Quick & Easy Authentic Thai Chicken Massaman Curry Recipe – Massaman Gai

If you’re looking for an awesome and delicious recipe to learn how to make the best authentic Thai massaman chicken curry recipe that is quick and easy, then you have come to the right place – you'll absolutely love this!

You can make your own Thai massaman curry paste from scratch but it uses a lot of ingredients that are not very common. So we have adapted a basic store-bought massaman paste with a couple of extra spices added to boost flavor and aroma. It’s quick and it's easy!

Photo of Thai Massaman Gai with potato nests and decorations
A deliciously filling Thai curry that's easy to make and tastes awesome.

Thai Massaman Curry with Chicken – Main Ingredients

  • Chicken Meat from the Thigh
  • Massaman Curry Paste
  • Coconut Milk
  • Potatoes
  • Cardamon Pods
  • Bay Leaves
  • Palm Sugar
  • Tamarind Paste
  • Fish Sauce
  • Coriander Seeds
  • Cumin Seeds

You can use light brown sugar as a substitute for palm sugar if necessary but you will introduce a significant variation in taste if you use dark brown sugar. If that is all you have then mix 50/50 with the white granulated sugar at a push. 

You can also swap out the chicken with beef, pork, fish or seafood such as prawns. For fish and seafood, you should half cook the potatoes before adding the fish/seafood to avoid overcooking.

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How to Make Thai Chicken Massaman Video

Quick & Easy Authentic Thai Chicken Massaman Curry Recipe - Massaman Gai

What is Thai Massaman Curry?

Thai massaman curry is an adaptation of Malaysian & Indian curries incorporating potatoes, cumin, and coriander prevalent in those cuisines.

The southern border of Thailand (formerly Siam) with Malaysia has changed hands a few times. The northern Malay states were under Siamese control, then Malay control (under British rule) and given back to Siam under the Anglo – Siamese Treaty of 1909.

It is still an area of conflict today but so far as Thai massaman curry is concerned, we can confidently say the current recipe style originated with the peoples in that area. Hence the connection of the dish with Malaysia.

Naturally, the original dish has been adapted and changed to make it into the Thai dish that is enjoyed across Thailand, though more so in the Central and Southern regions.

You can cook this easy Thai chicken massaman recipe in less than 30 minutes.

It is a recipe enjoyed throughout Thailand today and is a wonderful and filling curry thanks to the blend of Indian, Malay and Thai spices and hearty potatoes.

Photo of thai Massmana Chicken Curry featuring fried potato nests
Fried potato nests look a little bit special and go nicely with this Thai curry.

Thai Massaman Curry Paste

Most Thais will buy massaman curry paste from the local market where vendors make up a wide range of pastes for use in cooking.

Massaman paste shares many ingredients with red curry paste. Although you can make up massaman curry paste yourself, it is more convenient to buy and adapt a base paste if you cannot source a freshly made paste locally.

If you are reading this outside of Thailand then you will either have to buy a lot of spice ingredients to make your own or buy a mass-produced paste.

The best of these is Maesri Thai Massaman Curry Paste but it is still worth adding a few freshly ground spices to bring the tastes to life. If you cannot get hold of Maesri brand paste then Mae Ploy brand is the next best.

You'll love the taste improvement you can achieve by simply adding a couple of ingredients we can turn the shop-bought paste into something much more aromatic

How to Make One Pot Authentic Thai Massaman Chicken

Step 1 – Prepare the Potatoes

Peel and cut the potatoes into bite-sized chunks and place them in water to stop them from going brown.

Photos of the Potatoes & Chicken Being Prepared for Thai Massaman Curry
Peel and chop the potatoes into bite-sized pieces – remove the bone and chop or slice the chicken into small pieces for quick cooking

Step 2 – Prepare the Chicken

Remove the bones and cut the chicken into small bite-sized chunks too. You can remove the skin if you prefer. Give it a rinse and dry it with paper towels.

If you prefer you can use sliced chicken instead of chicken pieces – it is just a matter of preference.

Step 3 – Improve Shop-Bought Massaman Curry Paste

To improve shop-bought massaman paste, toast the cumin and coriander seeds and then grind up with a mortar and pestle for aroma.

Mix together the shop-bought massaman paste with the toasted spice powder.

Curry Paste Being Improved with freshly toasted and ground spices
Add the shop-bought paste to the freshly ground toasted spices and mix. Then add to blend in with the coconut milk.

Step 4 – Prepare the Curry Soup for Cooking

Pour some of the coconut milk into your cooking pan and bring to the boil. Mix in the massaman paste from Step 3 and bring back to a fast simmer and stir to incorporate.

Note that we are using no vegetable oil but rather the vegetable fat contained in coconut milk.

Reduce the heat to medium / low and simmer, stirring occasionally until you see the oil begin to separate in the mix.

Step 5 – Completing the Massaman Curry Soup for Cooking the Chicken

Add the remainder of the coconut milk and stir, add in most of the palm sugar, tamarind paste, bay leaves & cardamon pods.

Add in some of the fish sauce to improve umami flavor but add gradually so as not to make the dish over salty.

Preparing the Curry for the Chicken Pieces and Potatoes
Add in Cardamon pods, bay leaves, and other spices to build the taste.

Step 6 – Tasting for Balance

Taste the massaman curry soup and adjust the sugar and fish sauce to get a good balance between sweet, salty and sour. The sour is from the tamarind and the salt from the fish sauce.

The sweet obviously from the sugar!

Step 7 – Cooking the Curry

Add chicken pieces or sliced chicken with the potato pieces into the sauce and add the heat to high.

Simmer together with the lid on until the potatoes and meat are cooked. The cooking time should be about 15 to 30 minutes, depending on how fast you simmer and the size of the chicken pieces.

Photo of the Thai massaman curry cooking and frying the Potato Nest
Stir the curry occasionally while cooking – cook with the lid on. Fry potato nests in very hot oil until golden brown.

Bonus – Making a Potato Nests

If you want to serve with a yummy potato nest, julienne potato and place into a shaped container as you can see in the video above.

Dab off any dampness with paper towels. Heat oil until very hot and fry until golden brown by sliding the container into the pan slowly and with great care not to splash the oil.

Fry for a few minutes until golden brown and then flip over to fry the other side. Serve your massaman curry topped with your potato nest and with a portion of freshly steamed jasmine rice.

The easiest way to cook jasmine rice is in a rice cooker.

The Recipe

Photo of Thai Massaman Gai with potato nests and decorations

Authentic Thai Massaman Chicken Curry Recipe

Pin Recipe
COURSE :Main Course
CUISINE :Thai
Prep Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Calories: 906kcal
Author: Phasinee Doddeo
A quick and easy but still authentic Thai chicken massaman that you can knock up for dinner in about 30 minutes – about as long as it takes to cook the jasmine rice!
Adjust Number of Servings Required :4
Print Recipe

Ingredients

Ingredients

Massaman Paste with Extra Spices

Instructions

Improved Massaman Paste

  • Heat a skillet and add the coriander and cumin seeds. Toast in the dry pan until the seeds just start to jump.
  • Tip the seeds out into a mortar and grind with a pestle until you have a mixed spice powder neither coarse nor fine.
  • Add in the shop-bought massaman paste and stir together with the pestle until thoroughly mixed together. Voila – a quick and much improved massaman paste

Preparing the Chicken & Potatoes

  • Remove the skin if you prefer, and cut around the chicken thighs with a sharp knife to remove the bone.
  • Chop the chicken meat into bite sized pieces. If you cut into thinner slices then the chicken will cook much quicker than if cut into thicker pieces. Thin pieces also taste better because there is more surface area to absorb the massaman sauce!
  • Peel the potatoes and chop into bite sized pieces about an inch thick and set aside in a bowl of water.

Cooking the Massaman Curry

  • Add half the coconut milk into the pan you toasted the spice seeds in and bring to a boil, immediately reducing the heat medium high for a fast simmer.
  • Add the massaman paste and stir thoroughly to incorporate through the coconut milk and continue cookign for a minute or two until you see the oil from the massaman paste start to separate from the milk.
  • Add the remainder of the coconut milk and stir.
  • Add the palm sugar and cardomon pods and tamarind paste and about half the fish sauce and stir to dissolve the sugar and mix in the ingredients.Then add the bay leaves and taste. Adjust the sugar and fish sauce to get your desired taste.
  • Add in the chicken and the potato pieces and stir in. Cover the pan and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes give minimal resistance to being prodded witha fork.

Optional Potato Nests

  • Fried potato nests are a nice addition to this dish. Simply shred potato, arrange and fry in hot oil until golden brown.

Notes

Some Thai people prefer to eat the dish minus the potato, eating extra rice instead. Omitting the potato from this massaman curry recipe does not affect the overall flavor.
You can swap out the chicken for pork, beef or shrimp but if using seafood and potatoes then cook the potoates for about 15 minutes before adding in the shrimp as it needs little time to cook through.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Authentic Thai Massaman Chicken Curry Recipe
Amount Per Serving
Calories 906 Calories from Fat 567
% Daily Value*
Fat 63g97%
Saturated Fat 32g200%
Cholesterol 222mg74%
Sodium 934mg41%
Potassium 1726mg49%
Carbohydrates 44g15%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 46g92%
Vitamin A 1653IU33%
Vitamin C 28mg34%
Calcium 129mg13%
Iron 13mg72%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Recipe Keywords:authentitic thai massaman curry, chicken massaman, massaman chicken curry recipe, massaman curry, thai massaman, thai massaman chicken curry
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Photo of homemade massaman chicken curry
A great Thai curry for a romantic dinner or more!

FAQ

Does massaman curry have fish sauce?

Thai massaman curry has fish sauce to provide some umami flavor as well as salt seasoning to the dish. Regional variations may use alternatives or just plain salt instead (which does not add umami flavor).

Where does massaman curry come from?

Massaman curry is a blend of Indian and Malaysian cusines which have been further refined in Thai cuisine for Thai massaman. Different regions will have slightly different ingredients as will different chefs.

Is massman curry paste hot?

Massaman curry paste is a variation of red curry paste and can be hot or less hot depending on the quantity and type of chili and other spices used. The heat level varies widely between home made recipes sold locally.

Is massaman curry red curry?

No, but it is a curry that shares many ingredients with red curry. Massaman curry typically contains cardamon and cumin spices more common in Indian cooking as well as potato, bay leaves and more coconut milk than most varieties of red curry.

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