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Massaman Beef Curry recipe

Massaman Beef Curry recipe

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  • Recipes
  • Ingredients
  • Meat and poultry
  • Beef
  • Cuts of beef
  • Steak
  • Stewing steak

A delicious Thai curry made with homemade curry paste. Enjoy with freshly cooked rice.

12 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 1kg diced beef stewing steak
  • 4 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 500g small potatoes, halved
  • 250g small onions, halved
  • 5 tablespoons massaman paste (see recipe below)
  • 2 (400ml) tins coconut cream
  • 160ml hot water
  • 50g dark brown soft sugar
  • For the Massaman Paste
  • 4 small red chillies or to taste
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 spring onions
  • 2 teaspoons chopped lemon grass
  • 2 teaspoons groundnut oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground tumeric
  • 2 tablespoons water

MethodPrep:30min ›Cook:1hr15min ›Ready in:1hr45min

  1. To make the massaman paste: Process all the ingredients in a liquidiser or food processor. If it's too dry, add a little water to make a paste. Use in this recipe, store any remainder in the refrigerator for upto 3 weeks.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and brown steak in batches. Remove from pan.
  3. Add the potatoes and onion to same saucepan and stir until lightly browned. Add 5 tablespoons curry paste and stir over high heat for 1 minute.
  4. Add the coconut cream, steak, water and sugar. Bring to the boil, then simmer for about 45 minutes, uncovered or until the meat is tender.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(4)

Reviews in English (3)

by Marlz

Altered ingredient amounts.I have found a very good massaman curry paste available in the supermarkets that will save you time and effort it is called Valcom not too hot for kids.-20 Jan 2011(Review from this site AU | NZ)

by JackieAllen

Marlz on your advice I also got the Valcom curry paste and it made this recipe sooooo much simpler....I found it to be easy to make and I also added a handful of frozen cross cut green beans for colour and used casserole beef and slowed cooking time to about 4's not hot at all despite how scary the paste looks....if you wanted hot you made want to add so sliced red chillies to it as well-25 Aug 2014(Review from this site AU | NZ)

Place the beef in a saucepan and pour the water over it. Bring to a simmer and cook for 1½ to 2 hours until the meat is really tender. You will probably need to add more water but only add just enough to cover. We want the stock to be really flavourful from the beef.

When the meat is almost tender enough to eat, stir in the potatoes and cook until fork tender.

While the meat is cooking, you can start making the curry. In a wok or large frying pan, heat the coconut oil over medium high heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the onion and peanuts. Fry for about 3 minutes and then add the massaman curry paste. Stir well to combine in the oil.

Now add the coconut milk and the tamarind concentrate, followed by the beef, potatoes and about 250ml (1 cup) of the cooking stock. Simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken.

You can cook the meat and potatoes ahead of time.

This ensure you get a delicious stock to use in your curries and that the meat and potatoes are cooked to perfection.

This can be done a day or two ahead of serving.

You can also make your Massaman curry paste a couple of days in advance.

Start by pre-cooking the meat. This will take a good 90 minutes or longer.

It’s always a good idea to get your ingredients together before cooking.

Beef Massaman Curry

This mild, yet rich curry is a delicate balance of sweet, savoury and spice. If you can&rsquot find sticky rice, use basmati instead and cook according to pack instructions.

This rich beef curry takes a while to make but you will be rewarded with a wonderful flavour!

Massaman curry paste, we used Bart

beef chuck steak or boneless shin, cut into large chunks, see GH Tip

small onions, roughly chopped

Large handful Thai basil, torn if large, to serve

  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add 2tbsp coconut milk and the curry paste and fry for 1min. Add the beef and fry until browned all over, about 5min.
  2. Stir in remaining coconut milk, potatoes, tamarind paste, onions, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, fish sauce, palm sugar, peanuts and 400ml just-boiled water from a kettle. Bring to the boil and bubble for 45min-1hr, stirring occasionally, until beef and potatoes are tender.
  3. When the curry has 20min left of cooking, wash the rice well in a bowl of cold water, rubbing the grains together with the palms of your hands as if polishing them. Drain away any cloudy water and repeat (several times if necessary) until water remains clear. Put rice in a medium pan with 300ml water and bring to the boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer gently for 10-15min, until water is absorbed and rice tender.
  4. Check seasoning of the curry and garnish with Thai basil leaves. Serve alongside the rice with lime wedges for squeezing over.

Prepare curry to end of step 2 up to a day ahead cool, cover and chill. To serve, reheat gently until piping hot, adding a splash of water if needed. Complete recipe to serve.

Beef chuck, from the shoulder, or shin are both well-marbled cuts of meat, resulting in a tastier curry. Avoid pre-diced lean casserole meat, which can be dry.

What is Massaman curry?

Massaman curry is one of the famous Thai curries. It originated in the south of Thailand near the border of Malaysia and is a thick sauce with a mild, slightly sweet flavor.

All though the curry itself is originated from the Muslim trade in Siam around 17th century (Massaman curry means the curry of Muslim), it was quickly adapted to the Thai cuisine.

With the spices and aromatics like cinnamon, cloves, lemongrass and galangal are mixed with slightly sour tamarind to create an incredible base for a meat or vegetarian dish.

C hicken is the most commonly used in Massaman curry, but beef, mutton, goat is also widely used as well.

Beef Massaman Curry


Lightly season the beef with salt and pepper, and heat a pressure cooker or large heavy-based pot to a high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the pressure cooker or pot and in batches of about 3 pieces, sear the meat cubes all over until golden brown (about 3 minutes). Remove and place on a plate. Add the remaining oil and the curry paste and stir regularly for 1-2 minutes on a medium heat until it splits and is fragrant. Return the meat and coat in the paste and then add the potatoes and onions. Stir to combine and then add coconut milk. Close the lid and pressure-cook for 45 minutes*.

*If using a heavy-based pot instead of a pressure cooker, cook covered on a low heat for 3 hours.

Release the steam and open. Remove from the heat. Check seasoning and balance sauce out by adding the palm sugar, fish sauce and lime. Stir gently so as not to break up the meat and potatoes.

With a slotted spoon place the beef, potatoes and onions into a platter.

Pour the thick sauce over the meat and vegetables and sprinkle over shallots, peanuts and coriander.

1. For the curry paste, preheat oven to 150C (130C fan-forced) and roast peanuts on a baking tray for 15 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove nuts from tray and then roast coconut for about 10 minutes and then bay leaves for 5 minutes. Set all aside to cool.

2. Heat a frying pan over low heat and lightly toast cardamom seeds until fragrant, about 5 minutes.

3. Grind the roasted bay leaves and cardamom seeds together with cloves in a spice grinder (or use a mortar and pestle) to form a fine powder and set aside.

4. Process peanuts, coconut, ground spices, chilli, water and salt together to form a coarse paste similar to chunky peanut butter. Add a little extra water if it becomes too thick or hard to process.

5. For the curry, place coconut cream, cassia bark, cardamom seeds, lemongrass and lime leaves in a large, heavy-based pot and, over a medium heat, bring to a gentle boil for five minutes to infuse the flavours.

6. Add beef to the pot and bring up to a gentle boil again, then reduce heat to very low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1.5-2 hours or until the meat is tender. Drain off the braising liquid and reserve.

7. Keeping the meat in the same pot, add the curry paste, ginger and peanuts and cook over a medium to low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

8. Add the reserved braising liquid, potatoes, palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water and cook for a further 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through.

9. Taste and adjust seasoning the curry should be quite dry, but add a little extra coconut cream if required to form a wetter gravy.

10. Serve immediately in a large bowl with crispy shallots, steamed rice, and with a squeeze of lime and coriander to taste.

Beef and potato Massaman curry

Got a few hours up your sleeve? There's worse ways to spend them than cooking a big pot of this curry.

Beef and potato Massaman curry


  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 piece cassia bark
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 boneless beef shin (about 1kg), cut into 6cm pieces (see note)
  • 270 ml coconut cream (see note)
  • 1.8 litres coconut milk
  • 500 gm Desiree potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 5cm pieces
  • 50 gm soft light palm sugar, or to taste
  • 50 ml fish sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp tamarind extract, or to taste (see note)
  • To serve: coriander, julienned ginger and steamed jasmine rice
  • 22 gm dried long red chillies, broken up and soaked in hot water for 2 hours
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 45 gm (1/3 cup) roasted peanuts, plus extra to serve
  • 4 large red shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped



Note Boneless beef shin needs to be ordered from your butcher, or substitute osso buco, increasing the quantity to account for the bones. Use coconut cream without thickeners or it won't crack - that is, the fat won't separate. Tamarind extract is best made fresh. To make 80ml extract, combine 1 tbsp tamarind pulp with 100ml hot water, and stand until pulp softens. Break up the pulp in the water with the back of a spoon and strain through a coarse sieve.&nbsp
Drink Suggestion: Rich, black chocolate stout. Drink suggestion by Max Allen


If you love a hearty beef curry that tastes fantastic, then this recipe is for you. It’s flavourful, fragrant and super easy to make. The best news of all, however, is that this winner can be served all year round so you never have to go without. Trust us when we say there won’t be any leftovers!


Get your hands on these wonderful ingredients and you’ll be well on your way to massaman beef curry heaven. You’ll need:

  • 600g stewing beef steak cut into large chunks
  • 450g waxy potatoes, cut into 2½ cm chunks
  • 85g unsalted peanuts
  • 1 onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves (available from supermarkets or Thai shops)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced, to serve
  • 4 tbsp massaman curry paste
  • 1 tbsp palm or soft light brown sugar


Everyone loves when a tasty dish is simple to make, and that’s why this massaman beef curry is so popular. Follow the steps below and you can’t go wrong:

  • Heat oven to 180°C and roast peanuts on a greased baking dish for five minutes, or until they change colour to golden brown. Once cool enough to touch, roughly chop with a sharp knife. Turn oven down to 160°C.
  • In a large casserole dish, heat 2 tablespoons of coconut milk (including the cream on top). Pour in curry paste and fry for one minute, then add in the beef and fry until properly coated and sealed.
  • Stir in the remaining coconut plus half a can of water, the potatoes, lime leaves, cinnamon, onion, sugar, fish sauce, tamarind and most of the peanuts. Bring to a gentle simmer and then place a lid on top and continue cooking for two hours in the oven until the beef is tender.
  • Top things off with sliced chilli (if you like things spicy) and the leftover peanuts. Serve alongside a generous helping of jasmine rice and prepare to spoil both friends and family!

A winning recipe in anyone’s book

This massaman beef curry recipe is sure to draw a crowd at the dinner table and it’s easy to see why. With slow cooked, tender beef that melts in your mouth, plus a sprinkle of peanuts for great crunch, it boasts everything that you need to impress. Be generous with your servings and cook plenty so everyone can come back for more. Remember you can use a little or a lot of spice based on your personal preference.

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Massaman Beef Curry Recipe

Masaman Beef Curry is an easy and delicious recipe for any night of teh week. With tender bites of steak, perfectly cooked potatoes, and a rich and creamy peanut butter and red curry based sauce, this dinner will quickly become a family favorite!


  • 1 lb flank steak, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 150 ml can coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup all natural chunky peanut butter
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 large potato, chopped
  • 1 tsp red curry paste
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro.


  1. Heat a large skillet and the oil over medium-high heat.
  2. When the pan is hot, brown the meat, stirring occasionally, for 4 minutes.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is semi-translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce the heat in the pan to medium.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, fish sauce, pepper and cinnamon.
  6. Add the sauce mixture to the pan, along with the chopped potato, and cook, stirring frequently, until the potato is soft, about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the red curry paste (if you want more heat you can continue adding 1 tsp at a time until you reach the desired spiciness).
  8. Remove from the heat of the stove and stir in the juice of 1 lime.
  9. Top with a generous sprinkling of cilantro and roasted, unsalted peanuts.
  10. Serve with cooked Jasmine Rice and/or Nann!
  11. Enjoy!

Beef Massaman Curry Recipe

A very traditional Massaman Curry calls for Seville orange or som sah which is becoming more difficult to find in Thailand. I always have made massaman curry without the orange. Seville orange or som sah has lost its popularity, but is making a come back in the Thai culinary world. I was curious how the orange would add to this already delicious curry. I was not disappointed the orange added a whole other dimension.

Massaman curry has many accompaniments. Some palaces serve massaman curry with mee grob, fried salted egg, beef jerky or crispy fried anchovies. Klong Bangluang residents (a large Muslim community 200 years ago) ate massaman curry with crunchy fried fish, watermelon and pickled mustard.

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lb beef
  • 1/2 inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons masaman curry paste
  • 3/4 lb onion
  • 4 tablespoons Palm Sugar
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 3/4 lb potatoes
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon tamarind paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons Seville orange

Tips and Techniques

  • Massaman Curry tastes best if it sits overnight. The spices will have penetrated into the bland potatoes. The sweetness in onions will have seeped out and blended in with the curry.
  • The hand squeezed coconut milk contains a large ratio of water to coconut milk. However, the machine squeezed coconut milk that is sold in cans and UHT containers, has just coconut milk. In order to adjust the the fat content, I use water to fill the pot as opposed to coconut milk.
  • To salt or not to salt: if you are using store-bought Massaman Curry Paste, taste the curry first before adding salt. Often, commercial curry pastes have high salt content. If needed, add ½ teaspoon at a time.
  • No fish sauce needed. Traditionally, salt is used in flavoring curries, especially Massaman Curry. Fish sauce will add fish flavor which is not desirable in Massaman Curry.
  • I used pearl onions because they keep together well during long simmer. It's pure aesthetic, not flavor. You can use cut pieces of large yellow onion as well, but they seem to disintegrate quicker.
  • Substitution of Seville orange juice: mix lime juice and orange juice at 1 to 1 ratio.
  • As the curry simmers, it may get very thick and reduced. Add some water as necessary.



I make my own Massaman Curry Paste, but a store-bought one works well, too. Peel onions and potatoes. Squeeze the Seville orange to make 3 tablespoons of juice. Cut beef into 1 inch cubes. Cut potatoes into large chunks, approximately 2 inch cubes. If you are making a large pot and plan to eat it over several days, I recommends cut some beef and potatoes at different sizes. Serve the smaller sizes first. By the time you get the later days, large chunks of meat and potatoes will be tender.


Toast peanuts in a pan until brown, over low to medium low heat, about 5-7 minutes.

Add 2/3 of coconut milk to a large pot over medium heat. Add Massaman Curry paste into the pot. Stir to break up the curry paste. Mix it well with the coconut milk. Keep stirring to prevent the bottom from burning.

After 3-5 minutes, you start see red oil bubbles up. Make sure you get a lot of oil out which is the signature of Massaman Curry by frying longer and add more coconut milk at this stage compared to making other Thai curries. The oil fries the spices and brings out the fragrance, flavors and color. Stir to coat the beef with sauce to brown the beef. The browning gives the beefs better texture and keep the beef together during simmering.

Add the cubed potatoes, onions, the rest of coconut milk, water, cinnamon and bay leaf. Let the curry come to a simmer. Let it simmer for at least 1 hour or longer until the beef is tender. When the beef and potatoes are tender, add seasonings. Add palm sugar, tamarind, Seville orange juice and salt.


When Massaman Curry is ready, the potatoes and onions will have disintegrated somewhat and thickened the curry. The beautiful red oil will float on top. The toasted peanuts will be soft. The curry is fragrant with spices and toasted nuts.

There are 3 flavors that you need to balance sweet, salty and sour. The Massaman Curry that I like is more salty than sweet. The sour should be the last flavor that you taste and the least intense.

Massaman Curry with Seville orange has a different twist with citrus flavor and different type of tartness. The sourness from citrus is sharp and clean compared to tamarind which has softer sweet and sour flavors. The meat should be near melting in your mouth. The potatoes should be soft and somewhat dissolved around the edges.

Serve hot with rice and accompaniments of your choice.

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