This drool worthy duck curry is fresh from a recent shoot with photographer Guy Lavoipierre. Thai Massaman curry has the influence of Aryuvedic spices such as cloves, cardamom and cinnamon which results in a deeply rich and aromatic flavour.

The work is in the curry paste but this recipe makes a big batch (enough for 3-4 curries) and it freezes well. It is so satisfying to make your own curry paste, and it just can’t be compared to store bought, no matter the brand.


You'll Need

  • 4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 8 tsp coriander seeds
  • seeds from 5 cardamon
  • 6 cloves
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
  • 8 dried birds-eye chillies
  • 2 tsp Thai shrimp paste
  • 6 red birds-eye chillies, chopped
  • 20 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 small brown onions, chopped
  • 4 tsp fresh green peppercorns
  • 5 coriander roots
  • 50 ml rice bran or vegetable oil
  • rind/zest of 2 kaffir limes, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, bashed and chopped
  • 75g palm sugar, shaved
  • 80ml fish sauce
  • 60ml tamarind liquid (see note)

To assemble the curry 


  • 1 Chinese roasted duck, cut into 8 pieces (see notes)
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 1/4 cup rice bran or vegetable oil
  • 4 tbs curry massaman curry paste
  • 500 ml coconut milk
  • squeeze of lime
  • extra fish sauce and palm sugar to balance
  • coriander leaves, thai basil, vietnamese mint, fresh chilli, spring onions and deep fried shallots to garnish


To make tamarind liquid, buy the pulp from your Asian grocer and place it in a small saucepan (4 parts water to 1 part tamarind), bring it to the boil and simmer until broken down (about 20 mins), strain through a sieve.


I roasted my own duck but it’s much easier to buy a duck roasted and chopped from a Chinese restaurant. If you’re in Melbourne, I get mine from Minh Tan 2 in Victoria Street.


Dry-roast cumin coriander and cardamom seeds with cloves, cinnamon sticks and dried chillies in a small frypan on a gentle heat until fragrant. Cool, then grind to a fine powder in a mortar and pestle. Then dry-roast the shrimp paste over a gentle heat until fragrant.


Blend fresh chilli, garlic, onion, peppercorns, coriander root and rice bran oil in a food processor. Transfer paste to a frypan and cook over a gentle heat until slightly coloured. Return the paste to the food processor and blend with lime rind, lemongrass, dry-roasted shrimp paste, ground spices and remaining ingredients thoroughly.


In a frying pan over high heat, bring the coconut cream and rice bran oil to the boil, stirring continuously so that it doesn’t burn. When the coconut cream ‘splits’ (the oil separates from the solids), add the curry paste.


Add the coconut milk and adjust flavour with fish sauce, lime juice and grated palm sugar. I can’t really give you measurements on this as it’s a personal taste of salty, sweet and sour. You’ll know when you have the balance right. Add the duck and warm through and serve with all of the delicious condiments sprinkled on top and a big bowl of jasmine rice.