Prawn and sweet potato massaman curry – A mild and mellow Thai broth made with succulent tiger prawns and tender chunks of brightly coloured sweet potato.
Out of all the curries on the planet the massaman is definitely a favourite. I’ll order in the odd Indian from time to time and enjoy a biryani, a masala, or a jalfrezi now and again. If I’m doing a curry at home though, i’ll nearly always opt for a mild and creamy Thai massaman.
The massaman curry is quite unique. It gives you the best of both worlds, both Indian and Thai. It’s an infusion of all those pungent flavours you associate with south-east asia. Coconut, lime, garlic, chilli, ginger, and lemongrass, plus a list of Indian spices that ordinarily would have no business in a Thai curry. Cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, and turmeric all feature in the curry paste used to make a massaman.
There’s a couple of theories on the origins of the massaman and how these fragrant Indian spices ever ended up it a Thai curry in the first place. Some say that the dish came from southern Thailand where the food is a bit more influenced by Malay and Indian cuisine. However according to one of my favourite chefs and renowned Thai food guru David Thompson the dish originated in the royal Thai court in the 17th century, brought over by Persian merchants.
What ever its origins the cook who first put it together was ingenious. Blending such a long list of different herbs and spices was either a lucky accident or took a lot of thought and skill.