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Massaman gai (Thai yellow chicken curry)

05 April 2018

Massaman is a mild Thai curry with flavours of coconut milk, lemongrass, cloves and cinnamon. It is most commonly served with chicken as yellow chicken curry (massaman gai). Sanguan Parr, head chef at Nipa Thai, shares her recipe.

Yellow chicken curry at Nipa Thai
Yellow chicken curry at Nipa Thai

Preparation time

25 minutes




  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 600ml coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • 5 small onions, sliced
  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 3 tbsp massaman curry paste
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 3 tbsp palm sugar
  • 3 tbsp tamarind juice
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 piece roasted cinnamon, 1cm long
  • 5 roasted cardamom pods
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


Massaman gai (yellow chicken curry) is a popular recipe from the southern region of Thailand. It’s the perfect meal for Songkran, the Thai New Year festival that takes place over three days from April 13. During Songkran Thailand is filled with celebrations, festivities, plenty of food – and a countrywide water fight!

This yellow chicken curry recipe comes from Sanguan Parr, head chef at Nipa Thai restaurant in London.

Cut the chicken into chunks, around 2 inches in length.

In a wok, heat the vegetable oil, curry paste and 200ml of coconut milk. Keep stirring over a low heat until fragrant.

Add the chicken to the wok, turning frequently so all the meat is covered in sauce.

Pour in the remaining 400ml of coconut milk and simmer gently for 5 minutes.

Add the cubed potatoes, roasted peanuts, onions, fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind juice, bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon. Keep over a low heat to simmer until all the ingredients are tender.

Remove from the heat and serve with steamed white rice.

Throughout Songkran 2018, Nipa Thai will be offering its traditional menu. Nipa Thai is open from 5pm-10.30pm, Monday-Sunday.

Find out about the many different festivals of Thailand throughout the year

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.