A couple months back, I read CNNGo's article declaring massaman curry the world's most delicious food. So I had to try it, and I had a fantastic portion of it at Blue Elephant in Cincinnati. I'm not sure it was the most delicious food I've ever eaten -- it wasn't a Hortobágyi palacsinta -- but it was pretty darn close. So, of course, I was going to make it.
Curry fits well with my Whole30 plan, just a couple adjustments.
First, traditional massman curry has both sugar and potatoes in it. Those both have to go. But I know a trick for sweetening stews and soups without sugar. That's right, the rutabaga. Many root vegetables that are allowed with Whole30, low-carb, or paleo diets are sweet. A rutabaga has half the carbohydrates of a potato of the same weight, and will actually sweeten the curry. Carrots help too. If you find you still want a bit more sweetness, adding finely-shredded unsweetened coconut will help out.
Second, many curry recipes are thickened with flour. Any recipe that uses curry paste is, as the pastes contain flour. So my curry was just a bit thin. I did not mind this, but if you do, you could try pureeing some of the cooked carrot and rutabaga and adding it back in as a thickener.
Third, I was having a hard time finding a tamarind paste. I used lime juice as a substitute. They serve the same function, to add a sour note to balance the dish.
Finally, I served mine with cauliflower rice.
Massaman Thai Curry
2 lb stewing beef (or chicken)
1 medium rutabaga, cut into large pieces
1 green pepper, cut into large chunks
1 onion, cut into large chunks
1 carrot, cut into chunks
1 can coconut milk
1 red chili, sliced
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, grated
4-5 cloves garlic
1/2 c. chicken stock (Meijer's "Natural" brand doesn't have sugar)
2 Tbsp Curry powder (I used McCormick Organic)
1 tsp ground coriander
3 bay leaves
juice of one small lime
olive or coconut oil for frying
Cut the onion, rutabaga, carrot, and green pepper into pieces large enough to use chopsticks with (think of the way takeout Chinese food cuts the veggies). Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sweat the onion, garlic, ginger and chili in the oil. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces and add salt and pepper. Brown the meat. Remove the meat from the pan and deglaze with the chicken stock. Add the tomato paste, curry powder, coriander, lime juice and bay to the pan. Bring to a boil. Return the meat to the pan and add the coconut milk, rutabaga, green pepper, and carrots. Lower heat to a simmer and cook until the rutabaga is tender (about 30 minutes). Remove the bay leaves and serve over cauliflower rice.