Massaman curry is a spicy Thai curry dish made with a fusion of Thai, Indian and Malay ingredients that combine for wonderful flavor you're going to love. It's easy to make and customize.
Easy Massaman Curry Recipe
Curry is the perfect food for spicy food lovers, always filled with an assortment of exciting flavors, all combined to produce and explosion of taste with every bite.
You may be drawn to either Indian curries or Thai curries, but this particular recipe we're making today is a mix of the two different cuisines. We're making Massaman Curry, and I think it might become one of your new favorite dishes.
What Makes Massaman Curry Unique?
Massaman curry is different from other Thai curries in that it incorporates ingredients from not only Thailand, but also India, Persia, and the Malay islands.
It originated in southern Thailand from Muslim migrants traveling from Persia, with further influence from Indian and Malay cooking.
At it's heart, it's a mashup dish of multiple cuisines usually of chicken simmering in a curry sauce made from an eclectic mixture of ingredients, though you can make it with other proteins and vegetables.
You may have enjoyed it in Thai restaurants, the smell of curry wafting from the kitchen as they swirl in Thai basil or other ingredients.
I finally settled on my preferred version of this recipe, adapted from the cookbooks listed toward the end of the post. The key to the great flavors of this dish is the Massaman Curry Paste, which you can buy, but I'll link to my homemade version, which I absolutely love.
I hope you love it as much as I do.
Let's talk about how to make Massaman Curry, shall we?
Massaman Curry Ingredients
- Coconut Milk. Use full fat, as you'll need the thick cream for cooking.
- Massaman Curry Paste. This is key to the unique flavor of the dish. You can use store bought paste, or try my Homemade Massaman Curry Paste recipe.
- Shrimp Paste.
- Spices. Use bay leaf, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, palm sugar.
- Chicken. Boneless, skinless. You can use chicken breast, chicken thigh, or a combination.
- Fish Sauce. Get a good quality fish sauce for wonderful umami flavor. You can use soy sauce as a substitute, but fish sauce is ideal.
- Tamarind Concentrate.
- Potato. I love yellow potato for this dish, but try it with sweet potato as well.
- Roasted Peanuts.
- For Serving. Cooked jasmine rice, chopped cilantro, chili flakes.
How to Make Massaman Curry - the Recipe Method
Heat the Coconut Cream. Heat the coconut cream to medium high heat in a wok or large pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, until the coconut oil separates from the liquid.
Onion, Spices and Curry Paste. Add the onion, massaman curry paste, shrimp paste, bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, or until the pastes starts to brown and becomes fragrant. Be careful not to burn. Add a teaspoon of water if it gets too dry.
Cook the Chicken. Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes to brown the chicken.
Flavor Builders. Stir in the fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind concentrate.
Coconut Milk. Add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the Potatoes. Stir in the potatoes. Simmer another 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender to your liking.
Garnish and Serve. Stir in roasted peanuts and serve over white rice, garnished with chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.
Boom! Done! Your Massamam curry is ready to serve. Looks so good, doesn't it? Curry time! I'm ready to dig into this right now.
Recipe Tips & Notes
- Make it Sweet. Add a tablespoons of brown sugar or honey for a touch of sweetness, which nicely balances out the spices.
- More Peanut Flavor. Swirl extra roasted peanuts into the coconut milk before simmering, or add in a tablespoon or 2 of peanut butter.
- Proteins. I'm making chicken Massaman curry, but you can use other proteins like braised beef, tofu, shrimp or, others. Pork is not traditionally used by Thai Muslims, but you can use it if you'd like to.
- Vegetables. You can easily add other vegetables of your liking, especially root vegetables, which can simmer and soften along with the potatoes. Carrots and potatoes are popular.
Leftover Massaman curry will last up to 5 days in the refrigerator in a sealed container. Simply warm it in a hot pan to enjoy it again.
You can also freeze it for 2-3 months. It is best to freeze without rice.
That's it, my friends. I hope you enjoy this Massaman curry recipe. I'd love to hear how it turned out for you, and if you decided to spice it up and make it your own.
If you enjoy Thai cooking, I recommend the following cookbooks, which I used to adapt this recipe.
- 101 Thai Dishes (You Nee do Cook Before You Die, by Jet Tila with Tad Weyland Fukumoto. (affilliate link, my friends!)
- Hot Thai Kitchen: Demystifying Thai Cuisine with Authentic Recipes to Make at Home, by Pailin Chongchitnant. It's a great resource with lots of traditional Thai recipes. Very instructive! (affilliate link, my friends!)
Ingredients Used For This Recipe
- Massaman curry paste (affiliate link, my friends!) - Or you can find it in Asian markets or some grocery stores, or make your own.
Got any questions? Ask away! I’m happy to help. If you enjoy this recipe, I hope you’ll leave a comment with some STARS. Also, please share it on social media. Don’t forget to tag us at #ChiliPepperMadness. I’ll be sure to share! Thanks! — Mike H.
Massaman Curry Recipe
- 2 cups full fat coconut milk thick cream separated out
- 3 tablespoons Massaman curry paste See my homemade version
- 2 teaspoons shrimp paste
- 1 medium onion coarsely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 green cardamom pods
- 1 small cinnamon stick 3-4 inches in length
- 1 pound boneless chicken cut into bite-sized pieces – use breast or thighs
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon palm sugar
- 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate
- 1 large potato peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- ¼ cup roasted peanuts chopped
- For Serving. Cooked jasmine rice, chopped cilantro, chili flakes.
- Heat the coconut cream to medium heat in a wok or large pan. Cook for 1 minute, stirring, until the coconut oil separates from the liquid.
- Add the onion, massaman curry paste, shrimp paste, bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes, or until the pastes starts to brown and becomes fragrant. Be careful not to burn. Add a teaspoon of water if it gets too dry.
- Stir in the chicken and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes to brown the chicken.
- Stir in the fish sauce, palm sugar, and tamarind concentrate.
- Add the coconut milk and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in the potatoes. Simmer another 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are softened to your liking.
- Stir in roasted peanuts and serve over white rice, garnished with chopped cilantro.