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[Photograph: Nick Kindelsperger]

There's no doubting the comforting nature of massaman curry. The relatively mild mix is less of an assault on the senses, and more like a rejuvenating aromatherapy session.

But where most Thai curries can be whipped up in short order, making them ideal for a weeknight meal, massaman (or matsaman) is kind of the exception. Sure, you can buy a very good can of the paste ready to go (I particularly like the Maesri brand), but the curry usually features potatoes and stewed beef; while the former ingredient can be finished in less than a half hour, the latter likes to take its sweet time simmering before becoming appropriately tender. But if meat is holding up this dish, why not take it out?

Instead, I loaded the curry with eggplant, which were cubed, cooked for a bit in the curry paste, and then simmered until very tender. They help to approximate the succulent texture of the beef. I also wanted some color to help perk it up, eventually deciding on broccoli florets. But don't go chucking those in the pot right away; they aren't added until the last five minutes, so they remain bright green and maintain a slight crunch.

The result has all the comfort I expect from massaman curry, but can also be finished in about 30 minutes.

About the author: Nick Kindelsperger is the editor of Serious Eats: Chicago. He loves tacos and spicy food. You can follow him as @nickdk on Twitter.

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