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Chicken Massaman Curry

Updated: Mar 25

Massaman curry is a popular Thai dish that is heavily influenced by Indian cuisine. It boasts an array of delightful and aromatic flavours that are sure to leave a lasting impression on your taste buds. The combination of tender potatoes and carrots will simply melt in your mouth, while the creaminess from the coconut milk and peanut butter will envelop your tongue with pure bliss. If you haven't tried it yet, you're missing out on something truly amazing. So, gather the ingredients and start cooking this mouth-watering dish!

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Massaman Curry in the pan.
Smells so delicious!

What is Massaman Curry?

Massaman curry is a popular Thai dish that is believed to have originated in the 16th century in the southern part of Thailand. It is a fragrant, mild and slightly sweet curry that is known for its unique blend of Thai and Indian spices. The dish has many variations depending on the region, ingredients used and personal preference.

The most common ingredients in Massaman curry are beef or chicken, potatoes, onions, peanuts, coconut milk, and Massaman curry paste. Other variations may include vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, and bamboo shoots, or protein options like tofu or shrimp.

The history of Massaman curry is somewhat disputed, but it is thought to have been influenced by Indian traders and Muslim merchants who brought spices and ingredients to Thailand. The dish is believed to have originated from the Muslim community in southern Thailand and may have been adapted from a similar Indian curry called "mussulam" or "muslim".

There are many different versions of Massaman curry, including regional variations that use different ingredients or methods of preparation. For example, in northern Thailand, Massaman curry is made with pork and a thicker curry paste, while in southern Thailand, it is made with beef and more spices. Vegetarian versions of Massaman curry are also popular, using tofu or a variety of vegetables in place of meat.

In recent years, Massaman curry has gained popularity around the world and has become a favourite among Thai cuisine lovers. It is a delicious and comforting dish that is perfect for any occasion, from a cozy night in to a fancy dinner party. So good!

Where can I get Massaman Curry Paste?

The traditional Massaman curry paste is a blend of Thai spices, Indian spices, and other aromatic ingredients like lemongrass, galangal, coriander seeds, cumin, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. You can find ready-made Massaman curry paste in most Asian grocery stores or online. However, if you can't find Massaman curry paste, you can make your own by blending together the aforementioned spices with shallots, garlic, and dried red chilies until it forms a smooth paste. The homemade version may not be as authentic as the store-bought version, but it can still add plenty of flavour to your Massaman curry. You can also prepare Thai Red Curry Paste as a substitute.

Video Recipe:

This recipe makes: 4 portions

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients for Massaman Curry:

  • 400g (0.9Pounds) boneless chicken thigh, diced into large pieces

  • 4-5tbsp of Massaman Curry Paste or Thai Red Curry Paste

  • 400g (0.9Pounds) of any waxy small potatoes (such as salad potatoes), halved

  • 2 medium banana shallots, diced

  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced

  • 400ml (0.42quarts) coconut milk

  • 2tbsp of peanut butter (for a nut-free version use this product)

  • 2 Kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced

  • 7 cardamom pods

  • 1 small cinnamon stick

  • 1tsp ground cumin

  • 1tsp ground coriander

  • pinch of nutmeg

  • 1tbsp vegetable oil

  • 2tbsp toasted peanuts for garnish (gently toast on medium heat in a frying pan, stirring frequently, until they start to brown)

  • a handful of fresh coriander for garnish

  • 1lime juice to drizzle before serving

  • fish sauce to your preference

How to prepare Massaman Curry:

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat. Add 2 diced shallots and fry until they start to brown.

2. Turn up the heat and add 400g of diced chicken thighs to the pan. Sear the meat until browned on all sides.

3. Add 1 teaspoon each of ground cumin and ground coriander, along with 2 sliced carrots. Mix everything together and cook for 2 more minutes.

4. Add 4 tablespoons of Thai red curry paste, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 400g of halved waxy potatoes to the pan. Pour in 400ml of coconut milk and add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, 7 cardamom pods, 1 cinnamon stick, a pinch of nutmeg, and 2 finely sliced Kaffir lime leaves. Mix everything together until the peanut butter is fully incorporated. Cover the pan with a lid and let everything simmer for around 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Serve the curry over jasmine rice and top with toasted peanuts, fresh coriander, and a drizzle of lime juice.

Cooking Tips for Massaman Curry:

  • Use high-quality ingredients - Massaman curry relies on the flavour of the curry paste, so make sure to use a good-quality one.

  • Toast the spices - Toasting the spices, such as cinnamon, cumin, and coriander, before adding them to the curry will enhance their flavour and aroma.

  • Brown the meat - If you're using meat, such as beef or chicken, brown it first to seal in the juices and enhance the flavour.

  • Use coconut cream - Coconut cream is richer and thicker than coconut milk, and it gives the curry a creamy texture and flavour.

  • Add peanuts - Traditional Massaman curry often includes peanuts, which add a crunchy texture and nutty flavour to the dish. You can also use cashews or almonds.

  • Don't overcook the vegetables - To retain their texture and nutrients, don't overcook the vegetables. Add them towards the end of cooking and cook just until they're tender.

  • Adjust the seasoning - Taste the curry as you cook it and adjust the seasoning as needed. You may need to add more salt, sugar, or fish sauce to balance the flavours.

From the Author:

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Check out my other Thai Recipes:

Tom Yum Talay - is a delicious and fragrant Thai seafood soup that combines spicy, sour, and savoury flavours, and is a must-try dish for anyone who loves bold and vibrant tastes from Southeast Asia.

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