Thai Massaman Curry Paste

Thai Massaman Curry Paste

The Spruce

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 15 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cup
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
601 Calories
30g Fat
76g Carbs
21g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 601
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 30g 38%
Saturated Fat 11g 57%
Cholesterol 11mg 4%
Sodium 3376mg 147%
Total Carbohydrate 76g 28%
Dietary Fiber 12g 43%
Total Sugars 21g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 84mg 421%
Calcium 272mg 21%
Iron 15mg 81%
Potassium 1892mg 40%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Massaman curry hails from the south of Thailand and is different from other Thai curries because the spices have to be roasted beforehand, and it has ingredients not common to Thai cuisine, like cardamom, cinnamon, anise, and nutmeg. Massaman paste is a mashup of the best of Indian flavors and the best of Thai ingredients, and it packs a punch of fragrance, a mildly spicy kick, and the sweetness and tang of lemongrass and galangal. A little massaman goes a long way, and it's traditionally used in chicken curries, to keep in line with Muslim eating restrictions, but can be used on duck, goat, mutton, or venison with great results.

Massaman paste's origin came by way of the spices trade brought to Thailand, which when mixed with local ingredients like galangal, fish, and shrimp paste, brought forth this flavorful savory condiment. The name of the paste might come from "Mussulman," an archaic term to describe Muslims, who introduced many new spices to the area and cooked "Mussulman curries" with this type of paste as early as the 17th century. The term slowly transformed into what it is today and still describes this aromatic mixture of the best of two cultures.

This warm and flavorful curry paste is beautiful on chicken, beef, or lamb. To make a vegan and vegetarian version to use on tofu, seitan, or tempeh, simply skip the fish sauce and shrimp paste, adding a touch of soy sauce instead. Use the paste immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to four weeks, or in the freezer in an ice cube tray for later use. Be aware that there are peanuts in the preparation, so be mindful of people with peanut allergies; use cashews instead.


  • 1/4 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts

  • 2 shallots, sliced

  • 5 cloves garlic

  • 1 to 2 red chiles, or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried crushed chile

  • 1 thumb-sized piece galangal, or ginger, thinly sliced

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced, or 2 to 3 tablespoons prepared lemongrass

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, preferably freshly ground

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste

  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar, or brown sugar

  • 1 to 3 tablespoons coconut milk, for desired consistency

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Thai massaman curry paste ingredients

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until everything is well incorporated into a thick paste.

    Thai massaman curry paste ingredients in a food processor

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  3. Store the curry paste in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid until ready to use.

    Thai massaman curry paste in a jar

    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  4. Enjoy.

How to Use Thai Massaman Curry Paste

Try this easy recipe on how to use Massaman paste:

  • Coat the meat of choice with the paste and brown it in vegetable oil. Cover it with full-fat coconut milk. Simmer until all is cooked to your liking. Garnish the dish with whole roasted peanuts, fresh coriander, and lime wedges. Serve with rice.

Massaman is usually mixed with coconut milk to make curries, but it can be used without as well:

  • Place​ the meat of choice in a bowl—vegetables, tofu, tempeh, or potatoes can also be used—and coat well with enough of the curry paste. Transfer to a baking tray and add 2 to 3 whole bay leaves. Cover with tin foil and bake in the oven at 350 F until cooked through.
  • To cook in a wok, coat the meat or vegetable with the paste, add vegetable oil to a hot wok, and cook until everything is done to your taste.
  • Garnish the dish with whole roasted peanuts, fresh coriander, and lime wedges. Serve with rice.