Masaman Curry (simplified)

This is the simplified version of my masaman curry recipe. Starred items below indicate ingredients to be purchased at your local Asian market. The shopping list quantities have nothing to do with the amount to be used; consider them minimum amounts to have on hand for the actual preparation.


Serves 4-5

Shopping list

  1 tbsp vegetable oil
  1 lb chicken dark or breast meat
small container masaman curry paste*
1 head garlic
1 can chicken stock
1 can crushed pineapple
½ cup peanuts
peanut butter
1 large baking potato
1 large yams about the same size as the potato
¼ lb carrots
1 cans coconut milk*
1 small onion
thin soy sauce*
lime juice
½ cup cashews (or less if you want to be chintzy)
Jasmine rice


Pictured: Mae Ploy Masaman Curry Paste, Thin Soy Sauce, Mae Ploy Coconut Milk and Jasmine Rice from your Asian market.

Mise en place

1. Freeze chicken slighly, about 1 hour, to make it easy to cut very thin slices.

2. Decoratively cut yams first, then potato slices using a mandolin on the wavy setting, arrange on a ½ sheet, drizzle with olive or other oil and place in oven on 350° for 20-30 minutes depending on thickness of cut. Don’t forget that potato slices oxydize quickly; they cannot be prepared ahead of time; start cooking them as soon as they are cut. Once finished, remove from oven and hold until you put them into the curry.

Cut the carrots similarly; do not bake them, but use them as directed by the recipe.

3. Lay out other ingredients in finger bowls, ramekins, bowls, etc. ready for use. This can be done while the meat simmers.


  1 tbsp vegetable oil
  1 lb chicken dark or breast meat
2 tbsp curry paste
2 cloves garlic
½-1 can chicken stock
½ can crushed pineapple
½ cup peanuts
2 tbsp peanut butter
1 large baking potato
1 large yams about the same size as the potato
3 large carrots
1-2 cans coconut milk
1 tbsp sugar
1 small onion
2 tbsp thin soy sauce
1 tbsp lime juice
½ cup cashews (or less if you want to be chintzy)
2 cups Jasmine rice


1. Add oil, curry paste and 2 tbsp of coconut milk and cook on medium to medium high, stirring constantly until oil starts to separate from mixture, about 3 minutes. Do not burn; remove pan from heat if it starts to burn (it was too hot).

2. Add meat, garlic and additional 1 tbsp of coconut milk; cook meat letting curry paste coat meat and cook in. Simmer meat on low over the next steps to draw out the collagen (if dark meat) making the meat tender and pleasant to eat. If the meat is white, cook underdone and remove to side. During this time, you can finish your mise en place.

If you like lots of sauce, plan on increasing the following: curry paste, coconut milk and other liquid ingredients. If you’re cooking white meat, don’t use all the curry paste, but leave (add) some in the pan to cook the dish separately (since you’ll be adding the meat back in at the very end).

3. Mix in pineapples, pineapple juice, peanuts, peanut butter and water. Add onion, sugar, lime juice and another 4 tbsp of coconut milk. Simmer 1520 minutes (if dark meat, 10 minutes for curry into which the white meat has not been added back) on low.

4. Add remaining coconut milk and stir. Adding the balance of the coconut milk at the end gives a fresher flavor. Add the yam and potato slices and, if using white meat, add the chicken. At this point, your guests should already be at the table, finished with their salad course and ready to attack the curry dish.

Preparing the potatoes...

My approach to the potatoes, yams and carrots in this recipe is an attempt (and a successful one) to imitate the vegetable preparation of curries at one of my favorite Thai restaurants. It is not really necessary to cook the potatoes and yams separately. To simplify, just throw them in raw a bit later than the carrots. But, if you do this, you must positively never use Russets—only golds or reds which are waxy (not starchy) and won’t dissolve into the sauce.