Feeling introspective and also have too many potatoes? Go back to your roots with this recipe for Massaman Curry.

The truth about senior year is that it forces you to consider your roots at the University. Where have you planted yourself socially, academically, and extracurricularly? What entity is it that the roots are supporting? Who are you really?

Food articles rarely get this existential, but when I realized the Features section would benefit from a food article this week, I thought of it as “going back to my roots.” I joined The Argus during Orientation in my first year, knowing nobody and never before having written for a newspaper. The Food section, which at the time was an independent section and later was absorbed into Features, seemed like the least daunting and best place to get my feet wet, and this remained my home until the end of sophomore year.

I wouldn’t say writing for food was always easygoing. The trouble with this type of recipe article is that there is a tendency to adopt a sing-songy, cutesy writing style, peppering dish descriptions with words and phrases like “yummy,” “veggies,” and “little beauties.” In an effort to avoid this (“yummy” is one of the worst words in the English language, second perhaps only to “belly”), I often felt as though I was overcompensating, inserting “my own voice” with such aggression that it felt contrived.

Accordingly, I’m glad I’ve grown from where I began with my writing, but these types these articles, as my writing roots, will always have a place in my heart. They were my only vehicle of personal expression during my first year, and having a byline was my way of peeing on a tiny corner of campus, even if hardly anyone took notice at all.

To honor the theme of “back to my roots,” this recipe will provide a suggestion for addressing all of the goddamn root vegetables that are going to start appearing in the produce co-op over the next few weeks. Too many times last year did my roommates and I sadly watch carrots shrivel in the fridge, as they assumed a floppy consistency that was more cartoonish than edible. A genuine shame.

Another thing I’ve learned in college is, let’s be real, no one is going to follow recipes on a regular basis.  I consider myself pretty dedicated to cooking my own food, and nevertheless if I can’t eyeball everything in what I’m cooking, it rarely will get cooked.

However, it’s not much fun if there isn’t something unusual about the recipe. This one is for Massaman curry, incorporating whichever vegetables you prefer. The chopping is the worst part, but ultimately it’s worth it.

If you’re adapting this recipe for daily purposes, however, it might be wise to cook some vegetables in the oven (diced small and tossed with minimal olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted for approximately 30 minutes at 350 degrees) and some on the stove top. I imagine the most frequent “roastables” Co-op will provide are sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, and tomatoes. I’d stir-fry cabbage and leafy greens with onions and garlic, because onions and garlic belong in everything with few to no exceptions.

Massaman Curry

(adapted from allrecipes.co.uk)


1 tablespoon olive oil

1 white onions, peeled and chopped

1 medium potato, chopped into 1/2 inch chunks

1 medium sweet potato, chopped

3 carrots, sliced

2 cups water

1 cinnamon stick

1 bay leaf

250 ml coconut milk

1 tablespoon lime juice

3 1/2 tsp. sugar

1 1/4 tbsp. finely chopped Thai basil, plus extra to serve

1 1/2 tbsp. crushed roasted peanuts

3 tbsp. massaman curry paste



1. Heat olive oil to frying pan over low heat. Add the curry paste, and cook, stirring over low heat for two minutes.

2. Add vegetables, cinnamon stick, kaffir lime leaf, bay leaf and enough water to cover the vegetables, increase the heat and bring the pan to boil.

3. Once boiling, cover pan, reduce heat, and let simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until potatoes are tender, and any other vegetables you have added are soft.

4. Remove cover from pan, and gently stir in coconut milk. Continue stirring for three to four minutes, until the liquid has thickened. Find the bay leaf and remove it from the sauce. Add lime juice, sugar, and basil.

5. Top with peanuts and basil, and add hot pepper flakes to taste.


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