Thai Massaman Vegetarian Curry

Thai Massaman Vegetarian Curry

The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 25 mins
Total: 45 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
419 Calories
19g Fat
55g Carbs
17g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 419
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 19g 24%
Saturated Fat 7g 37%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1008mg 44%
Total Carbohydrate 55g 20%
Dietary Fiber 19g 66%
Total Sugars 19g
Protein 17g
Vitamin C 188mg 938%
Calcium 193mg 15%
Iron 7mg 36%
Potassium 1440mg 31%
*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.)

This deeply flavored dish is a beautiful example of Southern Thai cooking, which makes use of a broader array of spices and herbs than most Thai curries. It's the vegetarian equivalent of Massaman chicken and beef curry, which are hearty and robust with warm spices. Arab traders brought these fragrant spices, such as whole cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg, to Thailand several centuries ago. You'll find the flavors so lovely, and the textures of the vegetables so satisfying, there is no need or desire for meat. And because there are beans in this dish, the combination of curry and rice makes for a complete protein with all the amino acids you need to be healthy and happy. Vegetable curries are becoming more popular in Thailand now that vegan and vegetarian restaurants are springing up everywhere. It's a wonderful cuisine for veggie lovers.  

"This vegetarian massaman was a flavorful dish and, despite the long list of ingredients, is a pretty easy preparation. I used butternut squash and added a minced red chile pepper. The curry was mild and made a tasty meal with rice." —Diana Rattray

Thai Massaman Vegetarian Curry Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 ounce fresh galangal or ginger (2 thumb-size pieces), peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1/3 cup chopped onion

  • 1 small red chile pepper, minced

  • 3 cups vegetable stock

  • 4 medium bay leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (use wheat-free for gluten-free diets)

  • 4 whole cardamom pods (Thai cardamom, or green cardamom)

  • 12 cups cauliflower florets

  • 2 cups cubed pumpkin (1-inch cubes)

  • 1 large carrot, sliced

  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

  • 1/4 to 1/3 can coconut milk

  • Sea salt, to taste

  • 2 medium green onions, sliced

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh coriander or basil

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    ingredients for making vegetarian massaman curry

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  2. Heat a deep, medium-size pot over high heat. Drizzle in oil and add garlic, galangal or ginger, onion, and chile. Stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes.  

    A pan with onion, garlic, and spices cooking in oil

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  3. Add stock plus bay leaves, turmeric, ground cardamom, cumin, cumin seed, ground coriander, cloves, and soy.

    A pot filled with stock, spices, onion, and garlic

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  4. For the whole cardamoms, use the flat side of a wide knife to smash them open (put pod the under the flat side of the knife, and come down hard on it with your fist). Then add both the shell and seeds to the curry pot.

    A plate with cardamom shells and seeds on it

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  5. Add cauliflower, pumpkin, carrot, and chickpeas. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium until you get a good simmer going. Cover, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until everything is cooked to your liking. 

    A pot filled with cauliflower, pumpkin, and carrots simmering in broth

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  6. Add cherry tomato halves, and simmer another 5 minutes, or until soft. 

    A pot of vegetables and broth with halved cherry tomatoes

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  7. Reduce heat to low, and add 1/4 can coconut milk. Taste-test for flavor and saltiness, Start by adding 1 tablespoon soy sauce. If more is needed, add sea salt, taste-testing until the desired flavor is reached. If too spicy, add more coconut milk. Remove cardamom pods.

    A pot simmering with vegetables and coconut broth

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

  8. Top with sliced green onion and chopped fresh coriander or basil. Serve with Thai jasmine rice and enjoy.

    Serving bowls of vegetarian massaman curry served over rice

    The Spruce Eats / Maxwell Cozzi

Recipe Variations

  • Add a cinnamon stick and/or a star anise for more warm spice flavor.
  • Swap out part or all of the squash or pumpkin with cubed potatoes or sweet potatoes.
  • Add a handful of crushed peanuts to the garnishes.
  • For more coconut flavor, replace 1 cup of the vegetable broth with extra coconut milk.
  • For spicier curry, add a teaspoon of sambal oelek or a dash of cayenne pepper.

How to Store and Freeze

  • Refrigerate vegetarian massaman curry in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • To freeze massaman curry, transfer cooled curry to zip-close freezer bags or airtight freezer containers. Freeze the curry for 2 to 3 months—thaw in the refrigerator overnight.
  • Reheat massaman curry in a saucepan over medium-low heat until hot.

Is Massaman Curry Vegan?

This recipe for Thai vegetarian massaman curry is also vegan.