I’m a bit of a baking addict, but this is my effort to cook more savory dishes. Meet a gorgeous, aromatic riff on beef massaman curry that’s Paleo (goodbye potatoes, sugar, and peanuts) and is a good introduction to cooking with ingredients you may not have much experience with, such as star anise, green cardamom pods and kaffir lime leaves.
It’s worth noting that everything in this recipe can be found at Whole Foods, and you’d probably have good luck at any respectable gourmet food store. What a wonderful world we live in, that spices like star anise are just down the street from most of us! Consumption of spices used to be limited to the very wealthy and powerful, so this is my tribute: a curry fit for the King of Siam.
This serves four but could easily be doubled if you’ve got a large enough pot. This recipe is light yet rich, with melting beef cooked low and slow, creamy coconut milk and softened hunks of squash. Ladle over rice, riced cauliflower, or just enjoy a heaping bowl. One note: it’s important to put the spices in a cheesecloth sachet or other cooking/food-safe bag instead of adding them loose into the curry, because biting into star anise or a cardamom pod is no fun!
Paleo Beef Massaman Curry
This rich, thick curry gets its flavor from exotic spices, hearty beef, and sweet squash.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the raw beef with the red curry paste and 2 tbsp olive oil. Toss lightly and let marinate while you prepare the squash.
Peel the squash, cut it lengthwise, remove the seeds and chop into 1-inch cubes. Peel the onion, and roughly chop.
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and brown the marinated meat briefly, then add the onion and squash.
Tie the cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cardamom in cheesecloth or a cooking-safe spice bag (the goal is to prevent the spices from being loose in the pot). Add to the contents of the pot, the cover with the coconut milk.
Add the fish sauce and cashew butter, and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, then turn heat to low and let simmer (covered) for 1 hour.
After an hour, add the kaffir lime leaves and basil. Simmer for an additional 1/2 hour uncovered to thicken, then remove and discard the lime leaves and bag of spices.
Garnish with cashews and serve.
I used the Thai Kitchen brand of red curry paste. Its ingredient are red chili pepper, garlic, lemongrass, galangal (thai ginger), salt, shallot, spices, kaffir lime.