Beef Massaman Curry

Oh Beef Massaman. You are a curry to warm the cold places, and make the house smell amazing. I have not always been a fan of the massaman curry, but this recipe has changed my mind. It has variety in flavour and texture, and is not simply meat and potato goo – which is always to be avoided.

Serves: 4
Cooking Time: Approximately 2 hours for marinating, and at least 2 hours and 30 minutes for preparation and cooking.


+ 800 grams of cubed chuck beef or stewing beef
+ 3 tablespoons of a massaman curry paste
+ 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 tablespoons of fish sauce
+ 5 baby potatoes, peeled and halved
+ 1- 2 tamarind pods (or you can use 1/2 a tablespoon of tamarind paste)
+ 2 tablespoons of palm sugar (can be substituted with brown sugar)
+ 4 tablespoons of unsalted, roasted peanuts
+ 2 tablespoons of peanut oil
+ A handful of fresh Thai basil leaves

TO SERVE: White rice (jasmine if you have it), and roti if you have the time you can make it, or if you have just the inclination it can be purchased in a store.


To marinate the beef, coat your meat in 1 tablespoon of peanut oil and massaman curry paste. Stir well to coat and set aside for at least 2 hours.

When you are ready to cook your meal, place your cardamon seeds, cinnamon sticks and star anise in a dry fry pan. Heat until fragrant. Place in a small spice blender, or in a mortar and pestle, and reduce to a fine powder. Take a large pot and heat the remaining oil over a medium heat.  Add the whole shallots and fry until golden brown, before adding the spice powder. Add the curry-coated beef and brown for 1-2 minutes. Stir the beef well to coat it in the spices. 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 and a half hours.

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. Turn heat up to medium-low and cover. Cook for another 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

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. If you are using a tamarind paste, no preparation is necessary!

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 rice, and Roti bread to mop up the delicious sauce.

Original recipe sourced from Rasa Malaysia.

2 thoughts on “Beef Massaman Curry

  1. Oh my goodness – this is such a wonderful recipe. The flavours are so unique and the taste well its nothing short of amazing.

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