Massaman Beef Curry

MassamanBeef massaman curry beef curry is thought to have been first seen in Central Thailand in the 17th century. Although it is a Thai dish some say it is influenced by Indian and Malay cuisine.  It is most commonly made with beef but can also be made with duck, chicken or even tofu.

This curry has a rich, sweet and spicy flavour and is best served with plain boiled rice.  Massaman curry paste can be found in some supermarkets and specialist stores or you can make your own (see below the main recipe).

(Serves 4)

2 tbsp sunflower or groundnut oil
600 g stewing or braising steak
75g roasted peanuts
1 small onion, finely sliced
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
2 medium potatoes (about 350g), cut into 2cm chunks
75g Massaman curry paste
400 ml coconut milk (can use reduced fat)
200 ml water
1 tablespoon of Thai fish sauce
1 tablespoon of palm sugar or light brown sugar
60 ml of tamarind juice (tamarind paste mixed with warm water)
1 cinnamon stick

Optional extras

100g green beans, trimmed and halved
4 kaffir lime leaves


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.
  2. Dry fry the peanuts in a non-stick pan for a couple of minutes until golden brown and reserve to one side.
  3. Heat half the oil in a large non-stick wok or non-stick sauté pan and stir-fry the beef until browned all over then put to one side.
  4. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the onions for 5 minutes over a medium heat,adding the chopped chilli after 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the Mussaman paste, then the coconut milk, fish sauce, tamarind juice, cinnamon stick and sugar plus add the potatoes and 50 g of the peanuts, bringing it to a simmer and then transfer to a casserole dish with a lid.
  6. Cook in the oven for 2 hours until the beef is tender.
  7. Before serving with rice, crush the remaining 25g of peanuts and sprinkle over the top of the curry.
  8. You can add kaffir lime leaves to the mix before you put in the oven.
  9. Also if you want to add green beans, add 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

Note, this curry works well with duck, chicken or tofu but you would need to reduce the cooking time.

Massaman curry paste


15 dried red chillies
1 tbsp coriander seeds, ground
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground
1 stick cinnamon, ground
3 cloves, ground
4 peppercorns, ground
4 tbsp garlic, chopped
4 tbsp shallots, chopped
1 heaped tsp shrimp paste
1 – 2 sticks lemongrass, chopped
1 tsp galangal root, chopped (ginger would work well here also)
1 tsp fish sauce


  1. Soak the chillies in water for 10 minutes and then deseed.
  2. Dry-fry the dry spices in a wok to release the flavours and then grind to a powder in a pestle and mortar or in a processor/blender.
  3. Add all the other ingredients and grind or blitz to a fine paste.
  4. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 months.
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