Have you tried Massaman Curry? A mild, slightly sweet, and lightly tangy Thai curry made with coconut milk, meat, potatoes, and a curry paste of dry roasted spices, it’s one of my Thai recipe favorites and an excellent place to start if you are newer to Thai food.
Thai curry refers to a broad category of dishes that consist of meat and/or vegetables cooked in a creamy, vibrantly spiced coconut milk-based sauce, usually served with rice.
- The color of the curry depends upon the type of curry paste used to make it. Each curry type has its own unique flavor profile.
- Red curry uses red curry paste and tends to be the spiciest (see Thai Chicken Curry for a recipe), green curry uses green curry paste and is more herbal (I love it in Chickpea Curry), and yellow curry is made with yellow curry paste.
- Massaman curry and Panang Curry are unique in that they are made with dried spices, whereas red, yellow, and green curry pastes are made with fresh ones.
Massaman curry differs from Panang curry in its use of warm spices, like cinnamon and coriander (Panang curry is more thick and nutty).
Massaman curry is the sweetest Thai curry.
It tastes thick and creamy, richly aromatic, and oh-so-wonderful!
How to Make Massaman Curry
To make an easy Massaman curry recipe, I chose to doctor up Thai red curry paste (which is widely available at grocery stores, while Massaman paste is not) with the warm Massaman spices that make it unique.
For add-ins, I kept the traditional potatoes (which taste particularly excellent in the creamy sauce), added carrots for a nutritional boost, and opted for chicken for the protein.
That’s my spin, now it’s your turn!
Curry recipes are wonderfully flexible.
Feel free to add other veggies (like green beans or baby corn) and/or swap out the chicken for chickpeas or tofu to make your Massaman curry vegetarian.
- Chicken Thighs. Tender, juicy chicken thighs work beautifully in this curry. Chicken thighs are rich in protein and iron.
- Thai Red Curry Paste. This ingredient is key to the deep, rich flavor of the Massaman curry. It’s a flavor powerhouse that can’t be substituted.
- Ginger + Garlic. This classic duo helps build intense flavor.
- Spices. A bold blend of cumin, coriander, and cinnamon adds depth and warmth to the curry.
- Coconut Milk. To achieve the ideal consistency while keeping things light, we’re using a combination of full-fat coconut milk and light coconut milk. If you prefer a richer curry, you can use entirely full fat.
- Potatoes. You’ll love the way the creamy potato chunks add texture and absorb the curry flavor. Don’t skip them.
- Carrots. Sweet and tender carrots are delicious in this curry. They’re also packed with vitamins and fiber.
- Fish Sauce. Bold umami goodness. The fish sauce really boosts the overall flavor of the curry (and does not taste like fish!). It’s widely available, and if want to cook Thai food, it’s a necessary purchase.
- Peanut Butter. Adds rich, peanut butter flavor to the curry and helps make it thick and creamy.
- Lime. A touch of lime juice and zest add brightness and acidity.
- Peanuts. For a delicious crunch.
- Cilantro. For freshness that complements the other flavors.
- Heat the curry paste with the onion, garlic, ginger, and spices. Whisk in the coconut milk, potatoes, fish sauce, peanut butter, and salt.
- Add the carrots and potatoes.
- Let simmer, then stir in the chicken. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Remove the pot from the heat, then zest and juice the lime into it. Serve with chopped peanuts and cilantro. DIG IN!
- To Store. Refrigerate curry in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- To Freeze. Freeze curry in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Up to 1 day in advance, chop the onion, mince the garlic and ginger, scrub and cut the potatoes, and trim and cut the chicken. Refrigerate until you’re ready to finish the recipe. You can also chop peanut weeks ahead and store them at room temperature.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. Perfect for making this curry.
- Measuring Spoons. These are double-sided and magnetic.
- Citrus Juicer. You’ll also want to have a zester on hand.
Cast Iron Dutch Oven
This cast iron enamel Dutch oven is heavy-duty and ideal for both the stovetop and oven. Plus, it will look beautiful on your table too!
I hope this post inspires you to make Massaman curry at home soon!
With its mild flavor, warm spices, and creamy sauce, it has a way of hitting the spot.
Frequently Asked Questions
Compared to Indian curries (like Chicken Tikka Masala), Thai curries cook more quickly, use more fresh (vs. dried) herbs and spices, and their sauce tends to be a little thinner.
Make sure all the ingredients are cut into bite-size pieces, then tuck your leftover curry into a lettuce leaf (like Asian Lettuce Wraps), adding it with a slotted spoon. You could also serve it over a bed of Cauliflower Fried Rice, white rice (like jasmine rice), or brown rice.
This recipe for Massaman curry is not overly spicy. If you prefer your curry with a kick, you can add Sriracha to taste.
- 1 tablespoon canola oil grapeseed oil, or similar neutral cooking oil
- 1 (4-ounce) jar Thai red curry paste
- 1 small onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk do not use light or your broth will be too thin
- 1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk or full-fat for a richer curry
- 1 pound Yukon Gold or baby yellow potatoes scrubbed and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
- 3 medium carrots scrubbed and cut into 1/4-inch coins
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 tablespoon peanut butter creamy or crunchy
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 small lime zest and juice (about 1 1/2 tablespoons juice)
- 1/3 cup dry roasted peanuts roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Prepared brown rice for serving (see Instant Pot Brown Rice for an easy method)
- Measure and prep all of your ingredients and keep them near the stove (measure the spices into a bowl, open the coconut milk, chop the veggies, etc). In a Dutch oven or similar large, deep skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Once it is hot and shimmering, add curry paste, onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, coriander, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until the paste darkens and the spices smell ultra fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Stir in the full-fat and light coconut milk, potatoes, carrots, fish sauce, peanut butter, and salt. If needed, use a whisk to blend everything together until smooth.
- Bring to simmer. Cook until potatoes and carrots are barely tender, stirring periodically, about 12 minutes.
- Stir in the chicken. Continue simmering, stirring periodically, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 to 12 minutes more.
- Remove from the heat. Zest the lime directly into the pot, then squeeze in the juice. Serve over cooked rice with a generous sprinkle of chopped peanuts and cilantro.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate curry in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in a pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze curry in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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