Massaman Curry Paste

Massaman Curry Paste in Thai is called Nam Phrik Kaeng Massaman. This curry has been influenced by Malay and Java’s food and has become the southern Thai Muslim signature dish with its popularity spread over the entire country since early 19 centuries.

However, there are a few different spices used in southern region recipe which are ground coriander seed and cumin, Indian red chili powder and black pepper powder fried with oil then add the curry paste and fry believing these fried spices enhance a stronger fragrance and spicier taste to the curry dish.

Thai Muslims call the dish “Salaman” The original recipe from Malay tastes salty while Thai Muslims prefer a sweet taste.

Additional unique ingredients to use in this curry recipe are coriander and cumin seeds, ground nutmeg, clove and cardamom seeds. These additional spices bring a beautiful aroma and strong fragrance that distributes a distinctive flavor to the dish.

In my recipe, I recommend a simple method which is my secret for making an aromatic Thai curry paste in traditional ways.

Firstly, dry fry (without oil) coriander, cumin, clove and cardamom seeds in a pan before grinding with a mortar and pestle or a faster result I recommend using a coffee grinder (a small portion may not be good to use with a coffee grinder).

Secondly, wrap the shrimp paste with foil and cook under either a hot grill or on a charcoal grill for a few minutes. Doing this will definitely bring a strong fragrance to your curry dish!

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Using a stone mortar and pestle, start pounding from wet ingredients (garlic, shallot, chilies, kaffir lime skin, lemongrass and galangal) until smooth, then add ground spices stated on the first step above, and lastly add shrimp paste to form a smooth paste.

Massaman Curry Paste
Preparation: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Spicy Level: mild

Dried chilies 10 wholes
Coriander Seeds 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds 1 tbsp
Cardamom seeds 1 tbsp
Nutmeg 1 tsp
Clove ½ tsp
Lemongrass finely chopped (use part from root to the middle) 2 tbsp
Black peppercorns 1 tbsp
Garlic peel skin off 3 cloves
Shallots peel skin off and sliced ½ cup
Salt 1 tsp
Shrimp paste 1 tbsp

How to make:

  • Dry fry coriander, cumin, clove and cardamom seeds in a pan over low to medium heat. Constantly shake the pan to prevent the seeds burning.

  • Wrap the shrimp paste with foil and cook under a hot grill or you may cook on a charcoal grill for a few minutes, turning the package twice.

  • Grind dry fried coriander, cumin, clove, cardamom seeds and black peppercorns in a mortar and pestle until smooth.

  • Process ground spices, shrimp paste and all fresh ingredients in a food processor until smooth. You may scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula during blending process to help the mixture forms a smooth paste.

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