Sunday evening, we were set to go to an Italian restaurant, when I decided to “cook for the week”. I pulled out some Massamun paste from the freezer and Bee made some rice. Half an hour later, the house smelt like our fav Thai restaurant. We devoured a couple of bowlfuls and forgot about the Italian place.

Whenever we go to a Thai restaurant, Bee gets the Green Curry, I get Massamun/Massaman if it’s on the menu.

This is probably the second best Massaman curry we’ve tasted. The best was at a restaurant in Edinburgh, Scotland. The chef rustled up a perfectly spiced creamy stew with potatoes and tofu for us, though it wasn’t on the menu.

“Massamun/Massaman is the heartiest of all Thai stew-like curries. This curry paste is complex and elaborate, containing more ingredients, especially dried-roasted flavors, than any other curry pastes …

Dating back to the ancient kingdom of Ayudthaya, King Narai, who was fond of Indian food, imported a chef for the royal kitchen. From the royal court, the aromatic massamun curry made its into the mainstream Thai diet, and its paste still contains an extraordinary variety of Indian herbs and spices,”

says Chat Mingkwan, in his book Buddha’s Table: Thai Feasting Vegetarian Style. This recipe has been adapted from that book, with the seasonings adjusted to suit our tastes.

Muslim, and later Portuguese, traders brought spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, cloves and nutmeg from the Middle East and India to the south coast of Thailand. The name Massaman is thought to be derived from the word “Musulman”, the older form of the word “Muslim”. (Wiki)

It’s a richer, heartier version of Thai Yellow Curry and usually features beef and potatoes or sweet potatoes. Vegetarians usually replace the beef with other starchy veggies like carrots or water chestnuts. We didn’t have any potatoes, so tofu did the trick. While the Massaman served at restaurants does not usually have pineapple, this recipe did. It add a wonderful flavour dimension.

The tamarind, coconut and spices give it a south Indian flavour.

Tamarind (Tamarindus Indica) is called ‘Indian date‘, and is the fruit of the evergreen tamarind tree. Tamarind leaves are used in a variety of preparations in India. The fruits are very tangy and a tad sweet – with notes of date and lime. Tamarind is the secret ingredient in Worcestershire sauce. Nutritional info here.

Usually, we make it using Maesri brand Massaman Curry paste. Making the paste from scratch make a huge difference to the flavour. Though the ingredient list is long they are usually items we have in our pantry and the procedure is very simple. If you have the paste in the freezer, you can use any combo of veggies to create this dish in 20 minutes.

Our PICTORIAL GLOSSARY of common Thai ingredients.

THAI MASSAMUN CURRY PASTE (Namprik Gaeng Massamun)

Makes 1 cup

6 large red dried chillies (like California, New Mexico or Guajillo)
**we used New Mexico chillies
2 tsps whole coriander seeds
2 tsps whole cumin seeds
5 whole green cardamoms
1 small cinnamon stick
half whole nutmeg
5 whole cloves
1 tsp black peppercorns
3 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 tablespoons chopped lemongrass (fleshy midsection)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
1 tablespoon chopped galangal
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves and stems
2 tsps chopped kaffir lime leaves (or lime zest)
2 tsps fermented bean curds (you can leave this out)

1. Stem and seed the chillies. Chop them with kitchen scissors and soak them in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Discard the bitter water, and squeeze the chillies dry.

2. Roast the cumin and coriander seeds, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and peppercorns until fragrant (3 to 4 minutes on medium heat in a dry pan).

3. Using a mortar and pestle, or a food processor, blend all the ingredients to a smooth paste, using a little water if necessary.

We usually freeze this paste in 1/3 cup portions.


In lieu of coconut cream (available in a can), you can use regular or lite coconut milk. The original recipe uses about 4 cups total coconut milk and coconut cream. I used just one 13.5 ounce can (about 2 cups). For frying the curry paste, if you don’t have canned coconut cream, just use 1 tbsp coconut oil or vegetable oil.

You could also use coconut milk powder. Mix 1/3 cup coconut milk powder and enough water to make 1 cup coconut milk.

Serves 6 to 8

1/3 cup namprik gaeng massamun (massamun curry paste)
**less if using storebought
1 cup coconut cream (or coconut milk)
about 1 cup coconut milk (low-fat is fine)
1 pound small new potatoes (we used cubed firm tofu)
2.5 cups assorted veggies
(we used pearl onions, carrots and green bell peppers)
1.5 cups diced pineapple (I used frozen)
1 walnut-sized ball of tamarind pulp soaked in hot water to get 1/2 cup thick paste
1/4 cup lite soy sauce (we use tamari)
2 tablespoons powdered palm sugar/jaggery/brown sugar
1 veg bouillon cube or 2 tsps Better than Bouillon vegetable base
3 whole green cardamoms
3 whole bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
salt to taste

To garnish:
1/2 cup whole roasted peanuts
julienned green bell peppers

1. Heat 1/2 cup of the coconut cream on medium heat and cook the curry paste in it for 3 to 5 minutes until fragrant.

2. Add everything else and bring to a boil. (Do not add salt as the tamari and bouillon have plenty. Add it only after tasting at the end.)

3. Simmer covered until the veggies are cooked.

4. Check the seasonings. Add salt if you need it, cayenne powder if you want it hotter, or coconut milk if you want it milder.

5. Stir in half of the roasted peanuts. Garnish with the remaining peanuts and julienned bell peppers and serve.

The dish is served with rice and sometimes with pickled ginger or Ajaad – a sauce made with cucumber and peppers macerated in vinegar.

Good with rice, better with Cheese-Mustard Bread.

Thai Massamun Curry with Tamarind goes to Marija @ Palachinka for Weekend Herb Blogging.

Ning’s Kitchen

Massaman Curry with Chicken, Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes.

- Jai

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  1. Rashmi says:

    Jai,what a lovel dish.My family loves thai food.I would love to try this recipe.


  2. Lisa says:

    Beautiful fusion dish. I’m thinking I would use paneer instead of the tofu.

  3. SuperChef says:

    absolutely lovely. I just love it when i make the curry paste at home rather than the store bought ones. This one, I haven’t made yet! thanks for the recipe :)

  4. Happy Cook says:

    The Massamun paste is new to me, the curry looks so so creamy yummy delicous.
    If i had this curry i would also forget the italian place and jai i thought when i clicked to the you tube to see you cooking the curry :-)
    Really disapointed :-)

  5. Parita says:

    Lovely and tasy dish..looks gorgeous…it that a blue bandhani?

  6. Sara says:

    Thank you SO much for posting a recipe for massaman paste. We’re always trying to get rid of pre-packaged foods, but haven’t yet had a go at duplicating curry pastes. I will try this soon!
    Sara in Salt Lake City

  7. Roshni says:

    looks yummy. I may end up using most of the substitutes which may make it ‘interesting’!
    Love the bandini print too!

  8. Rosa says:

    A gorgeous curry! I’m addicted to such yummy dishes! Beautiful too!



  9. Manggy says:

    I really shouldn’t be up this late. Looking at these pics is making me hungry at 2AM! Arrgghh!!

  10. Cilantro says:

    I love Thai food. Thai food in Scotland???Looks very Delicious. Will have to try next time if I see it on the menu. I usually go with Panang Cuury or the spicy noodles.

  11. arundati says:

    looks gorgeous… i’ve not tried my hand at any thai curries yet…. haven’t yet figured where the hell i’ll get lemon grass from!!

  12. varsha says:

    yum yum yum..nothing more to say..:)

  13. Cham says:

    Never tried this curry, the coconu milk and tamarind gives definetly a Indian touch!

  14. le @HC says:

    Inviting… Love tofu in thai curries,

  15. Sonu says:

    Never tried this curry. Heard a lot though. Jai-Bee, I am skeptical about taking the amount of nutmeg. Isn’t toooo much? As it is very strong flavored spice. I have a small lollipop size nutmeg…so how much should I use? Well, I don’t think so. Please clear it. Thank you.:)

  16. Soma says:

    I recently discovered this & just loved the massaman curry. I like this veggie tofu better than mine..the crisp veggies looks yum! i had used only eggplant.

  17. Divya vikram says:

    Lovely!!Colorful healthy dish!

  18. Sharmila says:

    Lovely looking flavourful dish! I did not know tamarind leaves were used / eaten too.

  19. Raaga says:

    Well… I’d stay at home even if it was a pot of dal boiling away… for this curry and rice, I’d be willing to give up other stuff methinks :)

  20. Madhumathi says:

    I love coconut milk based curries..your thai curry looks delectable!

  21. Alka says:

    Pity …there is not a single restaurant around , which serves decent Thai Meals..talking about authentic flavors then the So called Chinese food that is served as Indo-Chinese Version, is more INDO than Chinese(though i love it better than authentic chinese)
    But yeah Italian/Thai foods are on my agenda ,as soon as we relocate to our new place which is tad more MODERN than the place where we currently reside
    Till then i am just drooling at the food here and trying to get some whiff of this at least,if not being able to taste ;-)

  22. Johanna says:

    This looks delicious – I want to make it but I don’t have tamarind nor time for such a curry just now – but this is in my bookmarks with hope!

  23. pelicano says:

    Loved that video! Your paste recipe and final dish look absolutely wonderful…and you are so right: after the paste is on hand, Thai curries are quick-to-make and tantalizing to taste. Will be trying your recipe…

  24. Arundathi says:

    This is my favorite Thai curry of all time because I love peanuts in almost anything. Lovely photos as always. I could never find half those Thai ingredients in Chennai, but I guess I can vicariously through your blog!

  25. Arundathi says:

    Btw, the cheese mustard bread sounds spectacular. Can I request the recipe please?

  26. Deb says:

    Hang on, hang on, are you the same jugalbandits who supposedly don’t go to a lot of trouble when preparing meals at home? Hmmmm?

    I suppose I can see how it isn’t too labor intensive if you have the frozen paste already but sheesh – many days just assembling that many ingredients would be enough to trigger the desire for a little nap after.

    Work aside, this looks delicious and I can only imagine how wonderful the aroma must be when it fills your home.

    Lovely cloth on the table, great composition in the photos as always. Did you save a portion to photograph after you ate? I cannot imagine how much of my saliva would have been in the way/ono the camera if I was framing the photos first rather than eating my dinner. Bravely done!

  27. maryann says:

    This looks delicious Bee :)

  28. A&N says:

    Looks great! We love Thai and its a regular every week. And it is indeed a breeze if you have the pastes ready.

    I haven’t tried Massaman as yet and would love to try this, this week!

  29. nikita says:

    The cheese mustard bread sounds really interesting. Can you please post the recipe?

  30. Kalai says:

    Curry looks delicious and makes me hungry.

  31. Jamie says:

    The curry looks great Jai! It’s crazy and wonderful that you were able to get a delicious Indian inspired Thai dish at a restaurant in Scotland! Talk about a small world :)

  32. anudivya says:

    Typical girl I guess… my eyes went first to the lovely blue piece of cloth that forms the background :)
    Curry looks pretty awesome.

  33. Bharti says:

    Gosh, I’d ditch the restaurant too for this stuff.

  34. Nirmala says:

    Oh Jai, u made the curry and Bee made the rice ? So nice :) The curry looks spectacular and Bee it must be u’re saree/dupatah which is wonderful!

  35. Giff says:

    this is the kind of thing I love to eat at a restaurant and really should step out of my comfort zone, hunt down the ingredients, and make it. Lovely recipe (and pics).

  36. Uma says:

    OMG! so colorful and tempting curry. Gorgeous :) Love the background too!

  37. Ooo…I love Thai dishes. Sounds mouthwatering. And looks so picture-perfect, too. What professional plating!

  38. Chennette says:

    The massamun curry is my favourite. I tried once making the paste from scratch and although I had to make some necessary substitutions, it wasn’t too bad. Where in Edinburgh did you get your Thai food? While I was there I got mostly homemade Thai food (from a kitchen mate who took lessons from the Thai students a couple floors below), but there was a restaurant that did some great veggie curries, just at the time, it was a bit expensive for my student pocket.
    (love the photo with the bread!)

  39. Margie says:

    Just reading the list of ingredients is intoxicating. I admit, I had to Google a few of the items. I believe I’ve had this prepared for me before, but minus meats or tofu, my friend used hard boiled eggs.

  40. Rashmi says:

    this is the only thai curry that i didn’t like much when i tried at home, time to try yours

  41. Kavitha says:

    isnt masammun predominantly ground-nuts ? I was hoping you would make a paste of the groundnuts to give it that dominant taste somehow – but was disappointed. But you say second best – maybe time to try it out. I have tried your red curry – somehow am unable to get rid of the bitter taste of the new mexico chillies. Yellow curry was disappointing but it was my mistake. Hopefully my attempt at masammun will be better …

  42. rahin says:

    Gorgeous ! looks very mouth watering

  43. notyet100 says:

    curry looks yum,..;-)

  44. Jude says:

    I also use Maesri curry pastes. Making the pastes from scratch can be.. a bit involved. :)

  45. tigerfish says:

    Healthy tasty curry :D

  46. [...] called Isda thai that i would highly recommend. But for now, let me recommend to you this Massamun curry i made off the jugalbandits blog. I made a few changes to accommodate the ingredients i had on [...]

  47. Sunshinemom says:

    This looks and sounds very tasty! I am copying the recipe down in my must do recipes folder. Thanks! I heard we get kaffir lime leaves in Nature’s Basket. Must get some and try this one!

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