Today, Auntie Oi, an inspiring leader of the Hua Takhe community, will share her secret recipe of making authentic Thai massaman curry from scratch! But first, let’s find out a little bit about the origins of this classic Thai curry that has even been ranked as the world’s best foods by CNN travel.


Curries are one of the essentials in Thai cuisine. But massaman is special for its middle-eastern origins, believed to have been introduced to Thailand by Persian merchants. It soon became an important part of local halal cuisine. Today, it is a go-to curry for many Thais and foreigners alike beloved for its savory, sweet and subtle tastes derived from the unique process of roasting the spices in the curry paste.

Ready to cook Thai Massaman Curry for yourself? Put your aprons on!



Dry ingredients, for roasting:

  • 9 dried spur chilies, seeded and soaked to soften
  • 1 nutmeg
  • 1 cinnamon stick, 1-inch long
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 white cardamom pods
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 tsp white peppercorns
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds

Wet ingredients:

  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp finely sliced mature galangal
  • 1 tsp finely sliced kaffir lime zest
  • 25 small to medium cloves Thai garlic, peeled
  • 9 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 tsp shrimp paste
  • 1 fresh fresh banana leaf for roasting shrimp paste (optional)
  1. Pre-preparation: Slice open and soak the dry spur chilies in water (remove the seeds if you don’t prefer your dish to be too spicy). Proceed with steps 2-4.
  2. Roast the spices! Place a pan on low heat and start with the hardest & biggest spices first. Place the nutmeg, cinnamon stick and star anise in the pan & stir around.
  3. Next, remove the black seeds inside the cardamom pods and roast those as well. Finally, add the bay leaf, the cloves, the white peppercorns, cumin, coriander seeds and stir them all around for a couple of minutes until it smells good and a nice aroma starts to emerge. Remove from heat.

Local Cooking Tip: When pounding spices in the mortar, the chili seeds have a tendency to hop out. Place your hand to cover the top of the mortar as you use the pestle so that the ingredients stay put!

  1. Take all the dry roasted ingredients, pour them into the mortar and pound until they become a very fine powder.
  2. Next, prepare and finely slice the fresh ingredients for the curry paste starting from lemongrass & galangal. If you have two mortars, you can pound the wet ingredients separately. Otherwise, remove the dry ingredients from the mortar, and place the slices of lemongrass and galangal into the mortar & add a pinch of salt, then pound them together. Add in the slices of kaffir lime zest & continue to pound.
  1. Add the dry spur chilies soaked in water from Step 1. If you cannot eat spicy, make sure you have removed the chili seeds. If you prefer spicy, keep the chili seeds. Add the soft chilies into the mortar, continue to pound with other ingredients until a fine paste is achieved; then add in the shallots and garlic. Keep pounding.

Local Cooking Tip: When pounding spices in the mortar, the chili seeds have a tendency to hop out. Place your hand to cover the top of the mortar as you use the pestle so that the ingredients stay put!

  1. Optional: If you have a banana leaf, use it to wrap around the shrimp paste. Take the shrimp paste wrapped in banana leaf. Hold it in a pair of tongs and roast it over the heat of your gas or electric stove (see 4:55 in the video) for a couple of moments until it smells good. Unwrap the banana leaf and add the shrimp paste into the mortar and pound to combine with other wet ingredients. (If you have no banana leaf, simply add the un-roasted shrimp paste into the mortar & pound to combine well.)
  1. Finally, add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and pound until well mixed. Your massaman curry paste is done!



  • 700 g. chicken thighs and/or drumsticks
  • 6 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups coconut cream
  • ½ cup Massaman curry paste (recipe above)
  • 6 whole medium-sized onions, peeled
  • 1 cup (250 g) potato, peeled and cut into large pieces
  • ¼ cup peanuts, roasted
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • A 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • ¾ cup palm sugar
  • ½ cup tamarind juice
  • ¼ cup fish sauce
  • Optional: Pounded garlic cloves and slices of aged ginger, for marinating chicken.
  1. Rinse the chicken pieces. Put the meat into a bowl and set it aside.
    Tip: If you want the chicken to be extra tasty and aromatic, marinate it in some pounded garlic & aged ginger for 1-1.5 hrs before cooking.
  2. Pour the coconut milk into a pot and place over low heat. Add the meat from the start. Stir frequently to prevent the coconut milk from separating and lumping. Cook until the meat is tender (around 1 hour).
  3. Heat one cup of coconut cream in a pan over medium heat. When it comes to a boil, add the Massaman curry paste. Stir-fry and add the remainder of the coconut cream little by little until finished. Cook until the paste is fragrant and the red oil surfaces.
  4. Combine the paste into the pot of chicken & coconut milk. Stir to mix evenly.

  1. Next, in another pan, fry the 6 whole onions in oil over medium heat until they turn golden brown at the edges. Place those and the sliced potatoes into the pot of coconut milk along with the roasted peanuts, bay leaves, cloves, the 1-inch cinnamon stick, palm sugar, tamarind juice and fish sauce. Taste and adjust to the desired sweet, sour and salty combination.
  1. Bring to a boil and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent lumps. When the potato is done, and the flesh becomes translucent, remove it from the heat.
  2. It’s then ready! Divide among individual bowls and serve. Enjoy your home-cooked thai massaman curry delight!
Massaman curry
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