Massaman Curry Recipe: A Thai Classic

One of the best ways to wind down after a long day is through a good curry. Massaman curry has long been a popular dish in Thai households, and with such a savory taste, it’s no wonder why many are so keen to know how to prepare Thai Massaman for themselves and their family. Read on as we walk you through Massaman Curry’s recipe, and how this dish became so popular in Thai households and beyond. 

What is Massaman Curry

When you think of curry, the first thing that likely comes to mind other than its savory taste is the spices. Many curry recipes often include spices, but one dish stands out from the rest, Thai Massaman. Massaman curry is an aromatic dish that features a sweet and tangy taste, making use of ingredients such as nutmeg, cloves, mace, and cassia. The ingredient that forms the basis of this iconic dish is coconut milk, although coconut cream makes it richer in flavor and even more savory.

History and Origin of Massaman Curry

History and Origin of Massaman

Massaman curry as we came to know it likely came in the 17th Century, back when Thailand was still called Siam. The origins of what would be called Massaman curry are rooted in speculation, and many theories exist as to how this iconic Thai dish came to exist. A popular theory believes that Thai Massaman was brought into ancient Siamese lands by merchants from as far as India and Persia, who would often use Siamese ports as a stopover on their way to China.  The curry that would become known as Massaman became quite popular and was further spread by the Muslim communities of Thailand. 

Thai Massaman is notable not just for its foreign origins, but also for the ingredients and popularity of the dish in the country. Making use of spices such as cardamom, a Massaman curry recipe also uses Twin Elephants & Earth’s Coconut Milk (18-20% Fat), which is notably rich in flavor. Massaman curry can be found in nearly every home and shop in the country and is as much of a cultural icon as other iconic dishes such as Pad Grapao or Pad Thai.

Why is Thai Massaman Curry So Popular?

Thai Massaman curry is very popular among Thai households for two reasons: Massaman curry’s recipe is quite simple to follow, and Thai Massaman has several health benefits. Massaman curry is also popular due to how easy it is to customize according to your preferences. Some typical examples of ingredients include meat, potatoes, and even eggplant!

Essential Ingredients for Massaman Curry

Essential Ingredients

As a Thai dish, Massaman curry is known for the spices that are typically included when it’s being cooked. The essential ingredients for a Massaman curry recipe are spices such as cardamom, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, and cloves. Combined, these add flavor to Thai Massaman, which is further enhanced by using Twin Elephants & Earth’s Coconut Milk (18-20% Fat) 400 ml. For a richer texture and taste, we recommend using Coconut Cream 400 ml in your Massaman curry recipe!

What Kitchenware is Needed to Make Massaman Curry

Massaman curry needs the following kitchenware in your kitchen:

  • A large pot: This will help you cook Massaman curry sauce, as well as other key ingredients like the chicken. To get the best results, make sure that the pot you use has a heavy bottom, which ensures that the heat is distributed evenly in the Thai Massaman and prevents it from getting burnt. 
  • A chopping board and a knife: Chopping boards and knives are essential for many recipes, particularly one such as Massaman curry, which requires you to dice, chop, and ground certain ingredients. Make sure that you use the right knife!
  • Garlic press: While a knife can easily do this job, a proper garlic press can help you mince the garlic for your Thai Massaman. 
  • Measuring cups: A measuring cup will help you measure and ensure your Massaman curry recipe follows the right ratios and proportions. 
  • Ladle: Helps with stirring and serving the Massaman curry once you’re done cooking it.
  • Rice cooker: While not necessary, Massaman curry is quite customizable, and one of its many forms includes a side of rice to make it more filling.

Massaman Curry Recipe

A standard Massaman curry recipe requires the following ingredients: 

  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons ginger, minced
  • 3 tablespoons massaman curry paste
  • 1 can of Coconut Milk (18-20% Fat) or Coconut Cream (20-22% Fat)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • Jasmine rice, for serving

Making Thai Massaman Curry: The Basics

Massaman curry is a dish that requires some effort to create. We’ve simplified the recipe to give you an idea of what you’ll need to do to cook this iconic Thai dish for friends and family:

  • Heat your oil in a large pot (a heavy-bottomed pot is preferred to make sure the heat spreads evenly), then add sliced onion. Cook until the onion has been softened.
  • Add the Massaman curry paste, ginger, and ginger. Cook until the mixture smells fragrant. 
  • Use Twin Elephants & Earth’s Coconut Milk (18-20% Fat) or Coconut Cream (20-22% Fat) and stir it with water, your choice of meat (chicken or beef are common choices), and your choice of vegetables (popular ones include carrots, bell peppers, and potatoes). Boil the mixture for 20-25 minutes or until the chicken has been cooked and the vegetables become tender.
  • Add peanuts, lime juice, brown sugar, and fish sauce. Stir for another five minutes.

Using a rice cooker, prepare hot jasmine rice to serve along with your Thai Massaman curry. Alternatively, you may consider serving roti instead of rice.

Tips for Making the Best Massaman Curry

Making a good Massaman curry may seem challenging to do, but there are simple ways in which you too can create a Thai Massaman that is as rich and tasty as the ones you see online. Here are some tried and trusted ways we use!

Substitute Coconut Milk for Coconut Cream

Substitute Coconut Cream

Coconut Milk (18-20% Fat) is an excellent way to make sure that your Massaman curry tastes rich and flavorful. Still, another way to give your Thai Massaman the savory flavor it’s known for is by substituting Coconut Milk (18-20% Fat) for Coconut Cream (20-22% Fat). Made using only the freshest coconuts and sustainable practices, Twin Elephants & Earth brand Coconut Cream (20-22% Fat) is a trusted ingredient used in curries and beyond. 

Add Cilantro and Serve With Different Vegetables

Add Cilantro Curry

As a highly customizable dish, the big appeal to cooking Massaman curry is that you can put just about any kind of vegetable into it. Consider adding cilantro to your Thai Massaman and give it an herbal flair. Furthermore, you can even add various leftover vegetables from your pantry, be it potatoes, bell peppers, or even eggplant!

Substitute Rice for Roti or Naan

Massaman Roti

While Massaman curry is traditionally served with a kind of rice, it never hurts to experiment a bit and serve your Thai Massaman with roti or naan bread, which can be a great way to eat your Massaman curry. Roti or naan can add an interesting contrast to the savory tanginess of Massaman.


As a leading name in food production, Erawan Food’s OEM services are rated according to international food safety standards and use sustainability practices for our plant-based products. With over 70 years of experience in the industry and partners worldwide, ours is a brand that you can trust. Reach out to us and upscale your business with a trusted OEM service!


How Coconut Milk In Desserts Enhances Flavour
How Coconut Milk In Desserts Enhances Flavour
Coconut Milk For Curry: Making the Most Out of Your Cooking
Coconut Milk For Curry: Making the Most Out of Your Cooking
How Coconut Milk For Coffee Enriches Your Day
How Coconut Milk For Coffee Enriches Your Day
Thai Green Curry Recipe
Thai Green Curry Recipe: A Spicy and Flavorful Dish
Mango Sticky Rice
Mango Sticky Rice: A Thai Dessert Delight
Poached Banana in Coconut Milk