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How To Make Chicken Massaman Curry

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This Chicken Massaman Curry recipe is flavor-packed, and full of curry richness, yet mild on spice (heat). This traditional Thai dish combines an exotic blend of spices and creamy coconut milk to make an irresistible and delightful curry chicken dish.

Cast iron skillet filled with Massaman Curry.

Massaman Chicken Curry is a traditional Thai dish that combines an exotic blend of spices and creamy coconut milk to make an irresistible and delightful curry chicken dish. It’s aromatic, flavor-packed, and full of curry richness, yet mild on spice (heat).

Massaman Chicken Curry is traditionally served with rice or noodles on the side. You can also enjoy this delicious meal as a soup by adding more broth to thin it out!

Origins Of Massaman Curry

You may have heard of Massaman Curry before, and as the name itself infers, there is an ongoing debate about its origin. Massaman curry is considered a Thai curry with origins in Southern Thailand. This flavorful, yet mild massaman chicken curry dish has tender chicken gently simmered with potatoes, onions, cashews, and authentic massaman flavor.

While most people consider Massman Curry as an authentic Thai dish, there is the common and highly probable belief that “massaman” curry has its origins in the Middle East. The most obvious clue is that “massaman” is known to be a derivative of masulman, an archaic form of the Persian word for Muslim, and later in the 19th century as mussulman.

The most compelling evidence is the ingredients used for this delicious chicken curry. Massaman curry can contain several spices in the curry mixture that are not traditional ingredients to Thai cuisine, such as turmeric, star anise, cumin, coriander or cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, to name a few.

Regardless of where the dish originated, this massaman chicken curry recipe has an authentic taste and is delicious! Using your choice of curry powder and a few key Asian sauces, you can skip the takeout and make Massaman Curry with Chicken at home. 

Let’s take a look at how to make this curry recipe.

Equipment

  • Mixing Bowls
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Measuring Cup
  • Large Non-stick Skillet

Ingredients

For this incredible Thai dish, you need the following ingredients:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 ¼ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 3 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup cashews
Ingredients to make Massaman Curry with chicken.

How To Make A Massaman Curry With Chicken

Streamline the process by combining the ingredients that will form the sauce: coconut milk, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, brown sugar, curry powder, a little fish sauce for umami, and tamari sauce.

Brown sugar being added to bowl filled with peanut butter, coconut milk, and hoison sauce.

Set the massaman curry sauce mixture aside and get started on dicing potatoes and onions.

Tip: Place diced potatoes in a bowl and cover with water. This removes some of the starch and keeps them from discoloring.)

Drizzle sesame oil into a large non-stick skillet and turn the burner on medium-high heat, saute the onions then add in the garlic and ginger.

Garlic and ginger being added to a skillet with onions.

Next, add the cubed chicken and cook until it is no longer pink.

Stir in the massaman curry coconut mixture and potatoes; bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Diced potatoes being added to a peanut butter and chicken mixture in a skillet.

Stir in cashews and remove from heat.

Cashews being added to a curry mixture.

What to Serve/Pair with Curry

  • Add some cilantro leaves for a bright note of flavor and a pretty garnish.
  • Make the dish vegetarian by using garbanzo beans or tofu instead of chicken. 
  • You can add various vegetables of your choice to the recipe, such as carrots, cauliflower, and spinach.
  • Lightly toast raw cashews to deepen the flavor.
Scoop of Massaman Curry on the end of a large spoon.

This recipe works well with both Yukon Gold potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Handy tip:

If you can’t find fish sauce, you can substitute soy sauce. Just replace at a 1:1 ratio. Coconut aminos can also be used, but you’ll want to drop it down to a 1:½ ratio as the sweetness can be overpowering.

How to Store Massaman Curry

If you have any leftover Massaman Curry, cover it and keep it in the refrigerator for up to four days. Reheat gently on the stovetop over low heat or in your microwave before serving.

You can freeze leftovers in freezer-safe containers or bags. To thaw, let it sit overnight on the counter and reheat gently on the stovetop over low heat or in your microwave before serving.

FAQs

Yes! Peanuts, or rather peanut butter, are an essential component of the dish.

Yes, this dish is dairy-free. It gets its creaminess from peanut butter and coconut milk.

Yes, because this recipe is made using tamari, it is gluten-free. It can also be made soy-free by substituting coconut aminos for the tamari. 

Yes! You can substitute coconut milk with heavy cream or evaporated milk, but your curry will not have the same flavor profile. I do not recommend substituting coconut milk because it is such a big part of the overall flavor profile, but it can be done.

If your curry seems too thick after it’s finished cooking, add a bit more coconut milk and turn the heat up slightly until all of the liquid has been absorbed into the sauce and reheated. 

No, the curry won’t be too spicy for your kids because it is made with a homemade curry mixture and contains no spicy ingredients. 

Sunbutter, sunflower seed butter, is a natural seed butter and is the substitute that will provide this dish with the closest flavor match for peanut butter. There are other tree nut-free alternatives like Wowbutter, which tastes like peanut butter. If tree nuts are not a problem, you can also try cashew butter or almond butter. 

Umami is our fifth taste, also known as savory. This taste was discovered around 1907 by a Japanese chemist, Professor Kikunae Ikeda. Umami is classified as one of the five basic tastes, four of which are commonly known: salty, sour, sweet, and bitter.

More Delicious Recipes You May Enjoy

massaman curry cooking in a skillet

Massaman Curry Recipe

Skip the takeout and make Massaman Curry with Chicken at home. It's a rich yet relatively mild dish that is great served over rice.
5 from 2 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Thai
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 548kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 can coconut milk (approximately 13.66 ounces)
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tamari sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 2 teaspoons minced ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 ¼ pounds skinless boneless chicken breast, cubed
  • 3 cups potatoes peeled and diced
  • ½ cup cashews

Instructions

  • Combine first seven ingredients (coconut milk to tamari sauce) in a bowl and set aside.
  • Heat sesame oil on medium heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add onions and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the ginger and garlic.
  • Add chicken and cook until it is no longer pink inside.
  • Stir in the coconut mixture and potatoes and bring it to a boil.
  • Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in cashews. Remove from heat.

Nutrition

Calories: 548kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 30g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 60mg | Sodium: 939mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 12g
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massaman curry cooking in a skillet

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2 Comments

  1. I did not see when you added the garlic & ginger…?? With onions?
    Please advice…Thank You!

    1. Oops! Thanks for pointing that out to me. I have updated the recipe card. I think it is best to add the ginger and garlic after the onions have softened just a bit. If you add garlic too early, it can burn.

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