Chicken Massaman curry with butternut pearl barley

Chicken Massaman curry

Every now and then I come across a dish that just inspires me. The other week  had a beef massaman curry and it was just wonderful. As I walked out of the Smoking Goat I knew that I would have to try and make this curry, I live too far away to go often enough.


Beef short rib massaman curry from the Smoking Goat.

Barbecue Aged Beef Shortrib with massaman & pickles at the Smoking Goat



I did some research and it seems that there are as many versions as there are cooks so this is my version. There were a few things I didn’t have so I replaced them with what I had available so this is my version.


I had some chicken at home and used this instead of beef.


Chicken Massaman Curry 

preparation time 15 minutes 

cooking time 6+ hours for brining and 30-40 minutes for cooking 

serves 4


The chicken

  • 1 chicken breast/pp
  • 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 dl or 1/4 cup salt, just about
  • 6 slices of ginger
  • 1 bayleaf
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 5 dl or 2 1/2 cups of water

For the curry

  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tbsp sumac
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 grated nutmeg
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 whole dried lime
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon or 1 stick
  • 5 green cardamon pods
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 5 cloves
  • 2 red chillies, sliced with the seeds in
  • 2 lemongrass stalks
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • a large piece of ginger
  • lime juice
  • fish sauce to taste, start with 2 tbsp
  • 400 ml or 2 cups of coconut milk
  • 2 dl or 1 cup of chicken stock
  • some coconut oil
  • 2 dl or 1 cup of coriander stalks
  • 1 tomato, chopped fine
  • 1 onion, sliced thinly
  • raw, roasted peanuts and coriander for garnish

Start with making the brine. Heat water enough to dissolve the salt and sugar. Add the aromatics, in this case the ginger, peppercorns and bay leaf. Let it cool and add the breast of chicken. Cover and leave in the fridge over night if you can but for a minimum of 4 hours.


Crack the dried lime, there is an amazing aroma when you break it.

Whole, dried lime

whole dried lime


Place it in a dry frying pan with the cumin seeds, the cloves, the star anise, cinnamon (if using a stick) and the cardamon, removed from the pods and dry roast, just for a couple of minutes or until you can smell the spices.


dry roasting spices


Place in a spice grinder and grind until you have a powder. Add the ground coriander, sumac and cinnamon.


Peel the ginger and cut it in half. I love ginger so I used a large piece. Cut one half julienne, match stick sized pieces, and grate the other half with the garlic and the fine of the lemon grass stalks.

Mix in the grated ginger, lemon grass and garlic with the spices and add the shrimp paste and brown sugar.

Heat some coconut oil in a pan and stir in the spice mix. Cook for a few minutes until it is fragrant. Add the coconut milk, chicken stock, coriander stalks, chilli, chopped ginger and the tomato. bring to a boil and let simmer for 20 minutes. Taste with fish sauce.


Rinse the chicken breast and pat it dry. if you want to make a quick curry slice the chicken breast and cook it in the curry. I pan fried my chicken breasts and poured the curry on top, garnishing with the peanuts and coriander.


Chicken Massaman curry


Usually a curry is served with rice but I decided to make pearl barley to go with it instead. I roasted some butternut squash and mixed in as well. Pearl barley is an old grain and I like the flavour and the texture and it worked well with the curry.


I am bringing a batch of this to Angie’s Fiesta Friday. Come and join us for the most inspiring foodie party! This week she has two lovely co hosts Antonia, Zoale and Sandhya, Indfused. Sandhya creates amazing flavours and please come and join us and discover so much in the wonderful world of food!














17 Responses to “Chicken Massaman curry with butternut pearl barley”
  1. thestaticfoodbin says:

    Beautiful dish as always, Petra! Happy Friday!

  2. chefjulianna says:

    Too amazing! We are totally on the same wavelength, Petra! I just made a mussamam curry the other day and am looking forward to posting it! The only thing is, I bought the curry paste! It was so gorgeous! However, I have been thinking about making my own mussamam paste, and voila, I go to FF, and there you have posted one for me! I am going to make your recipe for sure!
    I am still chuckling that you have posted this! 😀

    • petra08 says:

      hi Julianna
      How funny! It is that time of the year when it is getting that little bit colder, perfect for stews and curries.
      I have to admit this was my third curry, I wasn’t happy with the first two batches, the balance wasn’t quite there so finally! Next time I will follow your example and buy the paste! 🙂 I served the curry with pickled cucumber as well to cut through and highlight the flavours.
      Have a great weekend, you really make me smile! 🙂

  3. Sandhya says:

    I love massaman curry and I am so glad you shared your recipe made from scratch with us all at Fiesta Friday. It has been raining here for the whole week and your curry seems just perfect for this rainy fall.
    Also pairing it with butternut squash and pearl barley is pure genius!

    • petra08 says:

      hi Sandhya
      It is pouring down here as well and I can’t stop thinking about stews and curries! I am so glad you like it.
      Thank you for co hosting Fiesta Friday and I hope you have a lovely weekend 🙂

  4. tentimestea says:

    What a perfect warm fall dish Petra! The dried lime sounds like such an intriguing ingredient. I love the warm sweet spices that take the stage in massaman curry, and your recipe is very eye-opening with all the spices and flavours that go into the curry. It sounds like quite the symphony 🙂

    • petra08 says:

      Thank you. There is a lot of spices and I did make a few runs before I got the balance right, The dried limes are delicious and very fragrant. I read that you can crack them in your hand but no matter how I tried I had to get the rolling pin out to finally crack it open! 🙂 You can use it whole in a stew as well and the flavour will be milder. I hope you find some to try, it is a gem! 🙂

  5. This sounds amazing Petra! I love all of the spices in this and that you added squash too.

  6. Sumith Babu says:

    Another pin for me. This is new to me. Sounds so delicious and will give this a try. Thanks for this share Petra.

    • petra08 says:

      hi Sumith
      I have to admit this was my third try before I felt I got the balance between the spices right and finally! Voila, it all came together! I hope you make it, the spices are delicious together and I did a version with tofu as well and that was good as well.

      • Sumith Babu says:

        You are very creative. An absolute juggle of flavours. Love your presentations as well.

        • petra08 says:

          hi Sumith
          Thank you for your lovely comments and encouraging words! 🙂

          • Sumith Babu says:

            I am blessed and delighted to meet people like you and to learn more in cooking. This is an amazing platform. I could speak to you in cooking all long day😄😃you are very knowledgeable and inspirational.

            • petra08 says:

              hi Sumith
              As are you with your lovely flavours and beautiful foods!
              You are right, food is an endless source of conversation, how can it ever get boring?! 🙂 I am so glad you came to my blog and am looking forward to reading more blogs from you and “chat” more!

  7. chefkreso says:

    Delicious looking as your other recipes, keep up the good work, great recipes 😀

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