Quick Thai Massaman Curry

This Thai Massaman Curry recipe is a one pot wonder, made with tender chicken pieces and potatoes, and cooked in the most flavourful sauce. It’s rich, creamy, extremely delicious, and more importantly… unbelievably simple! 

Thai Massaman Curry Recipe

Massaman Curry is one of those special dishes made up of beautifully orchestrated flavours that complement each other and yet still manage to shine through individually. It’s not as spicy and pungent as most Thai curries but rather creamy, luxurious, tangy, a little sweet and warming all at the same time. JUST EXQUISITE!!! 

You can probably tell from my Chai Tiramisu recipe that I love incorporating spices into my food so it should be no surprise to you that Massaman Curry is my all-time favourite curry. Traditionally, it’s not the quickest or easiest curry to make BUT I’ve adapted this recipe so that 1) it’s super easy and 2) you can have it ready within the hour (and no, it does not involve store-bought Massaman Curry paste).

What is Massaman Curry? 

Simply put, Massaman Curry is a Thai Red Curry with spices such as cumin, coriander, nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and cardamon. This inclusion of spices is a result of influences from both Malaysia and India. 

A really key component of this curry is nuts – it adds an extra layer of richness and texture to the curry. Roasted peanuts are typically used but I’m not going to lie, I much prefer cashews so I used that instead… sue me. 

How is this recipe made ‘quicker’ than others?  

Spicing up store-bought paste, quite literally. As much as I like making my own curry pastes, I decided to hack a store-bought Red Curry paste instead for this recipe. Yes Red Curry, not Massaman. The reason for this is that Massaman Curry pastes can be quite difficult to find, and Red Curry paste is also more versatile as it can be used in a lot of other recipes such as Thai fish cakes, sauces, marinades (i.e. bigger bang for your buck). To repurpose a Red Curry paste into a Massaman Curry paste, all you need to do is stir in a few ground spices (that you probably already have on hand) – no special equipment required! 

Winner winner chicken dinner. Massaman Curry is typically made with large cuts of meat that need to be slow cooked until tender (e.g. beef short ribs or brisket) but for this recipe, we’re using good ol’ chicken thighs. It’s just as flavourful and cuts the simmering time by at least a quarter. You can also use tofu or shrimp instead of chicken. 

Thai Massaman Curry Recipe

Massaman Curry will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days but can also be frozen for up to 3 months. Just heat it up whenever for an ultra delicious no-fuss meal on a busy weeknight. 

Quick Thai Massaman Curry

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Serves: 4


  • Curry Paste
  • 60g store bought Red Curry paste
  • 1 teaspoon toasted ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (or ordinary, NOT smoked)

  • Curry
  • Neutral oil
  • 600g chicken thighs
  • 100g shallots, sliced
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 400ml tin full-fat coconut milk
  • 200g potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 30g roasted cashews or peanuts
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Cilantro, chopped



1. Heat oil over high heat. Add diced chicken to a pot or deep pan and sear for 5 minutes until browned on one side - DO NOT STIR. You may have to do this in batches. The chicken doesn’t need to be cooked through as it’ll finish cooking in the curry later.


2. Remove chicken from pot and set aside. Reduce the heat to medium-high, add some oil into the pan, and fry off the shallots until translucent and slightly browned. Add the curry paste in and fry for about 3-4 minutes until fragrant. Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add in the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick and bay leaves and fry for 30 seconds.


3. Pour the coconut milk into the pot and mix slowly. Bring it up to a boil and add in the potatoes, brown sugar, fish sauce and tamarind paste and mix. Simmer over medium-heat for 15 to 20 minutes or until sauce reduces, the chicken and potatoes are cooked and the sauce is almost at the thickness you want. Adjust thickness of the curry with water as needed.


4. Do a taste test. Add more fish sauce (or even shrimp paste) to add more saltiness, sugar for sweetness. Fish out cardamom pods and bay leaves if you can


5. Serve over rice, and garnish with cashews/peanuts, lime wedges and cilantro.


To make this recipe vegeterian/vegan, just replace the fish sauce with soy sauce, and use tofu or tempeh instead of chicken.

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