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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!



Beef Massaman Recipe

Serves 4


800 grams of cubed chuck beef or stewing beef
3 tbs of massaman curry paste (Namjai brand)
10 green cardamom seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
3 star anise
8 small shallot onions, peeled
2 cans of coconut milk
1 cup of water
2 1/2 tbs fish sauce
5 new potatoes, peeled and halved
1- 2 tamarind pods (can be substituted with 1/2 tbs of tamarind paste)
2 tbs of palm sugar (can be substituted with brown sugar)
4 tbs of unsalted, roasted peanuts
2 tbs of peanut oil
A handful of fresh Thai basil leaves


1. Coat beef in 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and massaman curry paste. Stir well to coat and set aside.
2. In a large pot, heat remaining oil over a medium heat. Stir-fry the cardamom, cinnamon and star anise for 40 seconds. Add the whole shallots and fry until golden brown.
3. Add the curry-coated beef and brown for 1-2 minutes. Stir the beef well to coat it in the spices.
4. Add 1 can of coconut milk, 2 tbsp of fish sauce and 1/2 to 1 cup of water until the beef is just covered by the liquid. Stir well and then bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn heat down very low and cover. Gently simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
5. After this time, add the remaining can of coconut milk, potatoes, peanuts and half the basil leaves. Stir well. Taste and add a little more fish sauce if necessary.
6. Turn heat up to medium-low and cover. Cook for another 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
7. Meanwhile, prepare the tamarind juice. If you’re using fresh tamarind, peel the fruit out of the pod. Place the fruit and seeds in 2 tablespoons of warm water and use your fingers to rub the pulp off the seeds into the water. The water will become brown and pulpy — this is tamarind juice. Discard the seeds.
8. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove the curry from the heat. Stir in the sugar, tamarind juice and remaining basil. Stir well and serve the beef massaman curry with Jasmine rice.

Steamed Rice

1 1/2 cups of jasmine rice
Scant 3 cups of water


1. If you’re using a rice cooker than you probably don’t need instructions. If you’re cooking rice on the stove, then wash rice thoroughly under cold water and place it in a saucepan. Add water and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally. Cover and turn heat down low.
2. Cook for about 10-12 minutes. Serve.

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