Thai & Vietnamese

Massaman Curry

A mild Thai-style curry loaded with spices and flavour. This version is perfect for vegans, vegetarians and everyone!

A new Thai restaurant has just opened up just a few metres from our house. I was so excited when I saw the sign go up and realized it was going to be Thai, they had to shoo me out a couple of times because they weren’t ready to open yet. I’m obsessed with Thai food and trying to figure out ways to make it vegetarian. It’s not too hard to do once you get over the fish sauce and shrimp paste. You could use a couple of clever substitutions or just leave them out, as in this recipe, and it still tastes absolutely delicious!

Massaman curry is a little different than the other Thai curries which you are probably familiar with. It uses a combination of spices that you don’t normally see in Thai curries and it’s not blow-your-head-off spicy, but it’s still got that sweet-savory-salty creaminess that you’d expect from a Thai curry.

A mild Thai-style curry loaded with spices and flavour. This version is perfect for vegans, vegetarians and everyone!

I first saw this recipe in my copy of The Asian Vegan Kitchen which I borrowed – let’s be real, I stole it (long story) – from my parents’ local library (I plan on returning it … someday). However, it’s almost impossible for me to follow a recipe exactly, so of course I made a few changes. The book includes a simple recipe for the massaman curry paste to which I added galangal, but it can be hard to find so you can leave it out if you don’t have it. Also, she uses fresh chilies, but I only had dried. The chilies I used were long mild ones measuring about 10 cm (4 inches) in length. Don’t use bird’s eye chilies for this!

I ground the dry spices in my trusty stone mortar and pestle, then for convenience I first I broke up the chilies in the food processor along with the lemongrass, ginger, galangal and shallots before transferring everything back to the mortar and pestle to pound the paste as smooth as possible. The result is a dark, super aromatic curry paste that is totally fish free! This recipe makes enough curry paste for two curries so I usually freeze the leftover paste for another day.

Massaman Curry

Massaman Curry

Yield: Serves 4 - 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

This vegan massaman curry features a from-scratch curry paste and a variety of veggies.


For the massaman curry paste

  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 6 dried red chilies, a mild variety about 10 cm (4 inches) long
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped roughly
  • 1.25 cm (1/2 inch) piece of galangal, roughly chopped (optional)
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, tough outer leaves removed, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped
  • 4 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon rind
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 teaspoon ground pepper

For the massaman curry

  • 2 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 tablespoons massaman curry paste
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 100 grams (3.5 ounces) green beans, topped and tailed and cut in half
  • 8 white mushrooms, quartered
  • 1/2 a red pepper, cut into slices
  • 3 cups (750 ml) coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup peanuts, roughly chopped, divided
  • 3 tablespoons tamarind concentrate (*see note below)
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh cilantro, for garnish


    For the massaman curry paste

    1. Toast the cardamom, coriander seeds, cumin seeds and cloves in a small pan over medium heat, tossing frequently, until fragrant – about 3 to 5 minutes. Grind to a powder and reserve.
    2. Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chilies and tear into small pieces. Pulse in a food processor until powdered. Add the remaining ingredients minus the roasted spices and blend into a smooth paste. I couldn’t get mine smooth enough in the food processor so I finished it in my mortar and pestle. Remove to a small bowl and stir in the roasted spices.
    3. Alternatively, work in batches and pound everything in a mortar and pestle. It’s more traditional but could take 30 minutes this way.

    For the massaman curry

    1. Boil the potatoes until soft. Drain and reserve.
    2. Heat oil in a wok or large pan over medium heat. Add the curry paste and fry until fragrant – 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and fry until transparent. Add the green beans, mushrooms and red peppers and fry for a minute or two. Add the coconut milk and bring to a gentle simmer, be careful not to let it boil, and cook until the vegetables are soft. Stir through the tamarind concentrate, palm sugar, salt and 3 tablespoons of the chopped peanuts. Stir to dissolve the sugar and taste. Adjust for sweetness and saltiness if necessary. Add in the boiled potatoes and remove from heat. Serve along with rice and garnished with more chopped peanuts and fresh cilantro.


    Adapted from "The Asian Vegan Kitchen"

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 600Total Fat: 49gSaturated Fat: 34gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gSodium: 632mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 5gSugar: 11gProtein: 10g

    Did you make this recipe?

    Join our Facebook group and share a photo or ask a question!

    *Note: I use this brand of tamarind concentrate but you can also use tamarind pulp dissolved in water. She Simmers has a good tutorial on how to prepare it.

    This post contains affiliate links which help offset the costs of running this website without any additional cost to you.

    This page contains affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. See disclosure policy.

    Get the 14-day meal plan!

    1 Comment

  1. Reply
    Maikki | Maikin mokomin
    February 26, 2016 at 3:59 am

    Sounds delicious! Many recipes use store-bought curry paste so I’m happy to see how to make it from scratch 🙂

  2. Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.