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.

  • Nadine

    Do you think i can do this in a slow cooker? Was thinking about just chucking it all in at the same time and then leaving it to cook for the day. Is that a bad idea?

    • leej

      Its perfect for a slow cooker… The only thing I would leave out are the potatoes. If you slow cook them in the curry they’ll make it too starchy and they’ll end up mushy. Just add some pre cooked potatoes right at the end.

      You’ve made me want to eat an entire pan of this now… Thank you!

      • Nadine

        I did it, amazing! Totally delicious. I made rotis to go with it. Thanks Lee!

        • Lee


          I have been given a tip off of where to buy a good, cheap slow cooker (ALDI), so I am off to buy one tomorrow – I think I’ll christen it with this curry. Glad you liked.


  • whatyouhavingforyourtea

    Yeah yeah,

    while I’m all for authenticity, when I’m making a curry I’m not one to suddenly down tools and run to the shop in tears if I suddenly discover I don’t have peanuts in the house. I often substitute the odd ingredient for whatever I have to hand.

    I’ve made this with both peanuts and cashews and while they taste slightly different, they are both utterly delicious. I love cashews and they are used extensively in Thai cooking so I figured – who’s gonna die if I put them in a musaman curry?! 🙂

    Check out the Cambodian Masaman Curry – I used peanuts in that!!

  • aniceprsn

    Just have to say, interesting recipe. Although I’ve never been to a Thai restaurant that uses cashews in this – it’s always peanuts… just a musing… 🙂

  • whatyouhavingforyourtea

    Hi Brian!

    Thanks for your lovely message. And thank you for pointing out the errors in the recipe. From time to time, as utterly perfect as I normally am, I make mistakes. If you read the recipe now, you should be able to follow it without much trouble. If you’ve already had a bad experience, then I can only offer you an apology.

    I should really check my recipes more thoroughly before posting. There are likely other recipes on this blog with small errors so I suggest you never again cook anything from this site – instead, buy a takeaway or have an apple.

    My eternal thanks…

  • Brian

    Hi there!

    For a kitchen novice like myself, following this recipe is absolutely poo.

    1) The curry ingredients refers to Tamarind Paste – the directions refers to Tamarind Pulp. Which is it – Pulp or Paste?

    2) When you pour the coconut milk through a seive into a bowl and SET ASIDE, what do you do with it later? Put it back in or throw it out – why set aside? It doesn’t say.

    3) The last sentence of the directions for cooking the curry states, “Remove from the heat and place the lid back on and leave for 10 – 15 minutes”. What do you remove from the heat??? What stays in the pot for 10 – 15 minutes?

    From what I have left, there is no sauce (unlike those in the pictures elsewhere). Is this because the coconut milk left set aside should be added somewhere along the line?

    I hope all of your recipes are not this tricky to decipher.

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