Is Massaman Curry high calorie?

Quick Answer

Massaman curry can be high in calories depending on the ingredients used. Traditional Massaman curry contains coconut milk, which is high in fat and calories. Meat and potato additions also increase the calorie count. However, using lean cuts of meat, low-fat coconut milk, and increasing the proportion of vegetables can create a lower calorie version. Moderation is key when enjoying this rich, flavorful curry.

What is Massaman Curry?

Massaman curry is a rich, flavorful Thai curry dish that combines complex aromas and tastes. Some key features include:

  • Originates from southern Thailand, with influences from Middle Eastern cuisine
  • Contains spices like cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and bay leaves
  • Includes coconut milk for a rich, creamy base
  • Often contains protein like chicken, beef, lamb or tofu
  • Features potatoes and onions as primary vegetables
  • Can incorporate peanuts or cashews for added crunch
  • Has a mild, slightly sweet flavor compared to other Thai curries

The complex blend of spices and coconut milk create a curry that is rich, aromatic and full of deep, layered flavors. It provides a nice balance of creaminess, savoriness, and subtle sweetness.

Nutritional Profile of Traditional Massaman Curry

To determine if Massaman curry is high in calories, we need to look at its typical nutritional information per serving:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 529
Total Fat 36g
Saturated Fat 24g
Protein 17g
Carbohydrates 24g
Fiber 3g
Sugar 2g

*Based on a serving size of 1 cup of chicken Massaman curry made with full-fat coconut milk.

As you can see, a traditional Massaman curry made with fatty coconut milk is very high in calories and fat, especially saturated fat. A single 1 cup serving provides over 500 calories and 36g of fat – and most people consume more than 1 cup per meal.

The high calorie and fat content is mainly due to the large amount of coconut milk used to create the sauce. Coconut milk is high in fat and calories:

Nutrient Full Fat Coconut Milk (per 100g) Lite Coconut Milk (per 100g)
Calories 230 135
Total Fat 24g 12g
Saturated Fat 22g 10g

As you can see, full fat coconut milk contains a significant amount of fat and calories per serving. This can quickly add up when making a full pot of curry.

In addition to coconut milk, ingredients like meat, potatoes, peanuts and cashews contribute to the high calorie count in traditional Massaman curry.

Ways to Make Massaman Curry Lower in Calories

While traditional Massaman curry is high in calories, there are several ways to reduce the calorie content while still preserving the delicious flavors:

Use lite coconut milk

Swap out full fat coconut milk for lite coconut milk. Lite coconut milk contains about half the calories and fat as full fat varieties. This simple switch can shave off significant calories.

Increase the proportion of vegetables

Bulk up the curry with extra vegetables like carrots, bell peppers, green beans, zucchini or eggplant. This increases the volume, fills you up and reduces the proportion of high calorie ingredients.

Choose lean cuts of meat

When adding protein like chicken or beef, opt for leaner cuts with less fat. Some good options include chicken breast, 90/10 ground beef or sirloin steak. This reduces saturated fat and calories.

Use extra broth

adding more low sodium chicken or vegetable broth can add flavor without many extra calories. Use broth to thin out an overly thick curry.

Moderate creaminess

If the curry seems too thick, add small amounts of lite coconut milk instead of full fat varieties. Stop when desired consistency is reached.

Limit potato portions

Potatoes are high in carbs and calories. Limit to 1/2 cup per serving to reduce calorie density. Substitute cauliflower florets to lower carb content.

Use spices to boost flavor

To maintain delicious flavor while using less coconut milk and fat, amp up spices like curry powder, cumin, coriander and turmeric.

Skip the peanuts/cashews

These nut mix-ins add lots of extra fat and calories. Omit or use sparingly to lower calorie count.

Serve over spiralized veggies

Serve your curry over a spiralized veggie “rice” made from zucchini, beets or carrots to increase the vegetable ratio.

Nutrition Information for Low Calorie Massaman Curry

When following these tips to reduce calories, a serving of chicken Massaman curry would have:

Nutrient Amount
Calories 345
Total Fat 12g
Saturated Fat 4g
Protein 26g
Carbohydrates 26g
Fiber 4g
Sugar 3g

*Based on modifications like using lite coconut milk, lean chicken breast, increasing veggies and broth, and limiting creaminess.

As you can see, the calorie count drops significantly by making simple modifications while keeping all the Full authentic Thai flavors.

Benefits of Low Calorie Massaman Curry

Choosing a lower calorie Massaman curry has many benefits:

  • More diet friendly – easier to fit into meal plans for weight loss or maintenance
  • Less saturated fat for improved heart health
  • Higher protein and fiber for better satiety
  • Allows enjoying this flavorful curry more frequently
  • Keeps the rich, aromatic flavors without overloading on fat and calories
  • Makes it easier to savor this curry while managing portions
  • More customizable to your taste preferences

With some simple tweaks, you can still enjoy the complex flavors of Massaman curry as part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Tips for Making Your Own Low Calorie Massaman Curry

Want to make your own lower calorie Massaman curry at home? Here are some helpful tips:

Find a healthy recipe

Look for recipes specifically tailored for lower fat and calories. This gives you a template to work from.

Use lean proteins

Chicken breast, shrimp, or firm tofu make great additions over more fatty beef cuts.

Load up on veggies

Double up on vegetables like carrots, bell peppers and green beans for bulk and nutrients.

Use lite coconut milk

Substitute lite coconut milk straight across in your recipe to reduce fat and calories while maintaining texture.

Boost flavors with herbs and spices

extras like fresh basil, cilantro, lemongrass, lime zest, garlic, ginger, curry powder and chili paste.

Try cauliflower rice

Swap starchy white rice for riced cauliflower to make your Massaman curry lower carb.

Finish with crunch

Top with roasted unsalted peanuts or cashews instead of frying them in oil for crunch without the added fat.

Play with textures

Mix in some shredded carrots, diced bell pepper or sliced green onions for added texture.

Moderate creaminess

Add small amounts of lite coconut milk until desired richness is reached without overdoing it.

Adjust spices to taste

Cater the curry to your taste preferences with added spice, sweetness, tang or herb flavors as desired.

Healthy Massaman Curry Recipe

This recipe for Massaman curry delivers all the rich, complex flavor for under 400 calories per serving:


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp Massaman curry paste
  • 1 14oz can lite coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped


  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook 5 minutes until starting to brown.
  2. Add onion and cook 3 minutes until softened. Add garlic and Massaman curry paste. Cook 1 minute.
  3. Add coconut milk, chicken broth, sweet potato, bell pepper and green beans. Bring to a simmer.
  4. Simmer 15 minutes until vegetables are tender and sauce thickens slightly.
  5. Stir in fish sauce, brown sugar and lime juice. Remove from heat.
  6. Serve over cauliflower rice and top with fresh basil.

Nutrition for 1 serving (about 1 1/2 cups):

Calories 385
Fat 12g
Protein 40g
Carbs 29g
Fiber 5g

This lighter curry maximizes flavor using lite coconut milk, lean protein, extra veggies and herbs. Enjoy the richness without the excess calories!

Common Questions about Massaman Curry Calories

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the calorie content of Massaman curry:

Does it matter if I use regular or Thai basil?

No, regular and Thai basil have a similar flavor. Use whatever type you have on hand.

Can I make it vegetarian?

Absolutely. Substitute tofu, chickpeas or lentils for an excellent meatless option.

Is Massaman curry spicy?

It has a mild, subtly spicy flavor. Add chili paste or cayenne if you want to turn up the heat.

Should I use brown or white sugar?

Either works well, use your preference. Brown sugar adds a touch more molasses flavor.

Can I skip the fish sauce?

Yes, you can omit fish sauce if need be. The flavor won’t be as complex, so add extra lime juice.

How long does it last in the fridge?

Stored in an airtight container, it will keep 3-4 days. The flavors meld even more over time.

The Bottom Line

Traditional Massaman curry can be high in calories due to its coconut milk and protein ingredients. However, a few easy ingredient swaps like using lite coconut milk, increasing veggies, and choosing lean proteins can cut the calories significantly. This allows you to enjoy the richly layered flavors of Massaman curry even when managing your calorie intake. With a healthier recipe, you can indulge in this aromatic Thai curry more often.

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