Beef Musaman (Masaman) Curry

One of the tastiest curries you’re ever likely to experience is this Thai wonder. It can also be made with pork, lamb or chicken. The paste creates double quantity so, you can experience one more time. The paste will freeze and stay good for 2 months. It’s important to note that if you are on a diet then please stay well clear of this dish. You’d probably be better off nibbling on a block of lard. Coconut milk is saturated in all the wrong kinds of fat, and together with coconut cream… well, suffice to say it’s 40 minutes on the treadmill per spoonful just to stay even. But if you can’t have a few vices in life then you may as well just throw yourself under a bus now… just make sure you eat this curry first.

For the paste

5 small red shallotts (or 3 medium red onions) (chopped)
1 lemongrass stick (finely sliced)
1 tablespoon of galangal (minced) or 1 1/2 tablespoons minced ginger.
10 dried chillies (cayenne) Soaked for 20 minutes in boiling water
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
4 cardamom pods
10 garlic cloves (chopped)
1 teaspoon shrimp paste
1/4 teaspoon freshy ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Drain the chillies of their water and place in a deep bowl. Add all the other ingredients and blend into a smooth paste with a hand blender. Or blend in a food processor. If the paste is too thick add a couple of tablespoons of white wine vinegar.


For the Curry

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
750g beef steak (cut into bite size pieces)
1 400ml can of coconut milk
1 400ml can coconut cream
4 cardomom pods (bruised with a rolling pin)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 large onion
4 medium potatoes (cut into quarters)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup of cashew nuts (finely ground)
1/2 quantity of Musaman paste mix
1 1/2 teaspoons tamarind paste


Heat the oil in a large lidded pan over a medium heat. Fry in batches the beef for about 5 minutes each batch until browned. Return all the beef to the pan and add the cardomom pods. Pour in the coconut milk and 1/2 cup water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently with the lid on for 1 hour until the beef is tender.

Remove the beef from the pan and pour the coconut milk through a seive into a bowl and set aside.

Mix the tamarind paste with 1/4 cup of warm water and set aside.

Pour the coconut cream into the pan and heat until almost boiling over a medium heat. Add the Musaman paste and stir in well. Simmer for 10 minutes until some of the oil from the cream starts to separate. Now add the retained coconut milk then return the beef to the sauce together with the fish sauce, tamarind, potatoes and ground cashews. Let this simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on then add the onion and sugar and stir well. Taste for saltiness and add a little more if neccessary. Cook for a further 15 minutes with the lid off to reduce the sauce a little. Check that the potatoes are tender and cook for longer if necessary.

Some steamed french beans and plain jasmine or basmati rice. This curry doesn’t freeze very well as the potatoes go a bit strange, but it will keep in the fridge (covered) for up to 5 days and reheats perfectly.

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