Monday, October 24, 2011

Great Eats: Massaman/Green Curry with Thai Basil & Bell Peppers

Of all the curries I've made, I am torn between the green and massaman curries, for being my absolute favorite. The green curries are great for their adaptability and the slightly sweet, light flavor that still carries enough heat to clear your sinuses. The massaman curries are hearty, flavorful and with the addition of lotus root, a thrilling addition to any palate.

So one day, I found myself with all the ingredients for a green curry, but no green curry paste and with a freshly opened jar of massaman curry paste. Not wanting to see my thai eggplant and thai basil wilt, I decided to toss caution to the wind and combine the two. Before, I tried doing the same with a red curry and it did not go over too well, so I was hesitant. But, with a few alterations to my "base" recipe, it came out beyond splendid!

Recipe follows break!

At the time, I was missing a few ingredients, so this recipe is pretty bare, and therefore, a good place to start. I would've been glad to add tofu, or bamboo shoots - so feel free to experiment with whatever's on hand.

2 thai eggplant, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, & 1 green bell pepper - seeds removed and diced
2 tbs cooking oil
3 heaping tablespoons of massaman curry paste (Mae Ploy is my brand of choice, but you're welcome to make your own!)
1 can coconut milk, unshaken

2 tbs palm sugar

3 or 4 fresh bay leaves

1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
1 tbs fish sauce (omit or use tamarind pulp to make vegetarian)
A few shakes of crushed red pepper flakes (to taste - the massaman paste is not spicy)
Large pinch of cumin & coriander (I like to add more spices in along with the curry paste for a more vibrant taste)
Lime juice
A handful of thai basil leaves
Rice, to serve with.

First prep by peeling and dicing the eggplant, by removing the seeds from the peppers and dicing those as well. Then, heat your wok or large skillet and add a bit of oil, until it's hot. Add the curry paste, along with a few tablespoons of the coconut cream from the top of your can of coconut milk. Stir the mixture for a minute or so, without letting it burn - add some water, or more coconut cream and keep it moving. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk, add the palm sugar, bay leaves and heat until it's almost boiling. Then, add in your vegetables to the mix and stir, until they're coated with the mixture.

You can add up to a cup of water to make more sauce, which is the best part. Let it all cook for a bit, then begin adding the remaining ingredients one by one. Stir once in a while and add spices to taste. Not salty? Add lime juice. Not spicy? Add more pepper flakes. Don't cook it too long, however, or risk the eggplant turning to mush and squeeze 1/3 of a lime over the entire dish for a delicious finishing touch.Cook until it's soft and at the very end, add a heaping amount of the Thai basil, turn off the heat, stir and enjoy!

Best served with a side of basmati rice.

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