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Massaman Curry

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Thai


Massaman Curry Paste

  • 60 gms large dried red chillies seeded; soaked in warm water and roughly chopped
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 1 ½ heads garlic
  • 1 large galangal knob
  • 3 stalks lemongrass only the pale part
  • 4-5 coriander roots with a bit of stalk
  • 60 gms roasted peanuts
  • 1 ½ tbsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tbsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tbsp cloves
  • ½ nutmeg
  • 3/4 th tbsp mace powder
  • 1 large cassia/cinnamon bark
  • 3 green cardamom

For the braising liquid:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large knob galangal; roughly chopped
  • 1 stalk lemongrass pale part; roughly chopped
  • 2 large red chillies; seeded and sliced
  • ½ red onion; chopped
  • 300 ml coconut cream
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock
  • 1/3 cup fish sauce
  • 100 gms palm sugar

For the curry:

  • 1 kg beef chuck steak; cut into 5-6 large pieces
  • 1 cup kecap manis
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200 ml coconut cream
  • 5-6 tbsp massaman curry paste
  • 2 shallots; diced
  • 70 gms pineapple; diced
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 large potatoes; boiled and cubed
  • 1-2 tbsp tamarind water
  • ½ cup toasted peanuts; crushed
  • Crispy shallots; for garnish
  • Coriander leaves; for garnish


Massaman curry paste:

  • Blitz the chillies, onion, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, roasted peanuts and coriander root to a coarse paste.
  • Grind the spices and add this to the paste along with a good pinch of salt.
  • Blitz again to get a smooth paste (you may need to add water).
  • Freeze in small batches.

To make the curry:

  • Marinate the beef pieces in kecap manis for a few hours or overnight.
  • Wipe off the excess sauce and keep aside to be braised.
  • To get the braising liquid going, heat 2 tbsp oil in a large vessel and add the onions, chilli, lemongrass and galangal. Cook to release the aromas for a couple of minutes and then coconut cream, water, stock, fish sauce and palm sugar.
  • Bring to boil and add the beef pieces to this. Cover and slow cook on the lowest heat possible till the beef has become really tender (took me about 1 ½ hours). Alternately, braise in the oven at 150°C till the meat is tender.
  • Meanwhile, 2 tbsp oil and coconut cream along with a good pinch of salt in another heavy based pan. As the cream separates and the oil starts to split, add the massaman curry paste and cook on high (with frequent stirring) for about 10 minutes. The aroma as the paste starts to cook is so aromatic. Reduce heat a bit and continue to cook the curry paste with frequent stirring till the oil starts to separate. Takes a fair bit of time so be patient.
  • Once the meat has cooked, allow the pieces to cool in the liquid, remove and cut into bite sized pieces. Strain the braising liquid and reserve the stock.
  • In another pan, heat the remaining oil and cook the shallots till golden. Add the pineapple pieces and continue to cook until it has softened and cooked out. Then add the palm sugar to get a caramel like mixture.
  • Add this to the curry paste and continue to cook till the oil starts to separate again. At this stage, add half of the strained braising liquid along with the fish sauce and tamarind water. Taste and season with salt if necessary; also balance out seasoning with fish sauce, tamarind water etc….
  • Add the boiled potatoes and the beef pieces and simmer on low heat. Add the remaining braising liquid and simmer till the meat and potatoes have warmed through.
  • To serve, spoon into a large bowl and garnish with crushed peanuts, crispy shallots and coriander leaves


The excess Massaman curry paste can be stored in the freezer in an airtight container for upto 3 months.