Thai Eggplant Massaman Curry


Not quite so popular as the Red,Green & Yellow Thai Curry, but a little milder & a lot more aromatic is the Unique Massaman Curry. The flavoring for Massaman curry is called Massaman Curry Paste (nam prik kaeng masaman), which contains very warm & aromatic spices like cinnamon, clove, cardamom, & nutmeg. These popular spices of the Indian Subcontinent combined with the Asian flavors of Lemon grass, Galangal, Kaffir lime leaves, & Fish Sauce, makes it a rich & brimming part of the Thai cuisine.

I did not dare to cook Thai at home for so long,  for I am not very comfortable with the strong smell of the fish sauce & shrimp paste. This Massaman curry paste,  however inspired me to give it a try.  I read thru’ & I realized that I could easily leave out the fish sauce & still have a very authentic & flavorful touch of authentic Thai. Right when I was planning on this, I found some Thai Eggplants & used these for the Massaman Curry. (Any kind of eggplant can be used for this.)

Massaman curry Or the Thai Muslim Curry  is a Thai dish that is Muslim in origin. ( The word “massaman” is thought to be have been derived from “musulman” which is an old word for “muslim” ).  Muslim, and later Portuguese, traders brought spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, cumin, cloves and nutmeg from Middle East and India to the southern coast of Thailand, and these new spices got infused with the original Asian spices to give birth to this so rich Curry Paste.  It is most commonly made with beef/chicken & potatoes, but can also be made with  Eggplant, Cauliflower & Tofu to name a few in the vegetarian world.

Thai Eggplant or Kermit Eggplant: The Thai eggplant, also known as Kermit eggplant, is a variety of eggplant used primarily in Thai cuisine and Laotian cuisine. The most common eggplants in Thai cooking are the round white or green ones about the size of a golf ball.


Ingredients: (Serves about 5-6)

  1. 6 Small Thai Eggplant/Brinjal, Slit into four with the base near the stem intact
  2. 2 Large Potatoes, peeled & cubed
  3. 1/2 Onion Sliced
  4. 1/2  Cup Coconut Cream ( the top part of the can)
  5. 3/4 Cup Coconut Milk
  6. Massaman Curry paste (Recipe Below)
  7. 4 Tablespoons of Oil
  8. 1 Teaspoon Tamarind Paste (Optional, if you want a sour tinge)
  9. 1/4 Cup Roasted Peanuts ( I did not use it here)
  10. 1 Tablespoon chopped Scallions for Garnish

For the Paste: (adapted from About: Thai)

  1. 3 shallots, sliced
  2. 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  3. 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger), peeled and sliced
  4. 1 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves and bulb removed, then sliced thinly (I used Frozen )
  5. 3 kaffir lime leaves (I used Frozen)
  6. 7-8 red chillies (more or less to taste.. i made mine really spicy)
  7. 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds,
  8. 1 Tbsp. cumin seeds, ground
  9. 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, preferably ground from whole nutmeg
  10. 1″  Cinnamon Stick
  11. 3 Small cloves
  12. 2 Small Cardamom
  13. 1 teaspoon Tamarind Paste
  14. 1 Teaspoon Soy Sauce Lite
  15. 1/2 can coconut milk
  16. 2 Tablespoon Sesame Oil ( Or any other oil)


Preparing the paste:

Add the whole spices (From nos.  6 -12) to a dry frying pan and toast for about 3 minutes, or until aromatic. grind it to a fine powder in a coffee grinder. Transfer to a food processor, add all the other ingredients and blend until smooth. The paste  stores in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or can be frozen until needed.

Eggplant/Brinjal Curry Preparation:

Soak the Slit Eggplants in salt water for about 1/2 hour. Squeeze out the water & set the eggplants aside.

Coat the pan with oil & turn on to medium high. Saute the Potatoes till the sides start to slightly brown. Remove & set aside.

Again Coat the pan with oil. Saute the eggplants for a few minutes. Remove & set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil.  Fry the sliced onions till transparent.

Add about 1/2 Cup of the Massaman Curry paste & fry till fragrant about 5-8 minutes at medium heat.  Keep stirring so it doesn’t burn.

Add potatoes & the eggplant. Toss them around for the paste & the spices to coat, & fry for about a couple of minutes.

Add the coconut cream.

Simmer until the oil separates, about 4-6 minutes. You’ll see reddish oil starting to float to the top.

Add the  peanuts and the coconut milk. Cover & simmer while ocassionally stirring  for some  more minutes ( about 15 minutes) or till the potatoes & the eggplants are done.  The mixture will slightly brown & a lot of oil will cone to the top.

If it gets too dry, add some water. Add the tamarind juice at the end.

Serve warm with rice or roti. Garnish with chopped scallions.

This dish is usually served with  Ajaat (slightly pickled cucumber salad) on the side.


I could not but be happy with the outcome. Definitely a must do again. I will try this with other vegetables, like cauliflower which would really absorb these flavors well, & of course with Tofu. Sending this to It’s a Vegan World : Thai, hosted by Priya of Akshayapaatram, the Vegan World Event being started by Vaishali of Holy Cow!

Related Posts:

Eggplant with Poblano Peppers
Toasted Sesame & Shrimp Fried Rice
Spicy Singapore Fried Rice

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40 comments to Thai Eggplant Massaman Curry

  • Wow mouthwatering as you said I have never heard about this dish (or probably I havent noticed this dish) but when you said aromatic I kinda started preparing myself for more and yup there is more and just vibrant… Slurrp!!!

  • Oh wow looks vibrant, flavourful and yum.

  • Lovely looking gravy, love Thai curries! 🙂

  • My first encounter with Thai food was a disaster … which I now attribute to those strong smelling sauces ( strange for a fish eating Bengali) 🙂
    Now I like all the veggie Thai stuff. 🙂 Chobi gulo dekhe khide pacche Soma. 🙂

  • Sounds like a lovely curry–and a nice change from the more common thai colors! 😉

  • Looks so delicious. Love Thai curries.

  • sandeepa

    I love Thai. I use store bought pastes but always leave out nam pla.

    Tell me that frozen lemongrass, does it have the flavor. I bought a frozen pack and it tasted like sawdust with no flavor at all. What was I doing wrong ?

    The masamana curry looks heavenly, never tried these brinjals

    Sandeepa, I don’t think you were doing anything wrong. I did not get any distinct smell of lemongrass either, like you had to kinda get unreasoanbly close & sniff;-) ( i did hear that they have very strong flavors)… But since I had never used the fresh, i did not know how it should be. Now since it is 2 of us here, I think the frozen ones are not good:-(… no more frozen ones for me.

  • Ann

    Hmmm..thats something new to give a try..looks real yummy..soma,i may leap..haha

  • roy

    That is a lovely looking curry! Add some smelly shrimp paste and you are ready to start a Thai restaurant.
    I tried making this curry last yr (didn’t quite get the nice reddish color you get!)- I let the paste sit overnight in the fridge- makes the flavors come together v well-muah it was good! But wasn’t it was a lot of work? or was that just me……(could be I am laaaaaziiii…)

    It did take quite some time to make:-) .. esp. if making the paste at home. Well the red color.. I think I had added way too many red chillies.. they were not from the Indian store, so they were not that spicy, but did impart the color. Letting it sit in the fridge is a good idea!! Thanks!

  • I haven’t had this curry before and I love all the spices here – sounds excellent!

  • A&N

    This is an awesome weeknight meal for us. We’ve never tried these eggplants before. Mebbe the next time I raid the Farmer’s Market.

  • Cham

    Actually I like the fish sauce and contrary my husb cannot stand for the smell! So Thai is only for me, the gravy is very different and tasty with the spices.

  • mohana

    I loveeeee THAI !!!! Thanks a lot for this recipie..this is a MUST try for me !!

  • Looks delicious. I tried and liked store-bought massaman curry paste, very similar to Indian masala. Pics look gorgeous.

  • I had never been a Thai lover.Yesterday we had Thai lunch n I saw this name …But I bet they wont be as good-looking as this one..Loveeed the 1st pic..With egg plants ,I bet this is yum..Oh..Why cant you shift to Seattle?texas is a boring place rite..;)

  • Soma, I love brinjal and does not need any coaxing and this dish makes my mouth water. I love those green egg plants, they are a delight.

    I saw(read) you and Sandeepa discussing lemon grass. It has a sweet mild lemon smell and when added to the dish gives it a delicate flavor. When you crush it between your fingers you can’t miss the smell. I bet the frozen one does not come close.

  • Soma, curry looks awsome. Green eggplants are so cute.I have been planning for green eggplants from thai store, for a long time now that almost a yr has passed from the first time the thought of green eggplant even occurred to me!! 🙁

  • Uma

    Ooh, the curry looks so yummy and tempting Soma! Gorgeous pics. 🙂

  • wonder where you get these unique recipes from!! your dishes are always special.

  • Havent heard abt this dish. Sounds yummy!

  • your description of massaman makes me want to make it soon

  • Lovely looking curry.:D


  • I sometimes pick up these cute green Thai eggplants at my Asian grocery store, but I don’t think I’ve ever cooked anything so flavorful with it. I am a huge eggplant fan– thanks for a delicious recipe, Soma.

  • Hi Soma,
    Thanks so ……much for the warm wishes at my blog:) hope u had a great feat too!
    I tried out ur yogurt mousse…with some very slight changes…my bongie was very happy after tasting this one 😉 glad to have tried it…I’ll soon post the pictures in my next post ‘Tried and tasted’ which am putting together…

    Hmm…the Massam curry looks fab! u’ve given a nice insight into the curry part, thanks for the read! I was seeing stars in day time looking at the procedure…which goes into making this heavenly dish…lol wouldn’t mind coming over to ur place for eating it 😉 lovely snaps…great dish!
    Have a lovely weekend!

  • I love Thai food.This curry is a delicious one..

  • Beautiful! have great lens!

  • The eggplant curry looks very good. Have to try this one although egg plant is not really a favorite but this looks absolutely tempting. Loved ur yogurt mousse with the rose petals

  • Totally new dish to me even tough I love Thai cuisine (only next to Italian and Mexican). But the presentation just blew me off (as always :-). Love your pictures.

  • soma

    Thanks guys! .. For all the thai lovers.. you will definitely like this, & for those who are a bit like me.. a little apprehensive of Thai, this is a good start… no fish sauce in it!:-D

  • Looks absolutely delicious – especially the spices you have used….I just posted my favourite red curry!!

  • A wonderful, very falvourful vegetarian meal. Eggplants are a great sub for meat.

  • I have been cooking Thai food all week but using prepared curry pastes, I have not tried to make my own yet… This sounds fairly easy, lots of ingredients but not too hard… I might even give this a try tonight 🙂

  • […] often star in Indian and Thai curries. Ecurry’s Thai Eggplant Massaman Curry is made with green zebra striped Thai eggplant and aromatic massaman curry paste. Home Cook’s […]

  • I can already imagine having this on a rainy evening!! I’m thinking up an alternative since I do not have a coffee grinder….

  • sweety

    Looks good,yummmmm yummm. Sure i will try to make it……….

  • sir_ken_g

    I did this yesterday.
    Used Masman curry paste so was very easy.
    Also put in chicken thighs.
    These eggplant taste like larger eggplants to me. You could substitute.

  • Hi, I enjoy your blog. Is there some thing I can do to receive updates like a subscription or some thing? I’m sorry I’m not familiar with RSS?

  • this looks absolutely excellent!
    i must give it a try. I am in LOVE with massaman curry, but I am a vegetarian and I hate really spicy things.
    I will have to change a few things for myself 🙂 Thank you!

  • Lona Lawrance

    I love eggplants and this curry is fantastic. Made this twice now – delicious each time, and a good, fast dinner option. If I was to add chicken or beef what would you recommend I change about it?

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