Cook this: Massaman curry


For those of you playing along at home, you may recognise this photo below from a post I wrote last week, about the BaiPai Cooking School in Bangkok, where I learnt to cook up some seriously delicious Thai food. One of my favourite parts of travelling is experiencing new cultures via their food. If I can learn a few tricks to take that culture home with me, I’m really winning, which is why I loved this cooking school so much – while they did cater for tourists and foreigners, they still kept it authentic and true to their roots.

Photograph © Jess Carey 2014

One of the dishes we learnt to cook in our class was a really amazing chicken Massaman curry, which I’ve made a few times since, back home in my own kitchen. I hadn’t made it for a while and the food nostalgia from writing that post got the best of me, so I decided to whip out my recipe card and get cooking!

IMG_6015As you can see, there are a fair few notes and adjustments made to the little recipe card I got at the school, because we didn’t exactly follow the recipe during our class! I cooked this Massaman according to my notes, and have re-written them so they’ll (hopefully!) be a little easier to follow, should you want to give it a whirl yourself. It’s a really easy recipe which doesn’t require a heap of ingredients or extraordinary kitchen skill to execute, so I hope that’s enough to convince some more Thai food lovers to get behind the wok and give it a go!

It should also be said that, as you can see from the right side of the recipe card, we did learn to make our own curry paste from scratch. I cheated this time and used store bought curry paste because I just didn’t have the time or the energy to make it! As you can see, it’s pretty straight forward and is incredibly delicious, so if you have the time and the inclination, just follow the steps and you’ll be fine.


Ingredients (serves 2 people):

  • 3 – 4 chicken thighs, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tbsp Massaman curry paste (or more, or less, depending on your personal preference)
  • 1½ cups coconut cream
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1½ cups potato, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 4 small shallots, peeled and crushed with the blade of a knife
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 5 crushed cardamon pods
  • 4 tsp castor sugar
  • 4 tsp fish sauce
  • 6 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 tbsp roasted, unsalted peanuts


Then, do this:

  1. Bring half of the coconut cream to a full boil over high heat in a large wok without stirring.
  2. Add the curry paste and stir it in with a flat edged wooden spoon until completely combined, then slowly add in the remainder of the coconut cream, bit by bit and constantly stirring, until it’s all been incorporated.
  3. Add the shallots and chicken to the wok, reduce the heat to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, for 5-6min (aiming to have the chicken about 50% cooked).
  4. Add the coconut milk, potato, bay leaves and cardamon pods. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potato is tender.
  5. Once the potato is cooked through, start adding in the sugar, fish sauce and tamarind paste, bit by bit, until you’re happy with the flavour profile and balance. This is always going to be a personal preference and therefore difficult to give an accurate amount in the ingredient list, so the amounts listed in this recipe will give you a curry to my taste. It can take a bit of trial and error to get your perfect balance.
  6. Remove the cardamon pods and bay leaves before serving the curry with a little rice and topped with the peanuts.



A lot of people love to order these sort of dishes on holidays and at restaurants, but don’t bother trying to cook them at home, because they seem like they might be too complicated, too expensive and too time consuming. That’s a real pity, because this didn’t take me more than 45 minutes start to finish, the ingredients weren’t difficult or expensive to obtain, and as you can see, it’s a pretty simple process. Hopefully this will inspire a few more people to get in the kitchen and re-create some favourite holiday dishes

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