young people as well.
A few ideas for cooking sweet potato include having them raw in a salad, or as an addition to a green smoothie. When harvesting them for a salad, look for the tender young leaves, often a deeper color than the larger leaves. For stews, stir frys, and any heavier cooking, the larger leaves hold up well. We use the beautiful new leaves as a colorful and tender garnish on top of other dishes as well. These leaves appear darker in color and more waxy looking, but lose this sheen as they grow larger.
Today we want to share a bowl of simple, sweet potato soup. The recipe is versatile, allowing for lots of variations. Feel free to make it your own, using different vegetables and locally grown herbs if needed. The point is for the soup to be a vehicle for nutrition, and a champion for biodiversity. The flavor comes from the combination of soft and hard aromatics in the recipe, basil leaves and lemongrass, and should only be mildly sweet with an optional touch of heat from fresh chili. Enjoy the recipe below with a heap of sweet potato leaves, and any other nearby and nutritious ingredients you have to add.
Serves: 4-6 people
Equipment: mortar and pestle, pot
Prep & Cooking Time: 30 minutes
1L water or stock 500g sweet potato leaves 500g winter melon (substitute another soft gourd like zucchini if needed) 1 angled gourd, sliced 1 carrot, sliced 5 lemongrass stalks, smashed 6 shallots, smashed 4 coriander roots, smashed 3-4 fresh Thai chili (substitute with mild chili or bell pepper if desired) 1 tbsp of palm sugar 1 cup of soy sauce 1 tsp of salt 1 tsp of black soy sauce 1 bunch of lemon basil (or other sweet tasting herb leaf, like Italian basil)
1) Prep all your ingredients, washing and peeling as neccesary. Before you start cooking, consider which vegetables you’re adding that may need more time than others to cook. 2) Pound your shallots, coriander root, and lemongrass in a mortar and pestle. Or bruise with a heavy object. 3) Add water to your pot with these three aromatics (shallot, lemongrass, and coriander root) and bring to a boil. 4) When the soup is fragrant and lightly boiling, add any tough vegetables like carrot, followed later by soft veg like winter melon and angled gourd. Cook until soft. 5) Adjust your heat to low and season by adding your palm sugar, soy sauce, black soy sauce, and salt. Taste and adjust as needed. 6) Turn off the heat and add your fresh handful of lemon basil. 7) When serving remember to avoid adding lemongrass into your serving bowl. You can remove it completely, but leaving it in the soup will allow it to continue to add flavor to the broth.
This recipe is suitable for a large family of 5-6 people and may put a big dent in your garden. Don’t worry though, the sweet potato plants are resilient, and can survive your pruning and nibbling. Do let us know if you loved this recipe by donating to our charitable work, or signing up for one of our online classes. Then check back soon for more updates and recipes!
Tom Yum lovers will be excited to learn you can enjoy the popular soup in a variety of ways. One of our favorite renditions is in the form of fried rice. This is similar to what you would order at a street food stall with a wok station. If you can find fragrant herbs to add, this recipe will be a great way to spice up your usual homemade fried rice!
Aromatics & Cooking Method
If you’re new to tom yum, the flavors come from a combination of aromatic herbs popular in Thai cooking. Those herbs are lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaf. If you’ve ever had them in a Thai restaurant you may remember them because they’re the bits in the soup you can’t eat comfortably. Although all of them are edible, each is so coarse they would be really tough to chew.
To make the fried rice version, you’ll need to find your local asian grocer and prep the ingredients. Unlike the soup where the herbs will boil together, this recipe requires the elbow grease to pound them in a mortar and pestle. This is a big job, and is best done in a traditional stone mortar and pestle, so that each of the ingredients is properly smashed.
Can you put the items in a food processor or blender? Sure you can. However, often when we’re using the mortar and pestle, blending is not the most important function for using this traditional kitchen equipment. What we really desire are the essential oils from the ingredients that will make a paste that will remind your eyes, nose, and mouth of your favorite tom yum soup!
Finally, we should add some details about the moisture content of the fried rice. If you’re not cooking over high heat, or using leftover rice that is drier than rice freshly steamed, you may find the final product too soggy. If you know you prefer the drier, more crusty fried rice— be prepared with a heavy duty wok or pan to use. That way you can stir fry you rice longer, and scrape the stuck rice at the center of the wok to free the toastiest bits before they burn (not the best use of your non stick pan). Don’t be surprised to find cooks who love their fried rice this style, even throwing the wok or skillet of fried rice into the oven for a crispy finish.
Tom Yum Fried Rice
Equipment: mortar and pestle (preferably stone), wok
1 cup of rice
70-100g of protein (we used tofu)
1 tbsp of oil
30g tomato (plum or less watery tomatoes work better)
2 kaffir lime leaves
2 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp of sweet chili jam (nam prik pow)
Optional: Lime to squeeze on top and spring onion for garnish
Tom Yum Paste Ingredients:
1 tbsp of minced galangal
1 tbsp of thin sliced lemongrass
2 chili (optional)
Prep all your ingredients. In mortar and pestle, pound lemongrass, galangal and chili together. Set aside.
Chop your proteins bite sized or smaller.
In a wok over medium heat, add a tbsp of cooking oil.
Add your proteins (If using tender meats like shrimp, you can set aside after cooking) and stir until mostly cooked.
Then add your paste and allow to become aromatic. Followed closely by your onions.
When your proteins are cooked and other ingredients smell nice, add your mushrooms and tomato.
Now you’re ready to add your rice. Mix with everything and add soy sauce and chili paste.
Stir fry until ingredients are well incorporated, or you have achieved the desired texture (give it an extra few minutes if you prefer a dry fried rice).
Plate and garnish, reminding your guests to squeeze their lime wedge over the top before enjoying.
The past few weeks have been a trying time for everyone around the world. Wherever you are reading from, we do wish you good health and would like to share our concern and condolences to anyone who has been directly impacted by the corona virus Covid-19.
At the moment we have few guests or activities planned. However, if you do have a cooking class booked, we want to make sure everyone is aware, we consider your health, and the health of our staff is of the utmost importance.
As an organization whose mission is so closely tied to the handling and cooking of food, we are well prepared to make sure we maintain a safe working and learning environment. We need your help to continue to follow the best practices during this time, and support organizations like ours that work with communities particularly vulnerable to viral disease.
This includes our regular hygienic equipment: * Air conditioning * Air purifier * Anti-bacterial soap * Water filtering and purifying
Our regular hygiene practices: * Sanitizing surfaces * Soap at every sink (there’s 3!) * Limited class size
And new policies: * Postponed or canceled gatherings with over 10 people * No new volunteers will be accepted * Refusing guests with symptoms of illness or poor hygiene * Refunding guests as necessary (minus any booking fees) * Providing more online recipes and cooking courses for you (if you have a request let us know!)
To limit the spread of the virus we may need to refuse service to guests or refund guests who are unable to visit due to travel restrictions. We apologize in advance for any inconvenience this causes.
Like so many people around the world, we’re still trying to wrap our minds around going from daily cooking classes to only a few a month. Our social enterprise is crippled, but we hope to one day get it roaring again. If you would like to help through donations, they would be greatly appreciated and put to use helping those in need.
In the meantime, we will still be working with marginalized youth and their families in small groups. As there is often poor information in these communities, we’re hoping to teach people and prevent the spread of the virus to their communities. Otherwise, we will be testing recipes and hopefully sharing more pdf and video resources so that you can join us in cooking delicious Thai food wherever you may be.
Thank you for your understanding, be safe, and let us know if you’ve got a Thai recipe request that would brighten your day!
Today’s recipe is a favorite, a quick Thai style green curry filled with veggies. The emphasis of this plant based recipe is to use the curry as a vehicle for nutrition. Got certain veggies the kids don’t like? Drop them in green curry paste to help change their mind.
In addition to lots of vegetable, this recipe uses healthier noodles than you typically get in Thai restaurants. We chose brown rice noodles with chia seed, but we’re seeing a great variety of interesting noodles these days in the super markets and encourage you to explore using them when you have the opportunity.
If you have time, making your own curry paste is always best, and we usually teach guests in our Bangkok cooking classes exactly how. However, today’s recipe is aimed at busy people using a curry paste packet. Grab curry packets at your local grocery store, but before you purchase, flip them over and check the ingredient list. Many curries include shrimp paste, or other meat based flavoring. There are lots of choices, but we usually recommend the Kanokwan and WorldFoods brands as good options.
Once you’ve got your curry paste and coconut milk on standby, you’re nearly ready to cook. We use fresh coconut whenever possible, but we tested this recipe with canned coconut milk because we know it is easier to find for readers outside of Thailand. So use quick version of green curry on a busy night, remembering not to stress too much about certain ingredients.
Feel free to mix and match the veggies of your choice in the green curry. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time for more dense veggies, so that everything is tender when you serve. If you already keep lots of veggies prepped in the fridge from salads and other recipes, for example cherry tomatoes, this will decrease the amount of prep time. Finally, check that you have the classic Thai seasoning ingredients such as soy sauce and palm sugar.
Thai Green Curry Recipe
Prep Time: 10-15 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Feeds: 1 – 2 people
Skill Level: Intermediate
Diets: Gluten-free, Halal, Plant Based, Vegetarian, Vegan, Nut-Free and for soy-free replace the soy sauce with salt.
Green Curry Ingredients
Curry paste 50g
Coconut Milk 1 cup
Rice Noodles 60g
Light Soy Sauce 1 tbsp
Miso 1 tsp
Palm sugar (aka coconut sugar) 2 tsp
Thai basil leaves 1 small handful
Green peppercorn 1 branch
Fingerroot 1 tbsp
Large chili – 1 fruit
Kaffir lime leaf – 2 leaves
Cherry tomato 3-4 fruit*
Orinji mushrooms 20g
Green okra 2 pieces
Micro greens 50g (we used a mix of sunflower, radish, and morning glory sprouts)
Moonflower 4 buds
Baby corn 2 cobs
Pea eggplant 5 fruit
Green Curry Instructions
Wash and prep all of your fresh veggies and herbs. You want to cut them so they cook quickly and are easy to eat. Fingerroot is not essential, but if you can find it, cut into small thin strips. Cut your cherry tomatoes in half. Julienne your okra, baby corn, and mushroom.
The protein source in this recipe is tofu. Firm tofu is best, rinse and cut into large squares.
Setup a pot of water to boil. Add your noodles when boiling. All noodles are different, refer to the instructions on the noodles you purchased for cooking time. Set a timer, rice noodles typically take 5-10 minutes once boiling. When finished strain and set aside.
Place your wok over low to medium heat and add your curry paste. Stir until fragrant, add a tablespoon of coconut milk to keep your paste from burning.
When fragrant add your most dense herbs and vegetables so they can begin cooking first. For example, pea eggplant, fingerroot, and kaffir lime leaf.
Next add your tofu, allowing it to mix with the green curry. Add more spoons of coconut milk to be sure nothing is burning, but the goal is to soften the tougher ingredients and bring out the aroma. This means a little bit of char on your tofu or veggies is fine, just be careful not to over do it, or leave your wok unattended.
When everything smells good and begins to soften, begin adding the remainder of your coconut milk, followed by the remaining veggies (except micro greens and basil). You’re in the home stretch with your curry, congrats.
Allow to simmer on medium heat while seasoning with light soy sauce, miso, and palm sugar.
If the soft veggies are suitably cooked, turn your heat off and add the handful of sweet basil and micro greens. In a pinch, Italian basil can be substituted for sweet basil. Both however, take little to no time to cook. Stir the leaves in your hot curry for a few moments until wilted.
You did it! Your nutritious Thai dinner is ready in under an hour. Pat yourself on the back while plating your noodle first, followed by gently ladling your vegetables and curry over the top.
If serving guests who are unfamiliar with the hard aromatics, like kaffir lime leaf and green peppercorn, take the liberty to remove them when plating.
We’re hosting our very first plant based cooking class in Bangkok. The event will be a Thai language class taking place on Monday, March 23rd at 3pm. Guests who book will have the opportunity to learn how to make 5 plant based dishes. The workshop style dinner experience should be a fun time of learning and celebrating healthy eating together.
Instruction for the class will be in Thai, led by Panisha Chanwilai, a manager at Courageous Kitchen. Panisha grew up helping her mom in the kitchen, who let her assist, as she made spicy Southern Thai dishes. Panisha converted from the hectic office lifestyle and diet, to become a food and nutrition enthusiast. Today she is a plant based eating devotee and trainer, endlessly experimenting with new ingredients. She will share about her journey, and why she believes plant based eating may be more simple than you believe.
The workshop and dinner is aimed at busy Thais who may not have time to do recipe research or spend hours cooking. Panisha has done her best to simplify a few of her favorite dishes, and is excited to share them with an open minded group. She hopes all of the participants walk away more confident in their ability to create healthy, nutritious meals at home.
The dishes include:
1. Spicy Smoked Eggplant Dip, Nam Prik Ma Kua Yao น้ำพริกมะเขือยาว
2. Spicy Mushroom Salad, Yum Hed Ruam ยำเห็ดรวม
3. Stir Fried Red Curry with Tempeh, Tempeh Pad Prik Kaeng เทมเป้ผัดพริกแกง
4. Essential Veggie Soup, Kaeng Jued แกงจืดหมูก้อนวีแกน
5. Coconut Snowballs, Kanom Tom ขนมต้ม
The cost to participate in this inaugural plant based cooking class is 1000 baht per person. The dinner is limited to 15 participants and takes place in Panisha’s home in Sukhumvit 101/1. Book your seat by sending your bank transfer receipt to line id panisha_p. Detailed directions will be sent to all confirmed guests.