Thai Massaman Curry Paste

Massaman curry in green bowls on a black table

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  • Total: 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 mins
  • Cook: 0 mins
  • Yield: Approx. 1 Cup/1 Serving
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
3 Calories
0g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: Approx. 1 Cup/1 Serving
Amount per serving
Calories 3
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 16mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Protein 0g
Calcium 2mg 0%
*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 — you can easily detect an Indian influence, notably in the addition of Indian spices such as cardamom, cloves, and nutmeg. At the same time, Massaman is also distinctly Thai and has been a traditional part of the cuisine for hundreds of years.

Use this warm and flavorful curry paste to create a wonderful chicken, beef or lamb Massaman curry — or even a delightful vegetarian curry by adding wheat gluten or tofu plus lots of vegetables. You can cook with it immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer for later use.

This recipe calls for palm sugar, which is derived from the sap of the sugar palm tree. Similar to maple syrup, the sap is boiled down to create either rock-like chunks or a paste. You can find palm sugar in Asian markets and health food stores, but feel free to substitute brown sugar.


  • 1/4 cup dry roasted peanuts (unsalted)
  • 2 shallots (sliced)
  • 5 cloves garlic (peeled)
  • 1 to 2 red chilies (1/2 to 1 tsp. dried crushed chili)
  • 1 piece galangal or ginger (thumb-sized, thinly sliced)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass (minced, or 2 to 3 tbsp. prepared lemongrass)
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg (preferably freshly ground)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cardamon
  • 2 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 tsp. shrimp paste
  • 1 tsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 1 to 3 tbsp. coconut milk (depending on how thick you prefer your paste; save the remainder for when cooking your curry or up to 1 can if making a sauce)

Steps to Make It

  1. Place all paste ingredients in a food processor or blender and process well.

  2. To make a sauce rather than a paste, add up to 1 can coconut milk.

To Use Immediately

Place​ the paste in a casserole or baking dish with your choice of chicken, beef, lamb, or tofu/wheat gluten, plus vegetables. Add 2 to 3 whole bay leaves if you have them (this is a common ingredient in Massaman curries). Stir well to combine, cover, and bake in the oven at 350 F, or simmer in a wok, until cooked through. Garnish your Massaman curry with whole roasted peanuts and fresh coriander. Lime wedges can also be served if your curry is on the salty side.

To Store for Later

Curry paste can be stored in a jar or other covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks; freeze thereafter. When ready to use, add coconut milk to make a sauce, then add your curry ingredients.