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Mussamun Curry

5 cups coconut milk
2 pounds boneless beef. cut into 2 inch chunks (or 3 pounds chicken thighs)
1 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup mussamun curry paste
3 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons tamarind liquid
12 whole cardamom pods
6 cinnamon sticks
2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 2 inch chunks
1 large onion, cut lengthwise into thick wedges
1/2 cup dry-roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

In a large saucepan, bring the coconut milk to barely a boil over
medium heat. Add the beef chunks and simmer until the beef is
tender, 1 hour.

Ina small heavy skillet over medium heat, bring the coconut cream
to just boiling. Simmer for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The cream will become fragrant as it thickens. When small drops
of oil come to the surface, add curry paste and stir to dissolve.
Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes.

Scrape the curry paste into the pot with the beef; stir well. Add
fish sauce, sugar, tamarind, cardamom, cinnamon and potatoes.
Simmer 10 minutes. Add onions and peanuts and simmer until potatoes
are cooked. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more sugar, fish
sauce and tamarind as desired. Add a little lime juice before

For chicken, omit simmering in coconut milk step; make curry paste
first, then combine with chicken and coconut milk.

Curry Paste

1/2 cup small dried red chiles
2 tablespoons whole cumin seed
1 teaspoon whole coriander seed
1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground mace
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3 stalks fresh lemongrass
1 tablespoon chopped fresh galanga or fresh ginger
2 teaspons salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped garlic
1/2 cup coarsely chopped onion
1 tablespoon shrimp paste

Stem chiles and shake out seeds. Coarsely chop and place in small
bowl. Add warm water to cover and soak for 20 minutes.

Measure out all spices, combining the whole seeds in one bowls and
the ground in another. In a small skillet, dry-fry the whole spices
over medium heat until darkened and fragrant, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir
occasionally to prevent burning. Transfer to a small bowl. Dry-fry
the ground spices the same way, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl. Grind the whole spices to a fine powder with
a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder. Combine with other
spices and set aside.

Trim lemongrass stalks. Cut away and discard the grassy tops,
leaving a stalk 3 inches long. Cut away hard root section; remove
and discard tough outer leaves. Slice thinly, then finely chop
and put in a mortar.

Add galanga and grind for about 3 minutes. Drain chiles and add
to the mortar with the salt. Grind for another 5 minutes. Add
garlic, onion, spices and shrimp paste and grind for another 5
minutes, or until you
have a smooth paste.

Cover tightly and refrigerate.

Tamarind liquid

1/4 cup tamarind pulp
1/2 cup warm water

Cover tamarind with warm water in a small bowl. Soak for 30 minutes,
mashing occasionally.

Pour water through a fine mesh sieve into another bowl using a
spoon to mash the softened pulp against the sieve, extracting as
much liquid as you can. Thin extracted liquid with water to the
consistency of pea soup.


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