Massaman Curry

In Food by Kate Jonuska

Massaman Curry Image


I’ve mentioned (in print!) that Massaman my favorite and in my opinion oft overlooked curry. It’s also, um, complex. It takes a arm’s-length list of ingredients and it’s a time-intensive process that takes some practice (see my post on the process here). If it’s your first curry-go-round, start with a pre-made yellow, red or green curry paste as a base with some coconut milk. If you dig the Massaman like me, though, this recipe is a great, great version.


6 servings

Prep Time

0 hours, 20 minutes

Cook Time

0 hours, 40 minutes


  • 1 thumb-piece ginger, grated
  • 4 large cloves garlic
  • Coconut or vegetable oil
  • 1 red chili, sliced, OR a jalepeno, sliced, OR 1/2 to 3/4 tsp. chili flakes/cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 chicken stock
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 cup chopped unsalted dry-roasted cashews, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamon
  • 1 Tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 pound chopped chicken breast or thigh
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2 medium potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • Prepared warm rice


  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: bay leaves, turmeric, chopped cashews, ground coriander, whole cumin seed, white pepper, cardamon, lime juice 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 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 rice.


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