Recipe: Chicken Massaman Curry

I first came across this dish as a ready meal. I know, I know, I hate ready meals and think they are awful value, but this was (1) from Waitrose, (2) very nice and (3) reduced. Clearly it didn’t suit the tastes of regular ready meal consumers though, as I’ve never seen it since. I craved this dish for months, then ordered a beef version in a Thai Restaurant in Northampton (if you’re in the area, do give the Thai Emerald a go – one of the best meals I’ve had in the town!) and again loved it. I’m not sure why I waited so long before making my own!

One of the things I love most about this curry is that it tastes pretty Indian, so helps that craving (I really struggle to find a spicy and tomato free Indian curry that’s actually good), but still is fresh and fragrant like the more typical Thai curries. Its creamy, nutty, spicy, and full of interesting textures. Maybe not the healthiest dish in the world, but it is damn good and tasty. Just what I want from a Saturday night curry.

Note: I bought a Massaman curry paste. It is actually one of the most complex curry pastes to make, and the extensive ingredients list (most of which did not reside in my cupboards!) really put me off. So I bought in. I’d love to make up a paste at some point in the future, but spices are expensive, and although I’m slowly building up my collection I’m having to do it one spice at a time, spreading the cost out. Remember, if you are allergic to tomatoes, check the label of any paste you buy. Thai pastes are generally tomato-free, but always check!

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You will need:

  • Chicken breast – one per person
  • 1 onion
  • 1 potato (I’d maybe up this to 2 next time, as this was my favourite part)
  • Half a pot (3-4 tablespoons) of massaman curry paste
  • 4 cardamon pods
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • To taste (I have added the amount I used as a guide) – 1 teaspoon of tamarind paste, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, a squeeze of lime juice, and two handfuls of raw peanuts (ie not the salted snack version)

And to create a delicious curry:

Prepare: chop the chicken into chunks, peel and dice the potato (around 1cm cubes), slice the onion and crush the cardamom pods.

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2014-01-04 18.20.46Then fry the curry paste (with a little oil if it looks dry) along with the crushed cardamom and cinnamon for a minute.

2014-01-04 18.21.06Then fry the chicken in the pan until completely sealed, adding the onion and potato part-way through. When sealed, add the coconut milk (I only needed just over 1.5 cans, so add the second slowly).

2014-01-04 18.34.28Simmer on a very low heat (don’t boil or the coconut milk might split) for around 25-40 minutes until thickened, glossy and the chicken and potato are cooked through. Meanwhile cook any rice or other accompaniments you feel like.

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Stir in the seasonings – fish sauce, tamarind paste and lime juice. The fish sauce should serve as the salt in this recipe. I will warn you – these parts of vital towards the taste. The dish truly wouldn’t be the same without them.

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Serve into warmed bowls, spooning the sauce over the meat/potatoes. I took the last few photos before adding the sauce, hence it might look a little odd! When we ate this the bowls were almost full of the most deliciously thick and savoury sauce.

2014-01-04 19.42.56I really would urge you to try this curry, its a great introduction to Thai food, and is simply one of my favourites.

Whats your favourite curry recipe?

  • karen278

    DO love a curry and this looks fabulous! Happy New Year! Karen

  • That looks divine! I love a good curry!

    • Thanks, it tasted pretty good too! Thanks for commenting 🙂 x

  • meg

    this looks amazing but I dont eat chicken! I was wondering.. I dont eat meat, apart from fish. Do you ever do meat-less recipes? Vegetarian/Pescetarian sorta meals?? You recipes would be so easy to follow if you did. Anyway just a thought! 🙂 x

    • I do eat quite a few vegetarian dishes (I don’t regularly eat fish as I find I can’t afford it) but never think to photograph and blog about them! Now you’ve mentioned it I’ll definitely rethink that, any kind of recipe you’d really like to see? Thanks for the suggestion!