• Mon - Fri 9.00 am - 7.00 pm

Thai Massaman Chicken Curry

Thai massaman curry is a rich, very flavorful yellow curry. Though the ingredient list is lengthy, it's a one-pot dish that's ready in about an hour, and it's fairly easy to make. This is a rather mild curry that is savory and slightly sweet and the flavor can be adjusted to perfectly suit your taste.

A sort of fusion dish, massaman curry originated in southern Thailand and has Malaysian and Indian influences. The bird's eye chiles are a signature ingredient of curries from Thailand and turmeric gives it a yellow color. The use of whole spices (coriander, cumin, and cardamom) makes it more like Indian curries. This recipe features chicken, though beef and lamb are common in massaman and you can use other proteins, such as tofu, if you prefer.

Unlike many versions, you don't have to seek out a premade massaman curry paste for this recipe. Instead, the curry base incorporates lemongrass and nuts with other key Thai ingredients for a fresher taste. Coconut milk is always used in this curry, and combining it with chicken stock creates a lighter curry. Also, instead of makrut lime leaves, massaman curry uses bay leaves, and there are good substitutions for some of the specialty ingredients, which makes shopping easier.

This is a sumptuous dish to serve on a chilly fall or winter night, and leftovers are just perfect for hot weekday lunches. Serve with plain jasmine rice or, for special occasions, with saffron rice or coconut rice.

"Massaman Curry is my favorite dish to order at a Thai restaurant and this recipe tastes just like it! I’ve found that Thai flavors are difficult to get right when I'm cooking at home, so I was impressed with this recipe. Shopping for ingredients can be difficult, but I found them at my local Asian supermarket." —Carrie Parente

Ingredients



  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1/2 small onion, sliced

  • 1 (2-inch) piece ginger, peeled and grated

  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 Thai bird's eye chile, sliced, or 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon chile flakes or cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 cup chicken stock

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, bottom 4 inches minced, or 2 to 3 tablespoons frozen or bottled prepared lemongrass

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted cashews, plus a handful more to finish

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed

  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamom

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste, or 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

  • 3/4 teaspoon shrimp paste

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar, liquid or grated cake form, or brown sugar

  • 1/2 to 1 pound chicken pieces, or chopped chicken breast/thigh

  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk, not lite

  • 2 medium waxy potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks

  • 1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced

  • 1 medium tomato, halved and sliced 1/4-inch thick

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for garnish

  • Cooked jasmine rice, for serving

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. 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 chile. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes to release the fragrance.

  3. Add the stock plus the following: lemongrass, bay leaves, turmeric, chopped cashews, ground coriander, whole cumin seed, cardamom, tamarind (or lime juice), shrimp paste, fish sauce, and sugar. Stir with each addition and bring to a light boil.

  4. 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.

  5. Simmer 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chicken and potatoes are tender. Add the red bell pepper and tomato during the last 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time. If you prefer a more liquid curry sauce, cover while simmering. If you prefer a thicker curry sauce, leave off the lid.

  6. Taste-test the curry, adding more fish sauce for increased flavor/saltiness, or more chile 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.

  7. Add a handful more cashews and fold in. Transfer to a serving bowl, or plate up on individual plates or bowls. Top with fresh cilantro if desired, and serve with Thai jasmine rice.

Read Also :  30 Best Soup Recipes

2 Comments

  • Curry is delicious! It adds great flavour to almost everything. I can proudly say I overuse it.

Leave a Comment