Masaman Oxtail Curry

Masaman curry is a Thai Muslim curry which has flavours reminesent of Indian curries. This dish is traditionally prepared with stewing steak but oxtail works well as it is a good flavoursome stewing meat. This curry is easy to prepare but needs slow gentle cooking. The part of the dish that does take time to prepare is the curry paste but once you have made it it will last for up to 3 months in a sealed container in the refrigerator. If you starting from scratch you may wish to make the curry paste while the first stage of the curry is cooking.

Prep: 10-15 minutes
Cook: 3-4 hours


  • 1kg oxtail, cut into even pieces
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 1-1.2 litre coconut milk
  • 5 tbsp Masaman curry paste (see recipe)
  • 12 small new potatoes scrubbed
  • 12 small pickling onions, peeled
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp tamarind water*
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp whole roasted peanuts
  • 6 tbsp basil leaves (holy basil preferable)
  • 1-1/2 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • steamed or boiled jasmine rice


  1. Oxtail Curry: Trim the oxtail of fat and put it in a pan with cardamom pods 500ml of coconut milk diluted with 500ml water. Bring the coconut milk and water to the simmer and leave it on a low simmer for 2-3 hours (until the meat is tender). Remove the meat from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon. Reserve the cooking stock to make a spicy soup or noodle dish e.g. lamb laksa. Allow the meat to cool while you prepare step 2 or refrigerate it overnight.
  2. Heat the rest of the coconut milk over a moderate to high heat until it becomes oily. At this stage stir in the curry paste and cook it until it smells fragrant.
  3. Shred the meat from the bone. Add the meat, potatoes and onions in the coconut curry mixture, Bring it to the simmer and allow it to cook at a low simmer for 40-50 minutes until the vegetables are tender adding more coconut milk if necessary. Stir in the palm sugar, tamarind water, fish sauce and basil leaves.
  4. To Serve: Place the curry in a large serving bowl and sprinkle it with peanuts and serve it with cooked jasmine rice or distribute the curry among 6 plates with the rice.
*Tamarind Water: Place a teaspoon of tamarind paste (available from most East Asian grocers) in a container and pour over 2-3 tbsp of boiling water and leave it to stand for 15 minutes. Strain the water and press out any extra juice from the tamarind.