Beef Massaman Curry

The Beef Massaman Curry is one of the tastiest thai curries you're ever likely to experience. For this out there who are not sadistic about their spice or for those who just don't like hot hot food, this is a great curry for you.

Not all Thai curries are nuclear - the Massaman is much milder and unfathomably fragrant. It's creamy, and sweet and warming without the challenging hit of spice. It uses unusual spices for Thai food, which may link back to its Persian and Indian roots as the word Massaman derives from the word Muslim.

Thai sweat shop

I remember eating this the first time a food court in Bangkok - we'd been on a marathon street food fest for a few days in blistering heat and I'd HAD IT with sweating my way through a meal. It was over 40º/105ºF every day. I'd look at Thai people around me going about their business, eating liquid gunpowder next to us without a single change in their appearance. Not a single bead of sweat. I however resembled a slowly poaching pig - chilli tears streaming down my bright red face, water cascading down my body and into my at-capacity sopping clothes.

Just once, I wanted a meal, not an ordeal - so we relented on our authentic street food quest and visited the mega-mall. A fully air conditioned mega-mall.

Hitting the Mall

We had the day of our lives! Persusing bookstores! Squeezing into tiny Thai clothing! Lattes and pastries! We had haircuts! Smoothies! Watched fashion shows! and finally, visited the food court for lunch.

Thai food courts are phenomenal! There are a few western influences for sure, but the food is predominantly Thai and South East Asian. This is where I first saw Massaman. There were two versions on offer. A beef version and an egg version. I obviously ordered both and was not disappointed.

I love the use of potatoes in Massaman curry - I'm sure used to pad out the sauce to make a more filling dish, and it works the soft meat combined with the creamy potato is wondrous and the distinctive flavours evident. The subtle fragrance from cardamom and cinnamon are quite unique in this Thai dish.

Overall, Massaman is possibly one of Thailand's finest - but is often overshadowed by it's hotter green or red curry cousins. You should definitely experience this curry once in your life and you don't need to visit a Thai foodcourt to do it... there's a delicious recipe below!

How to make my Beef Massaman Curry

Beef Massaman Curry

RatingYields4 Servings
Prep Time20 minsCook Time2 hrs 10 mins

Ingredients

Wet ingredients
2 tbsp peanut oil
¼ cup peanuts
3 Thai chillies
5 garlic cloves (peeled)
1 lemongrass stalk
2 shallots (peeled)
3 cm piece of fresh galangal (sliced)you can also use fresh ginger
1 small bunch coriander stems (keep leaves for garnish)
Dry ingredients
4 cardamom pods
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
5 cm cinnamon stick
4 cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp white pepper
1 tsp salt
For the curry
2 tbsp peanut oil
1 kg beef chuck (cut into chunks)
2 400ml cans coconut milk
2 tbsp fish sauce
3 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into large pieces)

Directions

For the curry
1

Create the spice powder first. Heat a frying pan and add the cardamom, cumin sees, coriander seeds, cinnamon and cloves.

2

Dry fry for 1-2 minutes until the cumin starts to pop and jump around. Remove and add to a spice grinder or pestle & mortar. Grind the spices into a fine powder then stir in the paprika, nutmeg, turmeric, white pepper and salt.

3

Add the wet ingredients peanut oil to the pan and fry the peanuts for 1-2 minutes until brown. Remove and drain on paper towels to cool.

4

Using a stick blender or food processor or pestle & mortar, grind the peanuts, chillies, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, galangal and coriander into a paste. Add the powder and blend again to incorporate, adding a little water if it becomes too thick.

5

Pour the fish sauce over the beef and toss to combine. In a large pan over a medium heat, heat the peanut oil and then add the beef to the pan to fry for 4-5 minutes to brown. Add the paste and stir well to combine.

6

Cook for a further 5 minutes before adding 1/2 can coconut milk. Now turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Simmer vigorously for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking until the sauce is almost gone. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cans of coconut milk and 1 can full of water and again, bring to a boil.

7

Reduce the heat to low and simmer the curry for 1 1/2 hours, partially covered until the beef is soft. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 25 minutes until they're cooked through.

I serve mine with Jasmine rice and sprinkle over some fresh coriander leaves.

Ingredients

Wet ingredients
 2 tbsp peanut oil
 ¼ cup peanuts
 3 Thai chillies
 5 garlic cloves (peeled)
 1 lemongrass stalk
 2 shallots (peeled)
 3 cm piece of fresh galangal (sliced)you can also use fresh ginger
 1 small bunch coriander stems (keep leaves for garnish)
Dry ingredients
 4 cardamom pods
 2 tsp cumin seeds
 1 tbsp coriander seeds
 5 cm cinnamon stick
 4 cloves
 ½ tsp ground nutmeg
 ½ tsp ground turmeric
 ½ tsp white pepper
 1 tsp salt
For the curry
 2 tbsp peanut oil
 1 kg beef chuck (cut into chunks)
 2 400ml cans coconut milk
 2 tbsp fish sauce
 3 medium potatoes (peeled and cut into large pieces)

Directions

For the curry
1

Create the spice powder first. Heat a frying pan and add the cardamom, cumin sees, coriander seeds, cinnamon and cloves.

2

Dry fry for 1-2 minutes until the cumin starts to pop and jump around. Remove and add to a spice grinder or pestle & mortar. Grind the spices into a fine powder then stir in the paprika, nutmeg, turmeric, white pepper and salt.

3

Add the wet ingredients peanut oil to the pan and fry the peanuts for 1-2 minutes until brown. Remove and drain on paper towels to cool.

4

Using a stick blender or food processor or pestle & mortar, grind the peanuts, chillies, garlic, lemongrass, shallots, galangal and coriander into a paste. Add the powder and blend again to incorporate, adding a little water if it becomes too thick.

5

Pour the fish sauce over the beef and toss to combine. In a large pan over a medium heat, heat the peanut oil and then add the beef to the pan to fry for 4-5 minutes to brown. Add the paste and stir well to combine.

6

Cook for a further 5 minutes before adding 1/2 can coconut milk. Now turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Simmer vigorously for 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly to avoid sticking until the sauce is almost gone. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cans of coconut milk and 1 can full of water and again, bring to a boil.

7

Reduce the heat to low and simmer the curry for 1 1/2 hours, partially covered until the beef is soft. Add the potatoes and cook for a further 25 minutes until they're cooked through.

I serve mine with Jasmine rice and sprinkle over some fresh coriander leaves.

Beef Massaman Curry

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