Massaman curry

Massaman curry
Chicken massaman
Type Curry
Place of origin Thailand
Main ingredients Meat (beef, duck, tofu, chicken), coconut milk, onion, peanuts or cashews, potatoes, bay leaves, cardamom pods, cinnamon, star anise, palm sugar, fish sauce, chili and tamarind sauce
Cookbook: Massaman curry  Media: Massaman curry

Massaman curry (Thai: มัสมั่น, RTGS: matsaman, pronounced [mát.sā.màn]) is a rich, relatively mild Thai curry.[1]


Massaman or matsaman is not a native Thai word. It is generally thought to refer to the Muslims, with earlier writers from the mid-19th century calling the dish "Mussulman curry"; Mussulman being an archaic form of the word Muslim.[2][3]

According to Thai food expert David Thompson, as well as Thai journalist and scholar Santi Sawetwimon, the dish originated in 17th century Central Thailand at the cosmopolitan court of Ayutthaya, through the Persian merchant Sheik Ahmad Qomi from whom the Thai noble family of Bunnag descends.[4] Other theories contend that massaman is a southern Thai dish, influenced by Malay and Indian cuisine,[5] or that its name is derived from the Malay word masam, which means "sour".

The curry is extolled in a poem from the end of the 18th century, attributed to Prince Itsarasunthon of Siam, the later King Rama II (1767-1824). It is dedicated to a lady who is believed to be Princess Bunrot, the later Queen Sri Suriyendra, wife of King Rama II. The second stanza of the poem reads:[6][7]

มัสมั่นแกงแก้วตา หอมยี่หร่ารสร้อนแรง - Massaman, a curry made by my beloved, is fragrant of cumin and strong spices.

ชายใดได้กลืนแกง แรงอยากให้ใฝ่ฝันหา - Any man who has swallowed the curry is bound to long for her.

The first-ever recorded recipe for Massaman curry was "Chicken Massaman curry with bitter orange juice" spelled Matsaman (หมัดสมั่น) and written by Lady Plean Passakornrawong in 1889[8].


Due to its Muslim roots and therefore Islamic dietary laws, this curry is most commonly made with chicken, but there are also variations on this dish using duck, beef, mutton, goat, or, less commonly so, pork.[9][10] As pork is haram (forbidden) in Islam, this last variant is not eaten by observant Thai Muslims. Vegetarians and vegans have created their own versions of this dish.

The flavors of the massaman curry paste (nam phrik kaeng matsaman) come from spices that are not frequently used in other Thai curries. Cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, cumin, bay leaves, nutmeg and mace would, in the 17th century, have been brought to Thailand from the Malay Archipelago and South Asia by foreigners, a trade originally dominated by Muslim traders from the Middle East, Indian subcontinent and from the archipelago itself, but increasingly threatened by the Portuguese, the Dutch and French East India Company.[11] These are combined with local produce such as dried chili peppers,[12] cilantro (coriander) seeds, lemongrass, galangal, white pepper, shrimp paste, shallots and garlic to make the massaman curry paste. This paste is first fried with coconut cream, and only then are meat, potatoes, onions, fish sauce or salt, tamarind paste, sugar, coconut milk and peanuts added.[13][14] Massaman is usually eaten with rice, in a meal together with other dishes. There are also traditional versions using oranges, orange juice, or pineapple juice as additional ingredients.[15][16]

Media coverage

In 2011 CNNGo ranked Massaman curry as number one in an article titled World's 50 most delicious foods.[17] However, CNN's voter's survey later that year ranked it only 10th.[18]

See also


  1. David Thompson, Thai Food (edition 2010), Pavilion Books, pages 329, ISBN 978-1-86205-514-8
  2. The Magazine of Domestic Economy, Volume 5, p.63 (Google eBook), W.S. Orr & Company, 1840, accessed 2014-08-17: "A Mussulman Curry is made in the same way..."
  3. Sorties into Thai cultural history, Office of the National Culture Commission, Ministry of Education, 1982, accessed on Google Books 2014-08-17
  4. "What is Thai Cuisine? Thai Culinary Identity Construction From The Rise of the Bangkok Dynasty to Its Revival". Retrieved 2016-08-27.
  5. "Southern Thai Massaman Curry » Temple of Thai Food". Temple of Thai Food.
  6. The complete poem in (in Thai)
  7. The translation is partially based on the one in Leela Punyaratabandhu's article
  8. "Massaman Curry - The Untold Story (แกงมัสมั่น - แกงมาชะแมน - แกงหมัดสมั่น)". 2016-08-28. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
  9. "Thai Muslim Goat Curry (Wednesday Photo)". Thai Food and Travel Blog.
  10. "Thai Massaman Curry Recipe » Temple of Thai". Temple of Thai.
  11. p. 208-212
  12. Cummings, Joe (2000). World Food: Thailand. Melbourne, Australia: Lonely Planet. p. 79. Chili peppers from the Americas were introduced to the region by the Spanish and Portuguese during the 16th and 17th century
  13. "Massaman Curry Paste - Prig Gang Mussamun พริกแกงมัสมั่น". ThaiTable.
  14. Leela. "Massaman (Matsaman) Curry Recipe". SheSimmers.
  15. "Beef Massaman Curry Recipe". ThaiTable.
  16. David Thompson's Mussaman Curry of Duck
  17. CNNGo staff (21 July 2011). "World's 50 most delicious foods". CNNGo. Cable News Network. Archived from the original on 9 October 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  18. CNNGo staff (7 September 2011). "World's 50 most delicious foods". CNNGo. Cable News Network. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.