Matsaman curry gets its entire flavor from the rich combination of spices, palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind sauce.
I love the way the richness of the beef come through the spices with a clear three tastes; starting with sweet followed by sour and then salty. The addition of the potatoes thickens the curry just enough and the roasted peanuts add a beautiful crunchy tone.
No wonder this dish, somewhat a newcomer to the Thai cuisine, was crowned by some authors as the most complex and time consuming Thai curry to make.
Matsaman is believed to have arrived Siam with the first Persian envoy to the court of Ayutthaya in the 16th century.
Grandma Waow Wongthai, Now 92 years old, is well familiar with authentic Thai cooking since childhood. Her father used to be a “Than khun” (ท่านขุน ; Non-hereditary Thai royal title) and she often cooked for the many guests who visited their home. Matsaman beef curry is one of the dishes she is still renowned for.
The following version of Beef Matsaman curry is Grandma Waow’s recipe
I have made it countless times myself, and not surprisingly, Matsaman curry never tasted better than that!
Note: If you like curries with the thickness and complexity of the Matsaman Curry, you will surely enjoy Northern Style Hang Lay Curry.
Beef Matsaman Curry Recipe
- 500gr Beef, cut into 2 inches cubes
- 6 cups Coconut milk
- 1 cup Coconut cream
- 2 1/2 TBS Palm sugar
- 5 TBS Tamarind sauce
- 5 TBS Fish sauce
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/2 cup Roasted peanuts
- 2 Big Onions cut into quarters
- 4 Thai black Cardamon pods
- 1/2 cup of vegetable oil
For the Curry Paste you will need:
- 1 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
- 4 Cloves
- 4 Peeled Thai black Cardamon pods.
- 1 inch Cinnamon bark
- 1 Dried Mace (ดอกจันทร์)
- 1 Inner part of Nutmeg nut (ลูกจันทร์)
- 9 Long dry Chilies
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp White pepper corns
- 1 TBS Galangal
- 2 Lemongrass
- peel of 1/2 kaffir lime
- 12 big or 30 small Thai garlic cloves
- 5 Small Thai Shallots
- 1 tsp Shrimp paste (kapi)
- work well freshly grated coconut with approximately the same amount of lukewarm water
- strain and keep aside. the first squeeze is mostly consists of coconut cream, the cream separates and floats on top of the thinner liquid. one good coconut yields about a cup of coconut cream
- repeat the process to extract the coconut milk.
- cut the beef into small egg size chunks
- arrange the beef in a cooking pot and fill with coconut milk to cover
- bring to a boil
- skim off the scum
- cover and cook for couple of hours, or until the beef is very tender and soft
- check often and add liquids as necessary
- set aside
- in a small saucepan dissolve tamarind pulps with boiling water, strain and set aside
- in a small saucepan soak dry red chilies in boiling water until soft, strain and set aside
- slightly roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon bark, whole nutmeg nut, mace, cardamon and cloves.
- roast until very fragrant. be careful not to burn the spices.
- finely ground the spices in a mortar and pestle. set aside
- finely chop (in this order) lemongrass, galanga, garlic shallots and kaffir lime peel. set aside
- start making the curry paste by pounding the red chilies with a bit of salt as an abrasive
- gradually add the chopped ingredients, starting with the hardest ingredient to the softer
- the paste should be as fine as possible, eliminating all the textures of the raw ingredients preserving only their flavors
- add white pepper corns and shrimp paste
- add the finely ground spices and mix well. the end product should have a combined, full and rounded aroma
- in a small saucepan fry the curry paste with 1/2 cup of oil
- gradually add the coconut cream and cook until the coconut cracks
- pour the curry paste and coconut cream over the cooked meat
- when boils, add potatoes and cook until soft
- add onions and cook for extra 5 minutes
- season with palm sugar, tamarind sauce, salt and fish sauce. taste and adjust flavors
- finish with freshly roasted peanuts and unpeeled black Thai cardamon pods
- cook for another last 3 minutes….