Massaman Beef Curry

Massaman curry is a Thai Muslim curry which has flavours reminiscent of Indian curries. 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


Beef Curry Stage 1

  • 1kg stewing beef, cut into cubes
  • 5 tbsp Masaman curry paste (see recipe)
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 12 small pickling onions or shallots, peeled
  • 3 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 litre coconut milk

Beef Curry Stage 2

  • 12 small new potatoes, scrubbed (if some of the are large cut them half)
  • 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)

To Serve

  • 1-1/2 tbsp roasted peanuts
  • cooked jasmine rice or pineapple rice (see recipe)


  1. Beef Curry Stage 1: Place the diced steak in a bowl and toss it with the curry paste (vary the amount according to taste) so that it is well coated.
  2. Place the oil in a large saucepan and when it is hot add the cardamom, shallots or pickling onions, garlic, cinnamon stick and star anise. Cook until it is aromatic and the shallots or onions are golden.
  3. Add the beef coated in the paste and cook for 1-2 minutes so that all sides of the meat are sealed and the mixture is aromatic. Pour in 500ml of the coconut milk and around 250ml of water or just enough to cover the meat well. Bring the curry to a strong simmer then reduce it to a slow simmer. Leave the curry to cook gently for 1-1/12 hours until the meat is tender and the curry is thick. *You can prepare the curry up to this stage and store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours before finishing the cooking.
  4. Beef Curry Stage 2: Pour in the remaining milk and add the new potatoes to the curry. Return the curry to a steady simmer and cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  5. Remove the curry from the heat and stir in the fish sauce, tamarind water, lime juice, sugar, peanuts and basil leaves, until well incorporated.
  6. 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.