At the gym a lot of the members are going to be doing a Paleo Diet 30 Day Challenge. This is the first time I am not involved in one of these challenges. Right now my mind-set is not focused on this part of my recovery and joining in would only put one team into a deficit situation causing them to lose the challenge. However that does not mean I cannot eat well and provide a recipe for a tasty meal. I chose to lead off with the one world’s most popular Thai dish the famous Masaman Curry which meets all the requirements of the Paleo challenge at the gym as they have decided to include “honey” this time around. Honey is the only modification to this recipe as  the Thai people use Palm Sugar in their recipe.

I got this recipe from Thai teacher who taught Home Economics and worked in cookery lab since 1974 in Bangkok.

What you need is a good heavy mortar and pestle, I have a stone mortar and pestle that I brought back from Phuket in my luggage and that is another story altogether. You can use any type of meat, chicken, pork or beef as it is interchangeable. In Thai cooking, no times are provided as it is done through taste, smell and feel. which makes it hard to replicate each time but provides a new flavour experience each time you do a dish.

Spice mixture for Masaman: 3 dried chillies, seeds removed, soaked in water – 1 tsp of salt – 1 tsp minced roasted “Galangal” (ginger can be used if none available) – 1 heaping tbsp thinly sliced roasted lemon grass – 5 roasted shallots – 2 roasted garlic bulbs – 2 cloves roasted and ground – 1 tbsp ground roasted coriander seeds – 1 tsp ground roasted cumin seeds – 5 peppercorns – 1 tsp shrimp paste

Place spice mixture in mortar and pound until ground and mixed thoroughly.

The other ingredients: 1/2 kg of choice of meat – 3 cups of coconut milk – 2 tbsp roasted peanuts – 5 peeled onions (100 grams) – 5 small sweet potatoes cut in large pieces – 3 bay leaves – 5 roasted cardamom pods – 1 piece of roasted cinnamon 1 cm long – 3 tbsp honey – 3 tbsp tamarind juice – 3 tbsp lemon juice

Cut choice of meat in 2 inch chunks

Place two cups of coconut milk in a pot (large enough to hold all the ingredients) with the choice of meat and simmer until tender. If you use beef use more coconut milk for the longer cooking time required.

Heat remaining coconut milk in another pot then add spice mixture and cook until fragrant (see no cooking time use your nose). Pour into pot with meat and add peanuts. Taste and adjust the flavour as it is sweet, salty and sour by adding tamarind juice, honey and lemon juice. Add bay leaves, cardamoms, cinnamon, sweet potatoes and onion and simmer until tender.

Serve with an assortment of pickled veggies – I have my own pickled carrots and I use pickled ginger as well  – or a salad.

Pounding the spices is the longest part of this recipe for time. Once they are ready the process does not take that long.