Massaman Curry

by 18 Jan 2019Kids, Main Meal

Hazel Thornicroft

VI Owner, Foodie, Blogger & Planet Enthusiast

Hazel Thornicroft

VI Owner, Foodie, Blogger & Planet Enthusiast



Ready In:

40 mins


22g per portion

Good For:

Dinner, Kids

Massaman Curry

When I was about 20, I went to Thailand during one of my university summer breaks to work in an orphanage. It was such an incredible experience, working with children who had barely anything but were thoughtful, kind and happy. One day I gave a cheap bracelet to one of the children. I watched as she played with it for about 10 minutes, and then, without hesitation or being asked by her friends or an adult, took it off and gave it to another child. This girl then played with it herself for a bit and again passed it on to another child. This went on for the whole afternoon and it left such an impression on me. It made me realise that I should be that generous and less concerned about holding on to things.


During my visit I also fell in love with Thai people, the Thai countryside and, of course, Thai food. I went back with Keith a few years ago and he discovered massaman curry. After he ate this curry for dinner every other day, I decided I needed to recreate my own version so we could eat it at any time (as much as we love the excuse of going back to Thailand!)

I’ve made this curry using two different methods. First I started by using a very large saucepan. This way took longer but gave me more control over which ingredients went in when (and therefore how long they were cooked for). The second method I used, which works great now but took time to get used to, was using my pressure cooker. At first I overcooked the curry so that potatoes were like mash, and I’d only used a 3 or 4 minute setting. 2 minutes is all you need to perfect this curry! #bonus

Before deciding which method to use, I need to make the sauce.  To do this, I add a leek, root ginger, red chilli, asafoetida, lemongrass, cumin seeds, ground coriander, ground nutmeg, black pepper and vegetable stock into my food processor and blitzed until I have a smooth, rich sauce. I set this aside for later.

N.b. This is a mild curry, however, if you are cooking for young children you may want to consider omitting the chilli.

I will either use a large saucepan for the or put the pressure cooker on sauté mode and add the sliced leeks with some water and cook them for about 3 minutes, until the leeks started to soften. If you prefer, you can finish the leeks off with a tsp of sesame or other oil. I have to admit, I’ve done both methods a few times, and I don’t really notice the difference at the end.

This curry is actually usually made with onions, but because of my intolerance ? I use leeks instead. Feel free to replace the leek with a medium white onion.

Once the leeks were soft, I added the coconut milk and sauce I’d just blended and carried on cooking for around 5 minutes, with plenty of stirring.


Potatoes are an absolute must in a massaman curry, but I usually also include some butternut squash for the extra flavour, nutrients and sweetness. I added these in now to the leeks and sauce.

Learning from my mistakes of previous attempts, I only cook on the manual setting in my pressure cooker for 2 minutes. If I’m cooking on the hob though, I cover and simmer for 15 minutes, checking near the time to see when the vegetables are cooked but not too soft as I don’t want mushy potatoes!

During this time, I start cooking the tofu to add at the end. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a cheat when it comes to fried or baked tofu. I’m not a fan of endless hours of pressing, although it is important to get rid of the excess liquid, so I usually cut the tofu in half lengthways and open it up like a book. I then take kitchen towel and press all sides. Cubing the tofu into the size I want, I add to a large frying pan on a medium heat with sesame oil, soy sauce and cornflour, tossing to make sure all sides are well covered. (You can do this separately in a bowl first before adding to the pan, but as long as you mix well, this step isn’t usually needed – unless your pan is quite small and doesn’t allow much room for tossign the tofu around!).

Once the curry is almost ready, I add in some sugar, soy sauce, salt and peanut butter and cook for another minute or so. These ingredients really make a difference to this curry as they give it extra depth and bring out the flavous of the sauce.

N.b. If I’m using a pressure cooker, I just add the ingredients in after I’ve taken the lid off, keeping the pan on the base as it stays hot for quite a while.

All there is left to do now is to turn off the heat and stir in some spinach and the fried tofu.

I usually serve this with brown basmati or Jasmin rice and a sprinkle of chopped fresh coriander leaves. Believe me, we could eat this curry at least every other day, it is so super delicious. Try it, I know you’ll love it as much as we do!


Massaman Curry

gluten free (if using gf asafoetida) | dairy free
A perfect mild and flavourful curry from Thailand. Less cooking than most curries so you can enjoy this one the whole week round.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Eastern, Thailand
Keyword: Butternut Squash, Curry, easy to make, gluten free, Massaman, plant-based, Soy sauce, Thai, Tofu, Vegan
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 550kcal



  • 1 Leek sliced
  • 4 cm Fresh ginger peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 hot Red chilli (red pepper)
  • 1 tsp Asafoetida or replace with garlic powder
  • 1 Lemongrass stick tough outer shell removed, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp Ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp Ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp Ground pepper to taste
  • 200 ml Veg stock


  • 1 Leek sliced
  • 500 g Potatoes about 2 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 300 g Butternut squash peeled and cubed
  • 400 ml Coconut milk
  • 2 tsp Sugar or sugar alternative
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp Unsalted peanut butter
  • 1 cup Spinach 2 large handfuls
  • Coriander leaves
  • Chopped peanuts to garnish optional


  • 400 g Extra firm Tofu
  • 2 tsp Sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Corn flour


  • To make the sauce, add all the sauce ingredients into a food processor and blend until you have a smooth sauce and set aside.
  • In a large pan on a medium heat, or your pressure cooker on sauté, add your sliced leeks with 4 tbsp water and cook for about 3 minutes, until the leeks start to soften.
  • Add the coconut milk and sauce and continue to cook for 5 minutes, making sure you stir well throughout.
  • Stir in the potatoes and squash to the leeks. If cooking in a pressure cooker set your manual setting to 2 minutes. If cooking on the hob, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked (not too soft).
  • Meanwhile, cube and pat the tofu dry
  • Fry on a medium heat for 5 minutes with the sesame oil, soy sauce and cornflour, tossing to make sure all sides are well covered.
  • Once the curry is nearly done, add in the sugar, soy sauce, salt and peanut butter and cook for another minute or so.
    If using a pressure cooker, just add these ingredients in after you've taken the lid off, keeping the pan on the base as it'll stay hot for quite a while.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the spinach.
  • Serve with Jasmine or brown basmati rice and garnish with coriander leaves and peanuts.


Why not double up the sauce and freeze half for another day? It'll last up to 3 months in the freezer.
Please let me know how your Massaman Curry turns out in the comments!
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Calories: 550kcal

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