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Beef Massaman Curry Recipe

Thai Food: Beef Massaman Curry Recipe

I would like to introduce you to a dear blogger friend Syrie of Taste Buddies. Currently based in Canada, Syrie is of Thai descent but spent a lot of times in Australia. Her culinary skills span across various cuisines: Thai, Australian, New Zealand, French, and more. Syrie is also a food guide on Please welcome Syrie of Taste Buddies to Rasa Malaysia with her beef massaman curry post!

I first discovered Rasa Malaysia via Tastespotting over a year ago. I was mesmerized by the culinary creations and, to be honest, was a little envious of Rasa Malaysia’s talents in the kitchen. Since then, we have become friends and today I have the honour of being a guest writer on Rasa Malaysia! So, I’d like to extend a big “thank you” to the kind invitation to post here.

I grew up in Thailand, and so I thought that I would post a Thai dish, Massaman curry.

Thailand is a country of diverse flavours borne out of its many ethic groups. The population is predominantly Buddhist with minorities including Christians, Hindus, Confucianists and animists. It is Muslims that make up Thailand’s largest minority group in the southern part of the country.

In the 9th century, Arab merchants voyaged to Sumatra, Aceh and Java to buy precious spices like nutmeg and cloves. The spread of trade was quickly followed by the spread of religion until it reached Thailand’s southern shores.

The next several centuries saw the adoption of spices like cloves, cinnamon, star anise and tamarind into Thai cuisine. All ingredients used in the popular Gaeng Massaman which literally translates to “Muslim Curry”. The coconut-based curry is usually made with beef along with potatoes and peanuts…

Massaman paste is made up of a whole range of ingredients including chilies, shallots, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, cilantro seeds, cumin, cloves, pepper and shrimp paste. While homemade curry paste is delicious, store-bought pastes work just as well.

As with most curries, the second day after cooking is when the flavours of the spices develop and really permeate the tender meat, which by the way, melts in your mouth.

The massaman curry takes 2 hours to cook but don’t let this deter you. It’s worth the wait and since there’s not much effort in the preparation, all you have to do is be patient. Although, this may be hard when the intoxicating aromas of this beef massaman curry fill up your kitchen!

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39 COMMENTS... read them below or add one

  1. Lori Lynn

    Oh, this sounds so wonderful. I took cooking classes in Pattaya while on vacation a few years ago. And I just planted a Kaffir Lime tree on Wednesday. I am looking forward to more Thai cooking. Thanks for this Massaman recipe!
    Lori Lynn

  2. limpepsi

    I seldom cook curry but I am attracted by your recipe, which uses roasted peanuts and fish sauce.I love roasted peanuts so I will find a chance to try this Thai cuisine!

    But why do we add coconut milk in two times?

  3. Taste Heaven

    I love masamman curry because I am Malaysian. All the other Thai curries such as red curry, yellow curry and green curry are all too rich and sweet for my taste. Masamman curry is closer to the curries in Malaysia but we don’t use fish salt to flavour curry.

    Nice post!

  4. Anonymous

    I love the pinkish beef in the first photo, looks so tender and yummy. Never tried masamman curry before, will have to order it the next time when I go to Thai restaurants.

  5. syrie

    Hi everyone, thanks for your comments and glad you like the recipe.

    Limpepsi, in response to your question as to why I had the coconut milk twice…this is because the first time I add it, it just covers the meat. As it boils down, it becomes more and more concentrated and this results in the beef absorbing the intense flavours.

    The second batch of coconut milk is added to dilute the concentrated liquid. This is the stage when the potatoes, peanuts and basil are added. Hope this helps.

    Cheers, Syrie

  6. Anonymous

    My husband made this tonight and it is excellent. My mouth was watering while it was cooking. It is definitely a keeper. Thank you!

  7. Marc @ NoRecipes

    Ohhh looks amazing Syrie. This is one of my all time favourite curries (indian, thai or otherwise). Your version looks fantastic.

  8. ChichaJo

    Thai curries are so wonderfully deep in flavor but at the same time have a vibrant fresh note…that’s why I love them! :) I have a bunch of these curry pastes in my pantry…I should pull out the massaman one already and use it for this!

  9. Sandra

    I always love potatoes in my curries, they are always so nice. Thanks for the massaman recipe, will have to get the instant curry paste to try it out.

  10. Zeashan

    Your picture’s are great!

    This recipe is almost exactly like what my grandmother, who is of Indian/Hyderabadi descent. makes. I think the differences is the addition of basil leaves and peanuts, which of course make the recipe distinctly Thai, but this is a very common dish amongst Muslims in India/Pakistan as well. The proper name escapes me, but I just call it aloo-gosht, which literally translates to potato meat.

  11. Claude-Olivier

    hehe, I’ve done exactly the same during last week-end. I love this curry, spicy but not too much. Great photo, as always! cheers

  12. eleonora

    Your blog is super. So are your photographies. They make me hungry. I have spent a nice moment when seeing them. Thanks a lot.

  13. Agnes

    I know I am late, but I want to share what I know in this coconut milk topic! In Indonesia we also add coconut milk twice to the dish. The reason is because coconut milk, esp. the thick one, will “break” (the fat/oil is separated from the water) if you heat it too long. So at the beginning we add thin coconut milk to stew the meat, and at the end we add thick milk to give a rich broth. Hope this helps!

  14. oh-range

    The best massaman curry I’ve ever cooked! Thank you very much for sharing the recipe! I’ll surely cook this again.

    • Andy

      Nurul i used the Valcom brand thai style massaman curry paste available from Coles or Woolwoths and that seem to work fine.

  15. Leah

    mmmm half way through making this and smells devine….lokking forward to eating this tonight…Thanks so much for your yummy recipes and great photos

  16. Anna

    I have been wanting to make this for a long time but I have one reservation. Since the whole spices are never taken out how do you eat it in the end? The star anise and cinnamon sticks are large enough so that you can avoid them, but doesn’t biting into whole cardamon pods taste kind of bitter? Am I missing something?

  17. paula foley

    We usually buy take away from our local Thai Restaurant in Bundy. I always order their Massaman. Just love it to death. I cooked some lamb in a slow cooker yesterday and thought I might try make a Lamb Massaman. Found this recipe, looks like what I usually order so wish me luck. Just off to the asian grocer for a couple of the ingredients. Hope he has the Massaman paste. Will make do if he doesn’t. Keep you posted. Cheers. Love chicken Tikka Masala too will have to try that next. Yummo.

  18. Parris

    Long time lurker, first time poster! I’d like to make this for 8 people but I’m unsure whether I should double the spices. Would they become too overpowering if I did so?

  19. Nic

    Great Massamn curry and very easy to make. It takes a bit of time but the end result is well worth the effort. One suggestion – watch the amount of liquid added, as I used less than the recipe specified to avoid the curry sauce becoming too thin.

  20. Andy

    Hi Bee, I would like to thank you another fantastic recipe. I love beef massaman and was very interested in trying your version. I have to say it was fantastic. Loved every mouthfull. I will be following your site more often if this and the last recipe I tried are that good cant wait to try your others. Keep up the good work and most importantly willing to share it with the world thanks. Your new fan.

  21. Natashka Manthen

    I’ve made this a zillion times, super recipe! Quick question, it’s been ages since I’ve made this, should I take 10 cardamon pods and use the seeds from those 10 pods, or is it just ten of the little black seeds that come from the pod?
    Can’t recall!
    LOL – please hurry, making this tonight! :)

  22. saj

    I researched many massaman curry recipes but decided to use this one because the picture looked so vibrant and yummy,,

    Just cooked this for dinner and was so happy with the result.. Everyone said that it tasted better than the ones served in restaurants in the Philippines. I must say I used fresh coconut cream and milk because of its abundance in our country.. I also blitzed the shallots, cardamom and cinnamon which I heated in the oil…… Thank you so much for this wonderful recipe… Till I try the next one….

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