Red Massaman Chicken
I made this for dinner the other night and it went down a bomb. Now you might think that something going ‘down a bomb’ was a bad thing but no, here in Ireland it’s the opposite. There are so many expressions that we use that, to be properly understood, require an insight into the Irish psyche. We do sarcasm and ridicule very, very well. For example if I was to say to you ‘I will yeah’ and you are an American you will probably think that I am in agreement about something but if you were to listen intently you will notice the lengthy stressing of the ‘yeaaaah’ and you will understand that in fact what is meant is that ‘I absolutely will not.’ Likewise if I were to say ‘I will in my hole’, that does not mean that I am retreating to some hidden cave to do something but in fact means ‘I have no intention whatsoever…’ We’re also great at the slagging (teasing) which can be harmless but if something is prefaced with ‘no offence but….’ you’re just about to be insulted. We don’t do compliments well, either in the giving or the taking and insults are hoarded like gold coins to be churned out ad infinitum and never forgotten.
Feeding people though, we’re good at that. On a visit to Canada in the summer as a young student I was well looked after by friends of my parents and friends of their friends in turn. Barbeques by a lakeshore with incredible steaks, foil baked roast potatoes and sweetcorn. Wherever you go Irish people will feed you. I’ll always remember when we called unannounced to a particular family who were just about to have dinner when the matriarch swiftly produced extra plates and effortlessly dished out plenty for everyone. ‘My mother always told me to put on extra potatoes,’ she said, ‘just in case.’ Which brings me to this massaman curry, the link being the potatoes and I can guarantee that you if you decide to throw on a few extra potatoes they won’t go astray but will soak up the delicious sauce and can be savoured reheated for lunch the next day.
As this is recipe No. 4 of 12 from Enjoy! before Christmas I’d like to suggest that this would be an excellent way of using up chunks of left-over turkey meat come the holiday season just substitute in your cooked turkey for the chicken and you’re set for some spicy comfort.
Note on equipment: As this makes a large quantity, you need to have:
- 1 large, wide frying pan to cook the chicken with the massaman paste
- 1 large frying pan or griddle pan to cook the vegetables separately
- 1 large saucepan to combine the chicken and vegetables
- Mini-chopper and/or food processor for the massaman paste ( You could use with a fine julienne attachment or a julienne peeler for the carrots or simply make your own by cutting to matchstick size with knife)
You will need:
350g baby potatoes (approx. 8–10 baby potatoes)
1 medium onion
2 tbsp rapeseed or coconut oil
4 chicken breasts
Half a red pepper (second half will be used in paste below– no waste!)
4 spring onions
150g fine green beans
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
250g cherry tomatoes
750ml vegetable stock
1 x 400ml tin of full-fat coconut milk
Handful of salted peanuts, roughly crushed, to serve
For the massaman paste: (You will Need:)
5 cardamom pods
Half a red pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
Thumb-size chunk of fresh ginger, grated
2 tbsp lemongrass paste (or 2 lemongrass stalks, finely chopped)
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp hot chill powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
Microwave the baby potatoes, skin on, with a splash of water for about 4 minutes, until firm but just turning tender. Cut in half and set aside.
Finely chop the onion. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, wide frying pan over a low heat. Add the chopped onion and leave to soften for 5 minutes. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces, then add to the onion and turn the heat up to medium. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the massaman paste, bash the cardamom pods – a pestle and mortar is good for this job – to release the seeds and discard the husks. Use a mini-chopper or food processor to blitz all the massaman ingredients, including the cardamom seeds, into a paste. Add the massaman paste to the chicken, turn the heat up to high and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Cut the red pepper into thin slices, slice the spring onions and halve the green beans. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a second frying pan over a high heat and toss in the sliced red pepper, spring onions, green beans, rinsed mangetout, julienned carrots and whole cherry tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes, tossing occasionally.
Put the semi-cooked chicken into a large saucepan and add the vegetable stock and coconut milk, mixing well. Turn the heat up to high, then add the cooked vegetables and the cooked halved baby potatoes. If necessary, add some additional vegetable stock to cover all the chicken and vegetables.
Once the massaman begins to just about bubble, reduce the heat to a low simmer and leave it to finish cooking with the lid on for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with fluffy boiled rice with a scattering of crushed salted peanuts over the top.
‘Til next time, Sheila.