The Indian and Muslim cuisines present distinct approaches to using dried spices in curries, both of which influence Siamese cuisine in different ways. Indian-inspired Siamese curries spotlight chilies for their vibrant color, fragrance, flavor and heat, while spices like cumin and coriander play a supporting role. The spices complement and temper the chilies’ intensity, creating a rounded, multi-layered flavor profile; nonetheless, the chilies remain the star ingredient, gently complemented by the spices.
Conversely, Muslim-influenced curries, such as massaman curry, prioritize spices over chilies. Spices like cardamom, nutmeg and mace take center stage, while the chilies provide subtle background heat rather than being the primary flavor. In these curries, the focus is on the rich, warm and complex aromas created by the blend of spices, which is a defining characteristic of many Muslim dishes.
Moreover, Siamese cuisine favors using rehydrated dried chilies in curries for their depth; this depth is highly appreciated, along with the complexity, and comparatively milder heat of the rehydrated dried chilies. As well, the harsh grassy notes of fresh chilies are not favored; they’re referred to in Thai as “green rank” or “men khiaao (เหม็นเขียว)”. Muslim curries often use fresh green chilies, tempering their vibrant, grassy taste with dry spices and thus shifting the flavor from bright and fresh to more subdued and earthy tones, resulting in a dish that is perceived to be layered, despite the burst of fresh chilies.
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This flavorful butter-based beef curry features relatively large pieces of beef that have been slow-braised in coconut milk until fork-tender and succulent. The curry paste is made from fresh green chilies and a wide array of dry spices deployed in abundance. The curry is seasoned to a salty-sweet flavor profile and utilizes Thai basil to evoke the quintessential licorice-anise essence of Thai spicy gaaeng phet (แกงเผ็ด) curries, Kaffir lime leaf informs a final citrus touch, and golden, crispy fried shallots add visual appeal and whisper of sweetness with an Islamic flair. This curry tastefully brings together Siamese culinary traditions and attributes of Muslim cuisine, integrating the warmth of dry spices with the liveliness of fresh chilies and the brightness of aromatics. The result is a layered, fragrant beef curry that combines the best of these culinary heritages.
To prepare this flavorful curry, start by cutting the beef into large pieces and searing them in ghee until golden on all sides; adding a halved yellow onion to the pan helps to deodorize the potent aroma of the ghee. Once the beef is fully seared, transfer it to a pot and braise it on low heat in light coconut cream infused with the onion, black peppercorns and bay leaves until very tender.
While the beef is braising, make the curry paste using fresh Thai chilies, following the standard phrik khing (พริกขิง) recipe, but add equal, lavish amounts of the dry spices, a nod to the dish’s Islamic origins. Next, fry the spice-laden curry paste in a brass wok with coconut cream and ghee until the rawness is tempered and the paste caramelizes to a glistening hue. As you fry the paste, continue adding tiny amounts of dry spices to create a more layered experience, relying solely on your sense of smell to gauge the precise quantities for optimal re-layering.
Next, add the fork-tender braised beef to the wok and dilute to the desired consistency with beef broth or a lighter chicken broth. Begin seasoning with fish sauce, then add half as much palm sugar, to a salty-sweet flavor profile. Then add sliced young green chilies and allow them to slightly soften.
Remove from the heat and add hand-torn kaffir lime leaves and handpicked Thai basil leaves, allowing their herbal essence to blossom. Serve the curry garnished with crispy fried shallots.
|Use fresh green chilies
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- 500 g beef (เนื้อวัว)
- coconut milk (หางกะทิ)
- 5 young green long chili (phrik noom) (พริกหนุ่ม) or fresh banana chili (phrik yuak) (พริกหยวก)
- 5 kaffir lime leaves (ใบมะกรูด)
- 1 cup Thai basil (ใบโหระพา)
To braise the beef (optional)
- 2 tablespoons clarified butter (ghee) (เนยกี)
- 1 yellow onion (หอมใหญ่) halved
- 1/4 cup coconut cream (หัวกะทิ)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- 4 pods Siam Cardamom pods (luuk grawaan) (ลูกกระวาน) (S4)
- 1 dried bay leaves (ใบกระวาน)
- 5 cups water (น้ำเปล่า)
For the curry paste:
- 1/2 cup fresh green long chili (phrik chee fa) (พริกชี้ฟ้าเขียว)
- fresh green Thai bird’s eye chili (phrik kee noo) (พริกขี้หนูเขียว)
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (เกลือทะเล)
- 2 1/2 tablespoons lemongrass (ตะไคร้) thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons galangal (ข่า) thinly sliced
- 1 teaspoon kaffir lime zest (ผิวมะกรูด)
- 1 tablespoon Thai garlic (กระเทียมไทย) thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons shallots (หอมแดง) thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fermented shrimp paste (kapi)(กะปิย่างไฟ) grilled
- 1 teaspoon white peppercorns (พริกไทย) (S1) roasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (malet phak chee) (เมล็ดผักชี) (S2) roasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (malet yeeraa) (เมล็ดยี่หร่า) (S3) roasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon Siam Cardamom pods (luuk grawaan) (ลูกกระวาน) (S4) roasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg seed (ลูกจันทน์เทศ) (S5) roasted and ground
- 1 teaspoon mace (ดอกจันทน์เทศ) (S6) roasted and ground
- 4 cloves clove (กานพลู) (S7) roasted and ground
- 1 1/2 parts fish sauce (น้ำปลา)
- 1/2 part palm sugar (น้ำตาลมะพร้าว)
- fresh green Thai bird’s eye chili (phrik kee noo) (พริกขี้หนูเขียว)
Braise the Beef:
- Cut the beef into large pieces.
- Heat ghee in a pan and add a halved yellow onion. This step helps to neutralize the strong aroma of the ghee.
- Sear the beef pieces until golden on all sides.
- Once seared, transfer the beef to a pot.
- Braise on low heat in light coconut cream. Add the onion, white peppercorns, bay leaves and a pinch of salt.
- Simmer on low heat until the beef is very tender.
Prepare the curry paste:
- An overview of the curry paste ingredients.
- An overview of the dry spices and fermented shrimp paste (kapi).
- Roast and grind the spices, starting with the white peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, Siam cardamom, nutmeg, mace and clove. The spices are ground separately and kept separate until they are used in the dish.
- Pound the curry paste, starting with the fresh green chilies and salt.
- Gradually add the other ingredients, from the driest to the wet. Pound the paste until it is *smooth with a rounded aroma.
- Add the dried spices, and pound to a smooth paste. Start with the ground white peppercorns
- Add the roasted and ground coriander seeds.
- Add the roasted and ground cumin seeds.
- Add the roasted and ground Siam cardamom.
- Add the roasted and ground nutmeg.
- Add the roasted and ground mace.
- Add the roasted and ground clove.
- Add the fermented shrimp paste (kapi) and keep pounding until a rounded aroma is achieved.
- Remove the curry paste and set it aside. Wash the mortar and pestle with about one cup of plain water and reserve the liquids.
Cook the curry:
- In a brass wok, heat the coconut cream with clarified butter until it thickens and oil appears.
- Add the bay leaves, and three whole pods of clove and Siam cardamom each.
- Add the curry paste.
- Fry the paste until it loses its rawness.
- As you fry, continue to add the dry spices multiple times. Use your sense of smell to determine the amount.
- Add the braised beef.
- Stop the frying with plain water and the liquids collected from cleaning the mortar and pestle.
- Important: At this stage, in order to separate the oil particles created during the paste frying process from the rest of the broth, mix gently to avoid re-emulsification of the oil.
- Season to a salty leading with a sweet floor flavor profile – and taste before seasoning! Start by seasoning the salty element using fish sauce.
- When you are satisfied with the saltiness, add palm sugar at the ratio indicated.
Adding the herbs:
- Turn off the heat before adding the Thai basil. Spread the Thai basil equally on top of the curry and gently push it into the broth, allowing it to wilt down. Do not stir vigorously!
- Add the torn kaffir lime leaves.
Perfumed Braised Beef and Potato Curry with Three Gingers, Thai Basil and Bitter Orange (แกงเนื้อใส่เปราะหอมสดและส้มซ่า; Gaaeng Neuua Sai Bpraw Haawm Soht Lae Sohm Saa)
Discovered in a memorial book for the funeral of SubLt. Soophoht Jeungpraphaa (ร.ต. สุพจน์ จึงประภา) (1925-1966), this beef and potato curry dish unites two distinct curry styles: Massaman curry, known for its sweet and warming complexity of dry spices, punctuated by the vibrancy of bitter orange juice; and gaaeng phet (แกงเผ็ด) spicy curry, dominated by a basil herbal identity. The recipe maintains a sense of traditional elegance despite the startlingly unusual culinary fusion; as these two cooking styles are woven together, their spiced comfort, earthy warmth, citrusy freshness, and cool herbaceous notes meld in a gentle refinement. Drawing upon familiar and novel elements, this curry is both comforting and stimulating.
Massaman curry typically presents as a deep, rich dish. Its unique flavor profile is derived predominantly from a range of dry spices that point to its Persian-inspired roots in Siamese cuisine, along with a curry paste that exudes a sense of freshness. The dried chilis are roasted to deepen their color; the rest of the ingredients, such as the shallots, garlic and dry spices, are roasted too, individually, before being pounded into the paste. Conversely, the gaaeng phet (แกงเผ็ด) curry integrates dry spices more sparingly and is known for flavor qualities that are based on a phrik khing (พริกขิง) paste made of fresh aromatics and a basil herbal identity.
Beef Phanaeng Curry and Ancient Grilled Phanaeng Chicken Curry (พะแนงเนื้อ และ ไก่ผะแนง จากตำราอาหารที่เก่าสุดในสยาม)
Breaking news: The oldest Thai cookbook, as well as history’s first-ever recorded recipe for Phanaeng curry, are revealed for the first time on Thaifoodmaster.com – A 126-year-old cookbook written by one of Siam’s most revered singers, Maawm Sohm Jeen (Raa Chaa Noopraphan) (หม่อมซ่มจีน, ราชานุประพันธุ์), has been rediscovered, offering a unique glimpse into the culinary repertoire of 19th-century Siam. In this chapter we examine the different forms of phanaeng curry from the 1800s to the present day, as we reconstruct the 19th-century version and craft step-by-step a traditional beef phanaeng curry.
Thai Green Curry with Roasted Duck and Young Chilies (แกงเขียวหวานเป็ดย่าง ; gaaeng khiaao waan bpet yang)
Green curry, with its mellow, creamy green color and rich coconut base, has both fresh and mature flavors. Like new growth on plants, it brings brightness, youthfulness, spring and rebirth to the meltdown of flavors created in the curry paste.
The green curry paste uses mainly the same standard ingredients as Thai spicy-red curry paste: lemongrass, coriander roots, kaffir lime zest, galangal, garlic, shallots, white peppercorns, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, salt and kapi.
The type of chilies – fresh, dried or rehydrated – and how they are processed into the curry paste have a significant influence on the dish’s flavor, color, aroma and heat profile. Fresh chilies inject an immediate, sharp spike of heat that rushes in with a piercing, punctuating intensity, a grassy aroma and fruity liveliness. Dried chilies, on the other hand, impart a subtle warmth alongside rich, earthy notes that gradually build up into a steady, lingering burn. The choice of the chili variety will also shape the curry’s flavor. Through an informed selection and processing of chilies, cooks can navigate between mild and spicy, fruity and earthy, and bright and mellow flavors, creating a complex and nuanced heart for their curries.
c1933 Water-based spicy curry of fatty chicken and seven spices (แกงเผ็ดไก่น้ำมัน พ.ศ. 2476; gaaeng phet gai naam man)
This water-based, spicy chicken curry is made with corn-yellow rendered chicken fat instead of coconut cream. Dark reddish-brown in color, this full-bodied and fatty beak-to-tail curry presents the chicken identity and personality in both a corporeal and tasty manner. Spices such as cardamom, nutmeg, mace and clove are added into the curry paste to temper the gamey-irony flavor of the offal and deodorize the meat, resulting in a luscious dish that is beautifully layered with textures and flavors.