Life’s a Feast: Wild duck masaman curry – masaman ped


Having a father who went into the depths of Southland on the first weekend of May each year, duck shooting meant we constantly had a freezer full of duck carcasses to feast on. 

These days a lot of the men, including my husband, return home with only the breast. I know it seems
sacrilege, but it means I can still enjoy dining on duck without time-consuming plucking
and butchering.

This masaman curry is a true hybrid, featuring typical Indian spices tempered with unique fragrant Thai flavours. Enjoy!

2-3 whole wild ducks (else use four duck breasts)
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 tablespoons masaman curry paste (below)
600ml coconut milk
5 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon palm sugar (or brown)
3-4 cardamom pods bruised
3 tablespoons roasted peanuts ground (or use crunchy
peanut butter)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
Salt to taste
Lime juice to taste (optional)
Jasmine rice

Masaman curry paste (makes enough for about 5 curries):
(Can be bought pre-made from the supermarket)
6 dried chillies, seeds removed, or 2 teaspoons chilli powder
2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste
2 teaspoons finely-chopped lemon grass (or use Gourmet Garden in a tube)
Thumb-size of galangal, chopped (similar to ginger but more fragrant, available at Asian supermarket in The Landing)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds (or ground)
2 tablespoons coriander seeds (or ground)
2 teaspoons cumin seeds (or use ground)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves


1.For the paste, soak dried chillies in boiling water for 10 mins. Meanwhile heat oil in a pan and fry onions and garlic for 5 mins until softened and turning brown. Add shrimp paste and cook for a further minute, ensuring it’s crushed through the onion. Blend to a smoothish puree with the drained chillies, lemongrass and galangal, adding water if needed. 

2.Next, dry roast off the coriander, fennel and cumin seeds in a pan, shaking constantly. Allow to cool before crushing to a fine powder. Blend with other paste ingredients till combined. 

3.Remove legs from duck carcass and set aside. Preheat your oven to 210 degrees and roast legs for 10 mins until skin is golden.

4.If using wild duck, remove as much meat from the carcass as possible and remove skin. 

5.Heat coconut milk in a pot and add paste. Stir constantly until simmering. Add peanuts, lime leaves, palm sugar, cardamom, fish sauce and tamarind and simmer for 5-10 mins. Pour half the mixture into a bowl and set aside (unless you like it strong). 

Add the duck and potatoes to pot, place lid on, and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally. Add legs with 15 mins to go. 

6.Stir through the set-aside sauce, bring back to simmer then serve immediately with Jasmine rice.