Beef Massaman Curry

I’d be lying if I told you that making a Thai curry was easy. It’s not. In actual fact making a good Thai curry is really quite difficult. The curry paste at the heart of any Thai curry is usually hugely complex and consists of a long list of ingredients that each need to be balanced to perfection. It is also a very time consuming process so I would suggest investing in a good pestle and mortar to make it a bit easier for yourself. Am I putting you off making your own? I really hope not, because although Thai curry’s are a challenge to make, the end result is so worth it.

If you’ve been to Thailand then you’ll agree that a massive part of this amazing country is the food. With street vendors selling Thailand’s signature dishes everywhere for such cheap prices, it’s difficult for the food not to have an impact on your visit. Most people will find themselves coming back home desperately trying to seek out the best Thai restaurants in the area. Whereas others, like me, return wanting to replicate those incredible dishes for themselves. Years ago this wouldn’t of been as simple, but nowadays due to our nations growing love for all types of Asian cuisine, ingredients are far more common and easy to find in all our big supermarkets.

The recipe I’ve chosen to share with you all is an absolute favourite of mine and is based on a fantastic version I had while staying in a little town called Pai in the north of Thailand. I’ve tried to get the dish as close to a traditional massaman curry possible, but you guys can be the verdict of that!

Beef Massaman Curry


(Serves 4)

1 tablespoon groundnut oil
6 shallots, peeled and cut into quarters
1 lemongrass stem, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
8 black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick, snapped in half
3 cloves
4 tablespoons dried chilli flakes
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 teaspoon fish sauce

Groundnut oil
550g beef chunks
8 cardamom seeds
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
8 shallots, peeled
1 and a half tablespoons fish sauce
1 can of coconut milk
2 cans coconut cream
Half a teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon palm sugar
10 new potatoes, peeled and halved


  1. First of all you need to make your curry paste which I would recommend making the day before. Begin by toasting the cinnamon stick, cumin seeds and coriander seeds in a pan until they begin to brown slightly and let off an aroma. Pour into pestle and mortar and grind until fine.
  2. Next add in the chilli flakes, cloves and peppercorns and continue to grind. Once all the spices have been ground to a fine texture (which may take a while due to the cinnamon stick) add in the rest of the ingredients bit by bit and begin grind into a paste. This process will take a while to complete but once it’s done the hard part’s over!
  3. After your paste is complete put all of the beef chunks into a large bowl and add in 4 heaped tablespoons of your amazing Massaman curry paste. Make sure the beef is well coated in the paste and then cover and leave in the fridge until required. I recommend leaving it overnight to allow the beef to take on all the flavours of the paste.
  4. Now onto the cooking of the curry! Heat a tablespoon of groundnut oil in a large saucepan over a medium to high heat. Add in the cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick and star anise and fry for 1 minute. Next add in the whole shallots and fry for a further 5 minutes until beginning to brown slightly.
  5. Add in your marinated beef and cook until lightly browned on all sides. Once the beef is well sealed pour in all the coconut milk, 1 can of coconut cream and a tablespoon of fish sauce and bring to a boil. Once it has reached a boil, turn the temperature down to a gentle simmer and cover for 1 hour.
  6. After 1 hour add in the other can of coconut cream, half a tablespoon of fish sauce and the potatoes. Stir well, turn up the heat slightly and cover again for a further half an hour or until the potatoes are cooked.
  7. Once cooked remove from the heat, add in the tamarind paste and palm sugar and stir well. Serve with plain boiled rice.


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