Massaman Curry

The classic Thai dish is a delightful bowl filled with aromatics and coconut milk

massaman curry

Massaman Curry

Massaman Curry is the love child borne at the crossroads of Asia and India. Brought over centuries ago through trade, the Thais adopted the stronger spices of India and melded them with herbaceous overtones that you can only find in Southeast Asia. Think lemongrass and lime.

The key to creating a very fragrant massaman curry is toasting your spices. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle, get one. It  gives you control of how fine or coarse you make your spices. A coffee grinder might grind your spices too fine.

massaman curry

Be sure to roast your vegetables well. This adds depth to your curry and reduces the bitterness raw vegetables might add. Be deliberate as you roast them. Get them to the point of tenderness, but no further.

massaman curry

When blending your ingredients be sure to pulse every minute, so as not to overheat your curry in the blender. As the sides build up, pause and push down the blend towards the blades so that you get everything fully incorporated.

massaman curry

You should always toast your curry with a little oil in a pot before adding the rest of your ingredients. A few minutes on a medium-high heat is enough to bring out the true flavor of your spices. My standard toasting oil is grapeseed, but with dishes that call for coconut milk, I’ll use coconut oil instead.

massman curry and spoon

For this Massaman Curry recipe, I decided on using shrimp, but you can substitute it for any protein you like. Chicken is most popular, but a lean cut of beef works just as well. For a veggie twist, you can use tofu or stick with carrots and asparagus.

massaman curry

Always tear your basil and or cilantro just before serving. It ensures your herbs stay green and allows them to release their fragrance right before eating.

Falls in love with pineapple juice, it’s traditional companion.

Stir memories of a Bangkok hostel balcony. Bellies filled with Massaman after an intoxicating night.

In the spice chest you’ll find Indian migrants like cloves and cinnamon.

Suggestions and Alternatives:

  • Swap the shrimp for beef or chicken. For a vegetarian option, select tofu or large chucks of carrots and asparagus.
  • Cashews are our personal preference, but peanuts can be used instead.
  • The Massaman Curry can keep for up to a week refrigerated and a few weeks frozen.
  • Rice is commonly served alongside. We recommend a jasmine rice or brown for a healthier alternative.
  • For a lighter coconut milk-based dish, try Tom Kha Gai -Thai Chicken Coconut Soup

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massaman curry pin

massaman curry
5 from 2 votes

Massaman Curry

Traditional Thai dish, Massaman Curry blends aromatics, coconut milk, potatoes and cashews.

Course Condiment
Cuisine thai
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 8 people
Calories 109 kcal


Massaman Curry Paste

  • 5 Red Thai chilies chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic crushed
  • 3 stalks lemongrass chooped
  • 1 medium shallot chopped
  • 1/2 hand galangal sliced
  • 1 tbs. coconut oil quality
  • 1 tbs. cardamom seeds toasted
  • 6 whole cloves toasted
  • 2 tbs. cinnamon whole
  • 2 tbs. coriander seeds toasted
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds toasted
  • 1/2 cup cilantro fresh
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt kosher

Massaman Curry

  • 1 12 oz. coconut milk unsweetened
  • 1 potato diced
  • 1 cinnamon stick whole
  • 1 lb. shrimp fresh
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar light
  • 1 lime fresh
  • 1 tbs. fish sauce quality
  • 1 tbs. cashews crushed
  • 1 red Thai chilies fresh
  • 4 leaves Thai basil fresh
  • 2 tbs. coconut oil quality
  • 2 tbs. massamam curry paste


Instructions for paste

  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Toss whole chilies, crushed garlic, chopped lemongrass, chopped shallots, and sliced galangal with oil and place on baking sheet. Roast all tossing once, until fragrant. 6–8 minutes. Set aside.

  3. Meanwhile, combine cardamom seeds, cloves, coriander seeds, and cumin seed in a small dry skillet and toast over medium heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes; let cool.

  4. crush cardamom pods and remove cardamom seeds from pods; discard pods. Grind all spices in spice mill or with mortar and pestle. Preferably a Mortar and Pestle.
  5. transfer spices to a blender; add chile mixture, cilantro, peanuts, nutmeg, turmeric, and salt, and process to a smooth paste.

  6. If your blender is having trouble catching all the ingredients add a little water to the blender but not more than 1/2 cup.

Instuctions for Massamam curry

  1. in a medium size pot add curry paste and coconut oil cook for 2 minutes.

  2. add one potato peeled and diced to 1/2 inch.

  3. cook for 2 minutes.

  4. add coconut milk and cook covered for 4 minutes.

  5. lower heat from medium to low heat. add peeled and deveined shrimp, red Thai chilies, fish sauce, and brown sugar.

  6. cook for 2 minutes and add cinnamon stick.

  7. remove from heat let sit 2 minutes.

  8. after soup is served in bowl add lime wedge and tear basil.

  9. sprinkle crushed cashew over soup.


  1. This looks delicious and oh-so-flavorful! I’ve been wanting to learn more about making curries, and would love to start with this one. I also love that you use a mortar and pestle – it gives me another potential reason to invest in one, beyond guacamole! 😉

  2. Massaman curry is my favourite!! I only heard of it last year, but since then I’ve been obsessed and we have it at least once a month (my fiancé and I both go through phases of being obsessed with certain dishes haha!!) this looks wonderful, I’m going to have to try your version!

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