Thai Foods Ep.3

Thai Massaman Curry Burger

by Thomas M. Tillman
If you're looking for some new flavours to add to your burger routine, this is the one to try! Grilled patties are dunked in a ruch massaman curry sauce with roasted peanuts, topped with fried potato slices and caramelized onions. Potatoes, peanuts and onions are classic components of a massaman curry, so I wanted to make sure they get included in the burger and it worked out so well. Add a few pickled peppers if you like it spicy!

The Quick-Fix Massaman Curry Paste

You can find premade massaman curry paste at some Asian grocery stores, but in general it tends to be hard to find. The good news is, you can easily turn red curry paste, which is available at most stores, into massaman curry paste with just a few addition of dry spices! I've provided the recipe for this quick-fix "semi-homemade" massaman curry paste below.

Short on time? There are shortcuts!

You can use store bought burger patties to make things go a little faster since the flavour is mostly in the sauce and toppings. Also if you're already serving fries with the meal, you can skip the potato slices and try just putting fries right into the burger!

No Buns? No Problem!

This burger also works  really well as a bunless, knife-and-fork burger because the potatoes are acting as the carbs already. Serve with some greens and you're good to go!


The combination of massaman curry and ground beef patties are just perfect, so much so I've got recipes for massaman meatloaf and meatballs, too!



  • 1 lb g ground beef
  • ¼ of a large onion, finely minced (optional but recommended if the beef is lean)
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
Note: You can substitute store bought plain burger patties to simplify things.


  • ¾ of a large onion, julienned
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 medium russet potato, thinly sliced about 3mm (see note)
  • 4 burger buns, or serve them bunless with a side of salad
  • Pickled hot peppers or regular burger pickles (optional)
  • Lettuce (optional)
Note: If you’re serving fries, you can skip the potato slices and just put fries in your burger! Massaman Curry Sauce:
  • 1 cup coconut milk, divided
  • 1 recipe semi-homemade massaman curry paste (recipe below) or 50g store-bought massaman curry paste
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 Tbsp cooking tamarind or ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce or a squeeze of lime (see note)
  • 1-3 tsp fish sauce, as needed
  • ¼ cup finely chopped roasted peanuts, unsalted
Note: You can buy cooking tamarind at Asian grocery stores; they are labeled “tamarind paste” or “tamarind concentrate”. Do not use tamarind concentrate from India as it’s a lot more concentrated.


Simply mix together the following:
  • 50g Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ⅛ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cardamom
Ingredients and Kitchen Tools I Use



  1. In a mixing bowl combine ground beef, minced onion, fish sauce and black pepper; mix together until well combined. Form into 4 patties and let rest in the fridge while you make the rest of the recipe.


  1. Heat a large skillet on medium heat and add a little oil. Add the onion and a little sprinkle of salt and saute until soft, sweet, and caramelized, deglazing with water as needed if there’s a lot of browned bits stuck to the pan. Remove from pan and set aside.


  1. In the same skillet you used for the onion, add a little bit of oil and turn heat on to medium high. Lay the potato slices down in one layer (you may need to do 2 batches).
  2. Cover with a lid for about 2 minutes, then once the bottoms are golden brown, turn them over and cook the other side for another 2 minutes, covered, until fully cooked. Remove and repeat with the other half.


  1. In a small pot, add ⅓ cup of coconut milk and the curry paste, cook together over medium heat until it’s very thick and pasty.
  2. Add remaining coconut milk, sugar, tamarind and simmer for another 2 minutes. You should have a gravy-like consistency that’s thick enough to coat burger patties well.
  3. Stir in peanuts.
  4. Taste and add fish sauce as needed.
  5. Cover and keep warm while you cook the burgers.


  1. Cook the burger patties however you normally do them, on a pan or the grill.
  2. Toast the buns, if desired, and line the bottom bun with lettuce.
  3. When ready to serve, dip the cooked patties into the massaman sauce to coat well and place them on the lettuce-lined buns.
  4. Top with 4-5 potato slices, sauteed onion, and pickles (if using).
  5. Serve immediately. Enjoy!