Panang Curry Vs Massaman Curry: Which Should You Use?

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How Does Panang Curry Differ From Massaman Curry



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Without a doubt, all curries are pretty tasty. Well, not everyone would love all the varieties, but people that love eating a particular type of curry do so for a reason. But what’s the difference between panang curry vs massaman curry?

Thai’s red curry is regarded as the “hottest” while Penang is generally poised to be sweeter than red curries, and the massaman curry? That’s also a sweet curry you’d love to taste.

Penang (also Panang) curry looks similar to the infamous red curry and slightly different from the massaman curry.

However, both Panang and Massaman are all part of Thailand cuisine, with massaman originating from Southern Thailand, close to the country’s border with Malaysia.

What is Panang Curry?

Panang is a type of Thailand curry, usually richer and sweeter than other Thai curries. It is believed to have reached Thailand from Laos.

This curry is made with the Penang curry paste, which is a blend of coconut cream, peanuts, and other aromatic spices.

You’d notice that Panang curry is typically thicker than other types of Thai curries; this is because of the coconut cream used.

Notwithstanding, Panang curry looks so much like red curry because the paste is made with several dried red chilies.

Other ingredients that are used for making Penang curry paste include shallots, galangal, garlic, kaffir lime rind, lemongrass, coriander root, shrimp paste, salt, and white pepper.

Some westerners do add peanuts to Panang curry to improve the flavor and taste, but it is not traditional in Thailand to use peanuts in Penang curry. The oldest variety of Penang curry dates back to 1890.

What is Massaman Curry?

Mostly recognized as Islam-inspired curry, the Massaman curry, which is also part of Thai cuisine, is the least popular type of Thailand curry. However, it tastes “really” good and goes toe-to-toe with Penang curry in comparison.

The origin of Massaman curry confuses quite a lot of people. Some people believe that this curry is from Malaysia and not Thailand. However, the truth is, Massaman curry is from southern Thailand, very close to the border with Malaysia.

This curry is called an Islam-inspired curry because it is made with beef or lamb, instead of pork.

The paste is prepared with dried red chilies, white pepper, cloves, shallots, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, cumin, and other aromatic herbs.

Some cooks may include cinnamon, nutmeg, and white cardamom, which are uncommon ingredients for making a typical Thai curry. But generally, the Massaman curry is usually thick, milder than other Thai curries, accompanied by a sweet taste.

How Does Panang Curry Differ From Massaman Curry?

Panang Curry Vs Massaman Curry

The major difference between these two types of Thai curries is that Massaman curry cannot be made with pork, but you can use pork to prepare a Panang curry dish.

Also, sometimes, Massaman curry is made with nutmeg, which is an unusual ingredient for preparing Thai curries.

On the other hand, recipes for Panang curry can include peanuts and coconut cream, which makes the dish quite tastier and thicker than Massaman.

How Are They Similar?

Most of the base ingredients for making Penang curry paste are also what you would use to prepare Massaman curry paste. Also, both curies can be made with peanuts too.

The appearance of Massaman and Penang curry can look too similar depending on the number of red chilies used.

Panang Curry Vs Massaman Curry: Which is Better?

Generally, the actual taste of a meal depends on two people; the person who cooked the meal, and the person who ate the meal.

That said, the Penang curry might just be the best for some curry dish lovers, while some others would prefer Massaman.

However, mere looking at both curries, the Penang curry looks thicker and it’s also hotter than the Massaman curry. But, the Massaman curry is typically sweeter – tastes better – than Penang curry.

The two curries are good, healthy, sweet (with slightly different tastes), and can be used to substitute for each other. Yes, the Penang curry can come in as a Massaman curry substitute.

Where Can You Buy These Curries?

Although they are both parts of Thailand cuisine, you will find either (or both) of these curries in intercontinental restaurants in foreign cities.

You can also buy the ingredients, make the paste, and prepare your Panang or Massaman curry dish from scratch. Sometimes, curry dishes made with homemade pastes taste better.


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