Panang Curry VS Massaman Curry: All You Need To Know

Massaman curry and Panang curry both hold an important spot in Thai cuisine. Both of these are about as well-known as other key Thai curries like red curry, green curry, and yellow curry. Now let’s see where the other two curries are and how Panang curry vs massaman curry differ.

Let’s get a closer look at these delicious curries.

Panang Curry vs Massaman Curry – The Showdown

Important And Notable Points For Massaman And Panang Curry

Here are some key elements that differentiate massaman and Panang curry.

  • Color: Panang curry has a red color evocative of Thai red curry. Massaman has a mild, yellow color.
  • Red And Yellow Curry: While Panang curry is very similar to Thai red curry, massaman has more in common with the yellow curry paste.
  • Taste: Panang is usually sweet and thanks to the presence of peanuts and coconut. It does use red chilies but there is more of a sweet taste. While massaman curry uses chilies, the heat is fairly mild. The spices are used more for the tangy taste and aroma.
  • Included Ingredients: Massaman curry cannot include pork, though Panang has no such restrictions.
  • Texture: Panang curry has a thicker texture than massaman.
  • Unique Additions: Peanuts and coconut cream can go into the Panang curry recipe. These ingredients are usually absent from massaman curry.

What Is Panang Curry? An Exploration Of Flavors

Panang Curry VS Massaman Curry

Panang curry is another popular Thai curry with a rather impressive taste and texture. Some believe that the curry came to Thailand from Laos, while others see it as a purely Thai invention. Whatever the case, there is at least some influence from Laos on this curry. 

This curry is often seen as a variant of the Thai red curry. This is evidently because of the red color of this curry. Red chili peppers find generous use in the making of Panang curry, though it doesn’t go towards a very hot flavor. 

So, the red curry is usually hotter than Panang curry, although Panang is sweeter.

Several ingredients find their way to Panang curry. These include shallots, lemongrass, kaffir lime rind, galangal, shrimp paste, and more.

Often, Panang also contains roasted and ground peanuts. Some cooks choose to add unsweetened peanut butter to the recipe. In several recipes, coconut cream too finds its way to Panang curry. 

The presence of peanuts in the paste is unusual for Thai curries and is a key element that separates Panang curry from red curry. Although, not all recipes or variants of Panang use peanuts.

Panang curry is usually prepared with fish sauce and might include peanuts and coconut cream. All of this gives it a thicker texture. Panang curry is the thickest of Thai curries. It’s spicy and fairly hot, though not as hot as red curry.

What Is Massaman Curry? Thai Recipe With Some Culinary Fusion

Massaman Curry

Massaman curry is a famous Thai curry, with multicultural roots. This curry is heavily influenced by Indian and Malay cuisine and you’ll find several flavors and spices from these cuisines in Massaman curry.

Several spices find their way into this curry, including coriander, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, shallots, galangal, lemongrass, dried red chilies, cumin, and more. 

As you may have noticed, many of these spices are atypical for Thai cuisine. This is also where the fusion aspect of the curry with different cuisines comes in. The spices used can change depending on the preference of the cook or even between different regions of Thailand. 

Massaman curry recipe comes from Southern Thailand and continues to be immensely popular there. This area is also where a huge portion of Thailand’s Muslim population lives. As such, there is some Islamic influence on Massaman curry. This curry does not contain pork since eating it is against Islamic belief. 

For the meat, massaman curry usually includes beef or lamb/mutton. Vegetarian options are also available, though they’re not as common. 

As for taste and texture, massaman curry is very thick and mild. It’s very aromatic and has a tangy taste, which is largely due to the presence of tamarind. And while it has a lot of spices, those are intended for flavor and aroma, rather than heat. Their addition contributes immensely to the flavor and aroma of this recipe.

In a way, Massaman curry is a variant of the conventional Thai yellow curry. It is the mildest of Thai curries and is more towards the tangier side than hot. However, it would be wrong to assume that this curry has no heat at all. It does use red chili peppers for its recipe, though the heat stays on the milder side of things.

Related Questions

What Does Panang Curry Taste Like?

The presence of roasted and ground peanuts has a remarkable effect on the taste of Panang curry. The presence of coconut cream has an effect on the sweetness too, and contributes to the sweetness and thickness of Panang curry. Even with this, don’t forget that the recipe has a fair bit of hotness. There are red chili peppers in this paste.

How Spicy Is Massaman Curry?

Massaman curry is usually the mildest of Thai curries. The spices in this curry add a wonderful warmth to the curry with slightly sweet undertones. There are some red chili peppers in this curry, but the spicy hotness remains manageable and mild.

Is Panang The Same As Yellow Curry?

Panang is not a yellow curry. If anything, it is more related to Thai red curry in color and even with some relations to taste. Many Panang curry recipes start with red curry paste as a base, so these curries have a clear relationship and a similarity in color and flavor.

The Bottom Line

As we see with this Panang curry vs massaman curry discussion, both these popular Thai curries have a fair bit of differences. They have a very different flavor, color, texture, and profiles. But they do have a notable similarity in that they’re both amazingly delicious.

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