Curries Recipes

Massaman Curry with Chicken – Gaeng Massaman Gai – มัสมั่นไก่

A trip down to Trang last week rekindled my love for Massaman curry after I had a fantastic version at the De Tara Beach Resort.

It’s not often you get a proper slow cooked, authentic masaman on a Thai Island. It took me back to when I first traveled Thailand in 2009 and was taught how to make this creamy Thai curry by a lady in Surat Thani. I thought it was about time I shared this family recipe with you guys.

Now a massaman curry cannot be cooked quickly, this is a thing of beauty and takes time; at least an hour, more if you are using beef. The massaman’s long cooking time is the reason most people who holiday on Thai islands haven’t tried a real massaman. Too many restaurants cook them as they would a red or green curry – ready in 10 minutes from start to finish using chicken breast. This beautiful, vibrant curry deserves more of your time, and if you give it that time, I promise you will be richly rewarded!

Massaman curry comes from the Muslim populated south of Thailand and uses a lot of Indian spices which is what sets it apart from the other Thai curries. The other difference is that all the ingredients in the paste are dry fried until charred. This gives a real depth of flavour to the finished dish. It’s like a Thai/Indian hybrid curry and definitely my favourite. My version is not as sweet as a lot of restaurant style massamans so feel free to adjust the sugar levels to suit your taste.

One thing that’s not necessarily traditional is my use of a blender to make the paste. Now purists will say that you must use a pestle and mortar to grind your paste as it breaks down all the fibers in the ingredients and releases more flavour and that you cannot reproduce this in a food processor. While I do agree with this, I think a blender is an excellent alternative as it completely breaks down whatever you put in it as long as you have some liquid to get it going. That’s where the oil and coconut cream comes into play. See, most Thai curry recipes call for you to cook the paste in coconut cream before or oil adding the milk so by blitzing the paste ingredients in oil or coconut cream then cooking it out, you’re doing the same thing. Plus you save an hour of your day that otherwise would be spent pounding ingredients!

Save yourself some time!

If you don’t have a blender and you’re going to be following my recipes then get your hands on one, preferably with a spice/coffee grinder attachment as we will be making our own spice blends. There are some great ones for around the £20 mark, and it will be one of the best investments in your kitchen you can make I promise! I’ve put a link below to an excellent value starter blender with all the attachments you need.

Chicken on the bone is essential for flavour in a masaman, so we’re going to be using thighs, but a mixture of thigh and drumsticks would also work well. Just try and get the best quality chicken you can – free range at a minimum.

This curry tastes even better if you make it a day ahead to give the spices a chance to infuse into the potatoes and chicken.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Please feel free to comment below and let me know what you think.

For the Paste:

Massaman Curry Paste - Prik Gaeng Massaman พริกแกงมัสมั่น
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Authentic Thai masaman curry paste.
    Servings Prep Time
    1 large curry 15 minutes
    Passive Time
    30 minutes
    Servings Prep Time
    1 large curry 15 minutes
    Passive Time
    30 minutes
    Massaman Curry Paste - Prik Gaeng Massaman พริกแกงมัสมั่น
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Votes: 1
    Rating: 5
    You:
    Rate this recipe!
    Print Recipe
    Authentic Thai masaman curry paste.
      Servings Prep Time
      1 large curry 15 minutes
      Passive Time
      30 minutes
      Servings Prep Time
      1 large curry 15 minutes
      Passive Time
      30 minutes
      Ingredients
      Servings: large curry
      Units:
      Instructions
      1. Heat a dry pan over a medium heat and fry all the spices except the nutmeg until fragrant. Grate the nutmeg with a fine grater and set aside.
      2. Grind all the spices in a grinder or stone pestle and mortar. Add the grated nutmeg to the mix.
      3. In the same pan dry fry the wet ingredients over a medium-high heat until nicely charred.
      4. Pour the charred ingredients into a blender with a teaspoon of salt and the oil or coconut cream and blitz to a fine paste. Add the spice mix and pulse to combine.
      Recipe Notes

      If you use coconut cream to blend the paste then it's best to use the paste withing 24 hours but if you use oil the paste can sit for a week. You can also use a combination of oil and coconut milk.

      For the curry:

      Massaman Curry with Chicken - Gaeng Massaman Gai - มัสมั่นไก่
      • 1
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      • 3
      • 4
      • 5
      Votes: 1
      Rating: 5
      You:
      Rate this recipe!
      Print Recipe
      An authentic, slow cooked massaman curry with chicken. Perfect served with rice or roti.
        Servings Prep Time
        4-6 people 10 minutes
        Servings Prep Time
        4-6 people 10 minutes
        Massaman Curry with Chicken - Gaeng Massaman Gai - มัสมั่นไก่
        • 1
        • 2
        • 3
        • 4
        • 5
        Votes: 1
        Rating: 5
        You:
        Rate this recipe!
        Print Recipe
        An authentic, slow cooked massaman curry with chicken. Perfect served with rice or roti.
          Servings Prep Time
          4-6 people 10 minutes
          Servings Prep Time
          4-6 people 10 minutes
          Ingredients
          Servings: people
          Units:
          Instructions
          1. Toast the peanuts in a dry pan on a medium heat until coloured. Be careful not to burn them.
          2. Place the chicken in a large saucepan or casserole dish with the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add the peanuts to the pan.
          3. In frying pan, pour in your homemade paste and cook over a medium heat stirring all the time until the paste has darkened and oil has started to seperate around the edges of the paste.
          4. Once the chicken has been simmering for around 15 minutes add the paste, the potatoes, the onion, cinnamon and cardamom to the saucepan and stir well. Add the tarmarind and a little salt and half cover with a lid.
          5. Cook on the stove top on medium-low heat for 45 minutes (you want to see bubbles but in no way do you want a rolling boil) Alternatively you can just pop it in the oven at this point at 160 degrees.
          6. After 45 minutes the chicken should be tender and the potatoes and onion should be cooked through. There should be a lovely layer of oil at the top. Add the sugar and adjust the salt to your taste.
          7. Serve in bowls with steamed rice or roti.

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          (8) Comments

          1. Wow what wonderful photos. I love trying new foods but i have to say that I dont think i have ever tried thai.. Will have to check out a local resturant!

            1. The Roaming Cook says:

              That’s what the website is all about Stacey, sharing my love of Thai food. Enjoy!

          2. This looks so good and perfect for the cold nights here in New Mexico that we’ve had this week. This would be perfect to make in my slow cooker. YUM.

            1. The Roaming Cook says:

              It’s great done in the slow cooker Andrea. I hope you enjoy it!

          3. I just had massaman curry paste for the first time last week (from the Asian market, though lol). Your recipe sounds divine!

            1. The Roaming Cook says:

              Thank you, Monique. Next time I make it I’ll have to make one of your boozy desserts to finish it off!

          4. This looks amazing! I love your descriptions of what is traditionally done in this recipe. I will try it on a weekend when I have extra time!

            1. The Roaming Cook says:

              Please do Emmi, and let me know how it goes.

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