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Thai Massaman Chicken Curry

User Rating 5 Star Rating (8 Reviews)


Massaman curry
Alison Miksch/Photolibrary/Getty Images
Try this homemade Thai massaman curry recipe, which is made entirely from scratch (no packaged curry pastes required!). This famous Thai curry is rich and very flavorful. It is muslim in origin and can be made with chicken, beef, or lamb. It's a fragrant yellow curry that incorporates lemongrass and nuts together with other key Thai ingredients. Coconut milk is always used in this curry, as are bay leaves (instead of the harder-to-find kaffir lime leaves). Makes a sumptuous dish to serve on a chilly fall or winter night, and leftovers are just perfect for hot weekeday lunches. Serve with plain jasmine rice, or, for special occasions, with saffron rice or coconut rice. ENJOY!

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: SERVES 3-4 (with rice)


  • 1/2 to 1 pound chicken pieces OR chopped chicken breast/thigh
  • 1-2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 14 ounce (400 ml) can coconut milk (not lite)
  • 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil OR vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup onion, sliced
  • 1 thumb-piece ginger, grated
  • 4-5 cloves garlic
  • 1 red chili, sliced, OR 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. chili flakes/cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup good-tasting chicken stock
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced, OR 2-3 Tbsp. frozen/bottled prepared lemongrass
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted cashews (+ handful more to finish)
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. whole cumin seed
  • 1/2 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cardamon
  • 1 tsp. tamarind, or substitute 1 Tbsp. lime juice*
  • 3/4 tsp. shrimp paste (available by the jar at Asian stores)
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. palm sugar OR brown sugar


  1. Heat a wok, large frying pan, or soup-type pot over medium-high heat. Drizzle in the oil and swirl around, then add the onion, ginger, garlic, and chili. Stir-fry 1-2 minutes to release the fragrance.
  2. Add the stock plus the following: lemongrass, bay leaves, turmeric, chopped cashews, ground coriander, whole cumin seed, white pepper, cardamon, tamarind (or lime juice), shrimp paste, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir with each addition and bring to a light boil.
  3. Add the chicken, stirring to coat with the spicy liquid, then add the coconut milk and potatoes. Stir and bring back up to a boil. Reduce heat to low, or just until you get a good simmer.
  4. Simmer 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken and potatoes are tender. Add red pepper and tomato during last 10-15 minutes of coooking time. Tip: if you prefer a more liquid curry sauce, cover while simmering. If you prefer a thicker curry sauce, leave off lid.
  5. Taste-test the curry, adding more fish sauce for increased flavor/saltiness, or more chili if you want it spicier. If too sour, add a little more sugar. If too salty or sweet for your taste, add a touch more tamarind or lime juice. If too spicy, add more coconut milk.
  6. Add a handful more cashews and fold in. Transfer to a serving bowl, or plate up on individual plates or bowls. Top with fresh coriander, if desired, and serve with Thai jasmine rice. ENJOY!

*Tamarind Substitution Tip: Tamarind paste can be tricky to find, hence I have offered a substitute here. Yes, lime and tamarind are two very different fruits; however, they provide that same sourness you're looking for in this curry (it is balanced out with the palm sugar or brown sugar). Whenever I run out of tamarind paste, I find lime juice works in a pinch. In fact, I have witnessed accomplished Thai chefs create tamarind-based dishes purely with lime juice (such as pad Thai) - good to know if you can't find tamarind paste where you live!

Other Rice Dishes: This curry is also beautiful served with Thai Coconut Rice or Thai Saffron Rice.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
excellent!, Member manitoban74

This recipe was awesome. Tasted just like I get at my local thai restaurant. And as suggested, I actually was able to find the tamarind at my local indian store instead of the asian shop. For Canadians, all other ingredients were easily found at Superstore. The only item I left out and didn't seem to make any difference was the shrimp paste. Yummy. Will definitely make again.

9 out of 9 people found this helpful.

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