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Crispy pan-fried tofu, veggies and tender sweet potato chunks are simmered in a peanutty Thai-spiced coconut curry sauce to create this flavorful vegan massaman curry.

Massaman curry is, without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite meals on this planet.

I remember falling in love with Thai food during my early twenties. First I discovered pad Thai. Good. Then Curry, starting with red. Better. Then green. Even better. Then, finally…where have you been all my life?! Massaman curry! Of course, this happened when I wasn’t quite as wise as I am now.

You need to be careful with curries. I discovered this when, after a few months or maybe even years or regularly ordering massaman or occasionally some other curry off of the vegetarian section of some Thai restaurant menu, I scanned some of the other menu items and descriptions and noticed references to stuff like “fish sauce” or “shrimp paste.” That was a big uh-oh moment.

Nowadays, I’m always super careful. I always inquire as to not only “is this item vegetarian?” but more specifically, “are there any meat, fish or other seafood ingredients, like fish sauce or shrimp paste in here?” Not everyone defines “vegetarian” in the same way, so you gotta look out for yourself.

I met with a similar challenge when I decided to start creating my own Thai dishes. A Thai curry can be a super quick meal if you use a pre-prepared curry paste, and such pre-prepared curry pastes are readily available in the Asian sections of most supermarkets. Even better ones can be found in Asian markets.

Most of these curry pastes, however, contain some kind of fishy ingredient. You can get around this in one of two ways: (1) Make your own curry paste. Lucky for you, I’ve provided a recipe below for just that. Or (2) do some research and find a vegetarian curry paste. Also lucky for you, I’ve already gone ahead and done that. Maesri is my favorite vegetarian store-bought curry pastes. It’s tasty (though not as tasty as homemade) and totally vegan. Keep a couple of cans on hand and you’ve got a head start on a quick and delicious curry any night of the week. If you opt, instead, to make your own, keep in mind that you can freeze it. Make a big old batch, stick it in the freezer and most of your work is done. Once again, you’re just thirty minutes away from a weeknight curry.

You can use all kinds of vegetable combos in your vegan massaman curry. The green beans and red peppers in my version are fairly traditional, but you’d normally find white potato in place of the sweet potato if you got this in a restaurant. Serve this alongside some jasmine rice, and experiment with different veggies. There’s all kinds of ways to make this meal delicious.

With all of that in mind, I should warn you that the ingredients list for the homemade variety of massaman curry paste is quite long. I keep a pretty well stocked pantry these days, so I only had to go out and buy a few of the fresh ingredients. Once I had all the ingredients on hand, making the paste was a breeze, because all it involves is throwing everything into a food processor. I also made life a little easier by using ground spices, whereas most truly authentic recipes would use whole cloves, cardamom pods, etc. If you prefer the whole versions and can do the conversions, go right ahead and make it that way. In either event, if you have a substantial spice collection and a food processor in your kitchen, I totally encourage you to make your own paste. It’s the tastiest way to go, probably the cheapest as well, and you know exactly what is going into your food.

This post originally published on Connoisseurus Veg on October 7, 2013.

 4.63 from 16 votes Print

Thai Massaman Curry with Sweet Potatoes and TofuMassaman Curry Paste

Crispy pan-fried tofu, veggies and tender sweet potato chunks are simmered in a peanutty Thai-spiced coconut curry sauce to create this flavorful vegan massaman curry. CourseEntree CuisineAmerican, Thai Prep Time 10 minutes Cook Time 20 minutes Total Time 30 minutes Servings 6 Calories 485 kcal Author Alissa


For the Massaman Curry Paste

  • ½cuproasted peanuts
  • 1tbsp.ground coriander
  • 1tsp.cumin
  • ½tsp.ground cinnamon
  • ¼tsp.ground cloves
  • tsp.ground pepper
  • tsp.ground nutmeg
  • tsp.ground cardamom
  • 1tsp.ground turmeric
  • 5-15dried red chili peppers*soaked in water for about 10 minutes and seeded (use gloves!)
  • 1stalk of lemongrass,minced
  • 1three inch piece of fresh ginger root,sliced
  • 4garlic cloves
  • 1shallot
  • 1 ½tsp.lime rind
  • ¼cupsoy sauce
  • ¼cupmaple syrup
  • juice of 2 limes

For the Massaman Curry

  • 2(14 ounce) canscoconut milk
  • ¼cuphomemade massaman curry paste,recipe above or 1 can of store bought
  • 1sweet potato,diced into ½” to 1″ cubes
  • 2cupsfresh green beans,chopped to 1″ to 2″ pieces
  • 1red bell pepper,diced
  • 1lbextra firm tofu
  • about 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • about 4 scallions,sliced
  • ¼cuproasted peanuts,chopped


To Make the Massaman Curry Paste

  1. Place all ingredients in food processor bowl and process until a paste is formed, scraping bowl as needed.

To Make the Massaman Curry

  1. Drain and press tofu.
  2. Mix coconut milk and curry paste in large saucepan. Heat to a simmer, stirring frequently.
  3. Add sweet potato, and allow to simmer about ten minutes.
  4. Add green beans and simmer about another four minutes, and then add pepper and simmer another two minutes. Your broth should be thick and creamy by now and your veggies tender.
  5. Taste test, and add a bit more curry paste if you’d like some extra umph.
  6. While your veggies simmer, cut your tofu into bite sized pieces. Heat oil over medium skillet, and pan fry tofu pieces on each side until slightly browned.
  7. Add tofu to curry mixture. Ladle onto plates or bowls and top with scallions and peanuts. Serve with rice.

Recipe Notes

Base the number of chili peppers on your personal heat preference. If you’re not sure how many to use, go with less. You can always add some extra peppers or chili paste to the curry during cooking.

Nutrition FactsThai Massaman Curry with Sweet Potatoes and TofuMassaman Curry PasteAmount Per ServingCalories 485Calories from Fat 379% Daily Value*Fat 42.1g65%Saturated Fat 31.1g156%Sodium 392mg16%Potassium 755mg22%Carbohydrates 21.4g7%Fiber 8.2g33%Sugar 8.7g10%Protein 12.8g26%Calcium 160mg16%Iron 5mg28%* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.« Loaded Avocado Vegan QuesadillasRed Lentil Corn Chowder »

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Freezing the paste in 1/4 cup portions is such a great idea!! Thank you! Guests marvel at how quickly a tasty curry comes together!


  • I made this tonight and it was excellent. My husband said it is addictive and ate way too much. No left overs for tomorrow. My paste came out a lot thinner than expected and I think that the next I will use less lime juice. Thank you for this great recipe. It is going to be one of our favorites.


    • The paste was alright. I used more than 1/4 paste, plus had to add in a bunch of salt in the pan of food despite the recipe already containing soy sauce. I still have a butt load of paste to use at least and it should last a while. Also, don’t know why, but my food came out some almost white beige color while the photo is all orange. I feel like I did something wrong now.


      • OMG. I only just poured this out of the food processor (haven’t even made a meal with it yet) and I’m already in love with it. I’m going bonkers to try it. The smell is amazing.

        I made the green curry too! Went very conservative on the peppers for both, as they are my fist curry attempts.


        • Excellent – my whole family loved this meal ! I followed your recipe exactly, right up to the end, then added the cut up pieces of one ripe avocado. Served with brown rice.


          • Hi, made this (or semblance of this) recipe last night. I didn’t have some of the ingredients, so I substituted dry peanuts for organic unsweetened peanut butter, I had no coriander so put onion grass instead, I skipped the maple syrup as I do not eat any form of sugar, only fruit, so I put dates instead and had no lime, so put lemon.
            It still ended up being delicious even without all the right ingredients. The sauce was thick enough (I added water) and also added an extra onion, peas (instead of green beans)and carrots to the mix. I think you can make this any way you like and adding whatever vegetables you have in season. I will definitely make again and I am sure it will taste different as it depends what you have. But I do always have ginger and curry, turmeric and soy sauce Just ran out of coconut milk, so will add that to my list!
            Oh, and I used fermented tofu, which is way better for you than regular un-fermented.
            I’m not a vegan nor a vegetarian, but loved this recipe! (and yes, I do try to reduce the amount of meat not just for the environment… )
            Thanks for sharing.


            • Massaman curry was one of my favorite tastes. So I decided to try to make it for my Mom and Grandma. It turned out tasting amazing.
              I, however, put all the curry paste into the coconut milk to have the full flavor. I’m makinnit again today just because I loved it. I’m going to add a little more garlic and, oh yeah, red chili peps this time(my Grams didn’t doesn’t do spicy).
              Thanks a lot, I look forward to trying more of your recipes!


            • About how much curry sauce does your homemade recipe make? I’m a big fan of making complicated sauces once and freezing for next time.




                • We love this curry dish. I made it and froze the leftovers in small containers so I can quickly thaw and make it again. Thank you!


                • Excellent! The curry paste takes a bit of time to make, but it freezes really well, so I made a double batch and froze it in ice cube trays. That way I can defrost the cubes whenever I want and make a quick curry without a lot of fuss.


                • Great curry recipe! I even added some chicken to bulk it up.


                • This recipe was spot-on! Absolutely delicious. Your recipes are always fantastic. Thank you for terrific dinner ideas!


                • Guys, Thanks For sharing this Great Recipe. My Family Loved it. I am definitely sharing this recipe and this website with my friend. Hope they also love it. Thank you again for sharing such a great recipe.


                • Just made this recipe tonight, and I’ve got to say, I’m so disappointed with how it came out! The sauce tasted overwhelmingly of lemon/lime. Perhaps I used too large of a stalk of lemongrass and my lines were larger than normal? The soup was also very bland with only a quarter cup of the curry. I ended up putting in closer to a full cup. Such a bummer. It also looks like a lot of the five star comments are from people who haven’t actually made the dish? I’ve been hunting for a good massaman curry recipe since I really miss eating Thai food, but I guess I’ll have to keep looking.


                  • Have made this already, a hit! Is it possible to make the paste ahead and refrigerate? If so how long will it keep in the refrigerator?


                    • Hi, I’m Alissa! I’m a former attorney turned professional food blogger. I love creating vegan recipes with bold flavors!

                      More about me →

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