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Massaman curry - Vegetarian version

Updated: Apr 25, 2021

This curry is one of the classic curries of Thailand, some of the others being red, green, yellow, jungle, and Panang. It originated on the Southern region of Thailand from the muslim population around the border with Malaysia. This curry is quite different from the Thai curries in that it uses mild spices of Arab origins. A very detailed article on the history and origins of this dish here.

Traditionally this curry is made with meat and potatoes, but this version is vegetarian, just as good, if not better. This is quite a simple curry to make once you have the Massaman curry paste. If you prefer the meat version, I would recommend that that you still use this version of the curry paste.

This vegetarian version must use potatoes and tofu, but the rest are up to your discretion. I use a number of vegetables balancing between colors: white: potatoes, tofu, cabbage, cauliflower; green: broccoli, beans, bok choy, edamame; red: red peppers, carrots, kabocha squash. Essentially, use a mix of these colors of your choice for a beautiful and well balanced curry.

I serve this curry with absolutely decadent and delicious Malaysian parathas, available at any Asian or Indian grocery store in the frozen section, or jasmine rice.

This Thai cookbook was one of the first cookbooks we bought about 10 years ago and I have literally cooked more than 3/4 of the recipes from it. The recipes are all vegetarian and mostly vegan, simple and amazingly delicious. This book is a must for all cooks at home who want to experience the true flavors of Thailand.

Use the term "Thai" to find other amazing Thai recipes on this blog.

For more recipes from this cookbook click here.


For the Massaman curry paste:

10 dried chilies, or to taste. Remove seeds for a milder version

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

1 tablespoon white peppercorns

6 shallots, cleaned and chopped

7 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tablespoon lemongrass paste

1/2 inch galangal

1 kaffir lime leaf

Water as needed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground star anise

1 teaspoon ground green cardamom


For the Curry:

2 tablespoons oil

2 small garlic cloves, minced

1-2 small potatoes, cubed into bite sized pieces

2 carrots, sliced fine

1 red bell pepper (or yellow or orange) diced inotosmall pieces

1/2 cup beans, cut into 1 inch pieces

1/4 cup frozen edamame

1/4 cup frozen corn

1/4 cup canned bamboo shoots, soaked in 2 changes of warm water for 10 minutes each

2-3 tablespoons Massaman curry paste

1 tablespoon palm sugar or sugar

1 can, 13.5 fl oz. coconut milk

1-2 tablespoons tamarind extract

1/2 cup extra firm tofu, cut into small dice

1/4 cup roasted peanuts, kept whole

Lemon juice

2 tablespoons cilantro, minced


To make the Massaman curry paste: Dry roast the chilies and seeds individually on a warm pan till toasted. Cool and grind in a coffee grinder to a fine powder.

Add all the ingredients to a blender and purée into a smooth paste. Add minimal amounts of water, just enough to bring the pureed ingredients down to the bottom of the blender so they can be pureed.

Use what you need and you can freeze the rest for a later occasion. I generally make double the amounts so I can make this curry quite easily the next time.

To make the curry: Heat the oil to a pot that will fit all the vegetables. Add the garlic and sauté on medium heat till the garlic is a light golden color, about 30 seconds. Add the potatoes and carrots and toss and cook for 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers, beans. edamame, corn and bamboo shoots and cook on medium high for about 10 minutes till the vegetables are partially cooked.

Add the Massaman curry paste and toss the vegetables well to coat them. Sauté for about 5 minutes till the curry is cooked and you get a delicious aroma from the curry paste.

Add the tamarind and coconut milk, and bring to a gentle simmer. You can add a touch of water at this point to bring the curry to the consistency of light cream. Simmer gently for 10 minutes. Add salt at the end of the 10 minutes and taste for sourness, salt and spice. Adjust sourness with lemon juice later. Add the tofu and most of the cilantro at the very end and fold in gently.

When you are ready to serve the curry sprinkle the peanuts and cilantro on top. Serve with Jasmine rice or Malaysian parathas.

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