A Thai masterclass with Chef Seefah

Only someone as talented as Chef Seefah Ketchaiyo can make Thai cooking seem so effortless. In this masterclass, she teaches us the classic massaman curry, stir-fry chicken with basil and, for dessert, pumpkin in coconut milk.

Chef Seefah Ketchaiyo cooked in five-star hotels most of her working life, from the Sofitel in Bangkok to the Shangri-La in Chiang Mai, venturing as far afield as Chengdu in China. She eventually landed up at the Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai, where she was the sous chef looking after Thai food. It’s at the Four Seasons that Chef Seefah met her husband, Karan Bane, who was working under Chef Kato Toshikazu in the Japanese section. 

Used to cooking hotel-style Thai food, Chef Seefah truly came into her own when she opened her own restaurant with her husband. While Chef Seefah does the Asian dishes, Chef Karan handles the Japanese part of the menu. With a focus on comfort food, their offerings hit the spot with diners during the pandemic and deliveries soared. While Chef Seefah does not believe in compromising on authenticity when it comes to flavours and spice levels, she is experimental enough to package her food in interesting new ways. Her latest creations are a set of Asian burgers. 

In this masterclass, Chef Seefah makes three dishes for us: a massaman curry (a vegetarian soya chaap version as well as lamb), a fak thong kaeng buat (pumpkin in coconut milk), and the universally popular stir-fry chicken with basil.

Massaman curry 

The flavoursome massaman curry. Image: shutterstock
The flavoursome massaman curry. Image: Shutterstock

Ingredients

For massaman curry paste

  • 1½ tsp roasted coriander seeds 
  • ½ tsp roasted cumin 
  • 4 pc cardamoms (only inside) 
  • 4 pc roasted cloves 
  • 1 pc roasted nutmeg powder  
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder 
  • 5 pcs freshly soaked banana chilli 
  • 1 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 tsp galangal 
  • 2 stems of lemongrass 
  • 1 tsp kaffir lime zest 
  • 10 pieces garlic
  • 1 onion 
  • ½ tsp roasted whole white pepper 
                

For massaman lamb/soya 

  • 300 g lamb leg 
  • 100 g massaman curry paste 
  • 200 ml coconut milk 
  • 3 pc cinnamon stick 
  • 3 pc star anise 
  • 6 pc cardamom 
  • 50 g roasted peanut 
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar 
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp 
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 2 pcs bay leaf 
  • 1 pinch salt 
  • 2 potatoes 
  • 1 onion 

Method

  • For the curry paste, blend all ingredients together and keep aside.
  • Heat a pan with coconut milk. Put the diced lamb in it and simmer until the lamb is tender, for about 1 hour. Then put a little oil in the pan and stir fry the massaman curry paste until it smells good. Then slowly add the coconut milk to simmer the fragrant curry paste. 
  • Take the lamb that has been simmered until tender and then put it into the pan and continue to simmer. Add cinnamon, star anise, and roasted cardamom. Add roasted peanuts. Add diced potatoes. Boil until the potatoes are cooked well. 
  • Season with palm sugar, tamarind juice, fish sauce and salt. Taste should be sweet, slightly sour, just salty. Notice that the potatoes are getting clearer. 
  • Add diced onion, and it’s done. It goes well with steamed rice or roti.

Fak Thong Kaeng Buat

Pumpkin in coconut milk is a popular thai dessert. Image: shutterstock
Pumpkin in coconut milk is a popular Thai dessert. Image: Shutterstock

Ingredients

  • 250 g pumpkin (or yam)
  • 200 ml coconut milk 
  • 10 pandan leaves 
  • 125 ml water 
  • 50 g palm sugar 
  • A pinch of salt

Method

  • Peel the pumpkin, wash it thoroughly. Cut into pieces, then rinse it with clean water 2 times.
  • Put on the pot, add coconut milk and pandan leaves, add water on medium heat, enough to boil. 
  • Add pumpkin and cook until cooked. Add palm sugar and salt to your liking. Turn off the heat.

Krapow Gai 

Krapow gai prepared at the masterclass. Image: yash shinde
Krapow Gai prepared at the masterclass. Image: Yash Shinde

Ingredients

  • 1 cup minced chicken  
  • 10 pcs garlic 
  • 2 tsp cooking oil 
  • 1 tsp dark soya sauce  
  • 2 tsp fish sauce 
  • 1 tsp sugar 
  • ½ cup holy basil  
  • 5 pcs red chilli  
  • ½ cup water 

Method 

  • Heat oil in a pan, turn on medium heat, wait until oil is hot. 
  • Then add garlic, chilli and stir fry for 5-10 seconds until the aroma starts to smell. 
  • Then add the minced chicken and stir-fry until the chicken is cooked. 
  • Season with dark soya sauce, sugar, fish sauce, broth and add basil leaves to the pan. Stir well before turning off the heat and remove from the pan. 

Pro tip: Add a little water or broth after seasoning to add more flavour.

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