Massaman Curry, History and Recipe


Southern cuisine of Thailand is characterised by its tasty curries and its coconut milk-based soups. Visitors to Koh Samui especially love the massaman curry. But do you know what its origin is?


Massaman is not a Thai word. It refers to "Muslim". Remember that in the South of Thailand approximately 1/4 of the population is Muslim, a proportion 10 times higher than in the rest of the country.


The massaman curry was mentioned for the first time in a recipe book at the end of the 19th century but its origins may date back to the 17th century. This curry is distinguished from others by the use of ingredients such as cardamom and cinnamon.


Since it's a muslim curry, you won't find it with pork but with chicken or beef. In Koh Samui, we don't have local beef so at the cooking school you'll prepare it with chicken. Here's bellow the recipe with chicken. You can also prepare it at home with beef or even lamb, you'll just have to cook it much longer (about 2 hours) on very low heat.


Curry paste: 5 dried cayenne peppers, seeds and stems removed 1 star anise 1 small cinnamon stick (about 10 cm long or 4 to 5 g) The seeds of 3 green cardamom pods 1 teaspoon coriander seeds 1 teaspoon cumin seeds ½ nutmeg 10 g lemongrass, chopped 15 g galangal, chopped 15 g garlic 15 g shallot 1 teaspoon shrimp paste

Dry roast the peppers until they become crunchy. Beware, dry chillies burn easily! Lightly dry toast the star anise, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, cumin and nutmeg to release their aromas. Place all dry ingredients in a mortar and grind to a powder. Then add lemongrass and galangal and pound to a paste. Then add the garlic and shallots. Pound again until the paste is really homogeneous. You should no longer be able to distinguish one ingredient from another. At this point, add the shrimp paste and pound for another minute. In total, it takes about 15 minutes to obtain a smooth paste. Curry sauce: Curry paste prepared according to the above recipe 250 ml coconut cream

200 chicken tenderloin, sliced 250 ml chicken stock 1 bay leaf 1 small cinnamon stick 2 tablespoons fish sauce ½ tablespoon coconut sugar 1½ tablespoon tamarind juice 100 g potato, peeled and cut into slices about 1 cm thick 50 g onion, sliced 4 cherry tomatoes 1 tablespoon unsalted peanuts, dry roasted Bring half of the coconut cream to the boil and dissolve the curry paste in it. Add the chicken and stir briefly. Then add the rest of the cream until the mixture is homogeneous. Add the stock, cinnamon, bay leaf and bring to the boil. Stir in the seasoning (fish sauce, coconut sugar and tamarind juice), potato and onion. Cook over very low heat, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste to adjust the seasoning. Remove from heat, transfer to a serving dish and garnish with tomatoes and peanuts.

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