Massaman Curry with Pumpkin and Chickpeas

Massaman curry is a sweet and nutty curry, that originated in Thailand during the late 17th century. There are many theories on where in Thailand this dish originated - central Thailand in the cosmopolitan court of Ayutthaya versus the South of Thailand where you find influences from Malay and Indian cuisine, but no one can be exact. It's an interesting and unique curry in that it uses spices not typically found in Thai cuisine - cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, and nutmeg. The first time I tried a massaman curry was in Northern Malaysia. I remember being surprised by the use of Indian flavors in Malaysian cuisine but later realized how heavily influential they were in the region. Of course, one of the first things I did when returning home was recreated the dish myself.

If you've taken a peek at the recipe below and are thinking - seriously, all those ingredients? Rest assured, you can easily use a jar of premade massaman curry paste from the grocery store and no one will judge. If you are feeling adventurous, though, I swear, the paste is super simple. The recipe just calls for a lot of things. Things you probably have tucked away in the back of your spice cabinet.

Massaman curry paste is a mixture of different spices, lemongrass, peanuts, onions, and garlic - to name a few. Most of the ingredients are pretty common and easy to find, with the exception of lemongrass. If you can't find it, I think you could probably just leave it out and the recipe would still be delicious. I've seen Massaman curry made with a variety of meats and vegetables, but for this dish, I choose to make it vegetarian using - chickpeas, red pepper, carrots, potatoes, and pumpkin - because it's the season for pumpkin. Pumpkin curries are a favorite of mine. Big beefy pieces of pumpkin always give a vegetarian curry such a substantial feeling. Oh, and did I mention how amazing pumpkin and coconut (which is the base of this dish) go together? For those of you who aren't into foods that are heavily spiced, this curry has almost no heat if you leave out the hot sauce. It's more earthy, nutty, and sweet. It's one of my favorite curries.

This post is a part of the 2016 Virtual Pumpkin Party. I'd like to give a big thanks to Sara and Aimee for being the rock stars they are and organizing this event. To check out what other bloggers have made you can search the hashtag #virtualpumpkinparty on Instagram or visit this or this link for the full list.

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serves 4 

prep time: 30 minutes

cooking time: 40 minutes

curry paste

1/4 cup peanuts

5 cloves garlic

1 tsp chili flakes

1 tsp fresh ginger, diced

1 stalk lemongrass, diced

1/2 tbsp cumin

1 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/8 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp cardamon

1 tsp turmeric

2 tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup of chopped onion

2 tbsp olive oil


2 tbsp canola oil

1 can chickpeas, drained

1/2 red pepper, chopped

1 carrot, sliced

1 white potato, peeled and chopped

1/2 small pumpkin, peeled and chopped

1 can of coconut milk


hot sauce

4 servings of cooked rice


Thai basil

chopped peanuts

lime wedges

In a food processor, combine all of the curry paste ingredients until you get a smooth paste - 5 minutes, scraping down the sides often. If the ingredients start to stick to the side of the processor, add a little more oil to get them spinning.

In a large frying pan or wok, add 2 tbsp of canola oil. Fry the chickpeas for a few minutes until they start to brown. Add the red pepper, carrot, potato, and pumpkin. Fry until the pumpkin starts to soften - 20 minutes.

While the veggies are frying you can cook the rice.

Add the curry paste to the vegetables and fry for a minute or two. Add the coconut milk and combine. Simmer the curry on low heat for 15 - 20 minutes until the veggies are completely soft. Taste and season with extra salt and/or hot sauce if needed.

Serve warm with rice or naan bread. Garnish with Thai basil, chopped peanuts, and/or lime juice.