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  • Writer's picturePat Browne

Ultimate Beef Massaman Curry Recipe

Updated: Jul 12, 2021

Delicious rich, fall-apart, slow-cooked beef Massaman Curry in a spicy homemade sauce with new potatoes. It’s the perfect comfort food! Make extra and freeze some for a busy weeknight.

What is Massaman Curry?

Traditional Massaman curry is a Thai curry that's rich but mild heat-wise. It contains lots of spices, meat, potatoes and coconut milk.

How to make it

First make the Massaman Paste - into a food processor place red onion, chillies, ground coriander, cumin, cinnamon, white pepper, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, shrimp paste, fish sauce, brown sugar, salt and coriander (cilantro) stalks (save the leaves for sprinkling on top later). Blitz it all together.

Coat diced beef in cornstarch and fry in a casserole pan over a high heat, with a little vegetable oil, until browned. Turn down the heat and add in the massaman paste you made earlier. Add in beef stock and coconut milk, stir it all together (scraping up any bits that might have stuck to the bottom of the pan) and bring to the boil. Simmer with the lid on (or place in the oven at 160C/320F) for 1 hour 45 mins.

After this time, add the potatoes and cook for a further 30 minutes or so, with the lid off, until the sauce thickens and the potatoes are tender. Stir through the juice of a lime before serving.

Massaman Paste - makes about 6 tbsp:

  • 1 chopped red onion

  • 3 mild red chillies - roughly chopped (or use fewer chillies, depending on how hot you like it) - I use Fresno chillies

  • 2 tsp ground coriander

  • 2 tsp cumin

  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon

  • ½ tsp white pepper

  • 3 cloves garlic - peeled

  • 2 sticks of lemongrass - outer leaves removed, softer inside chopped finely (or replace with 2 tsp lemongrass paste)

  • 1 tsp minced ginger

  • 1 tsp shrimp paste - optional, also it's generally gluten free, but best to check

  • 3 tsp fish sauce - make sure it's a gluten free brand if needed

  • 1 tsp brown sugar

  • small bunch fresh coriander/cilantro stalks - you'll be using the leaves later to serve, so just wrap them in a bit of damp tissue to keep them fresh

  • ½ tsp salt

Other curry ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch

  • 1 kg (2 ¼ lbs) braising beef (beef chuck) - chopped into chunks

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper

  • 400 ml (1 ⅔ cups) beef stock - 2 stock cubes with water is fine - use kallo beef bouillon cubes for gluten free

  • 400 g (14 oz) can coconut milk

  • 500 g (1 lb) baby new potatoes - (slice any bigger ones in half)

  • Juice of 1 lime

To Serve:

  • Boiled rice

  • Chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)

  • Chopped red chillies

  • Lime wedges


  • Place all the paste ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper and blend until it forms a paste. Set aside.

  • Heat the oil in a large pan. Toss the chopped beef in the cornstarch, salt and pepper.

  • Fry the meat in the oil for about 5 mins on medium to high heat. You can do this in batches, but I find that if you put the meat in and leave it alone for a few minutes before you stir it, you'll get a nice dark colour on the beef. The beef will probably stick a bit to the pan, so you might need to give it a little scrape with a spatula.

  • Once the beef has cooked for 5 mins, turn down the heat a little and add in the spice paste you made earlier. Give it a stir to coat the beef and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

  • Add in the beef stock and coconut milk. Give everything a stir (make sure you give any bits stuck at the bottom of the pan a scrape), place the lid on and gently simmer on a low heat for 1 hour 45 mins (alternatively you can place in the oven at about 160C/320F). Give it a stir every so often. If it's starting to look dry you can add in some more beef stock or water.

  • After the 1 hour 45 mins, add in the potatoes, give it a stir and cook for a further 25 - 30 mins until the potatoes are tender (this is a good time to start cooking your rice too).

  • Take out of the oven and mix in the lime juice. Serve the curry on a bed of rice with a sprinkling of coriander/cilantro, fresh chillies and a wedge of lime.

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