Chicken Massaman Curry (Kaeng Matsaman Kai) Recipe

Leela Punyaratabandhu

For maximum flavor, it is best to use bone-in pieces of chicken in this curry. The dried spices are optional, but recommended.

Note: Massaman has several spelling variants. Look for anything resembling "massaman" or "masman" on the labels of commercial curry paste.

Recipe Facts



Active: 15 mins
Total: 30 mins
Serves: 4 servings

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  • 1 (13-ounce) can of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup prepared Massaman curry paste (see note)
  • 8 medium-sized chicken drumsticks (about 3 pounds)
  • 1 pound of waxy potatoes (such as red potatoes or yukon gold), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 8 large shallots, peeled or 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons finely-chopped palm sugar or 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons prepared tamarind pulp
  • 3 cinnamon sticks (optional)
  • 4 pieces of star anise (optional)
  • 1/3 cups dry roasted peanuts (optional)


  1. Spoon out about 3/4 cup of the creamy part of the coconut milk that rises to the top of the can and put that in a large heavy-bottomed pot along with the curry paste. Fry the mixture over medium-high heat until the coconut milk starts to turn oily.

  2. Add the chicken drumsticks to the pot along with the remaining coconut milk, sugar, fish sauce, tamarind pulp, and just enough water to barely cover the chicken.

  3. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat; immediately reduce the heat to medium to achieve a simmer. Let the chicken stew, covered, for 10 minutes.

  4. Add the potatoes, shallots, and dried spices (if used) to the pot. Add more water, if necessary to make sure all ingredients are submerged. Adjust the heat to maintain a simmer. Continue to cook, covered, until the chicken, potatoes, and shallots are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

  5. Stir in the peanuts (if used). Remove the curry from heat and let it cool down a bit before serving with steamed jasmine rice.

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