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Thai Beef Massaman Curry, Fragrant and Spicy

A beef massaman curry is a slow cooked Thai dish that is fragrant with spices, sweet, sour and earthy but it is not too hot.

Portrait close up image of a Thai beef massaman curry served with jasmine rice in a white bowl

Thai Beef and Onion Curry!

When many people think of Thai Curries, we think in terms of colours. There is however a whole world of other Thai Curries out there.

I am rather fond of the odd curry or two as you may now if you spend any time here. My Thai Green Chicken Curry and my Thai Red Duck Curry are among my favourites!

This Beef Massaman recipe features flavours imported to Thailand in the middle of the 19th century.

As a result, it kind of sits on its own as a Thai curry.

Fragrant spices like Mace, Cardamom and Cloves are defining but unusual features in a Massaman Curry Paste.

They are fused with more common Thai flavours like lemongrass, shrimp paste and dried chillies.

The result is the most wonderfully warming and earthy, sweet, sour and salty dish.

I have other versions too! So if this is your mojo, then check out my prawn massaman curry and a vegan tofu massaman curry.

Overhead portrait image of a Thai beef massaman curry served with jasmine rice in a white bowl

Is It Worth Making My Own Curry Paste?

This is a question that realistically, only you can answer.

I am kind of biased, I personally like to make my own curry pastes. My Massaman Curry Paste Recipe is superb, but I would say that right!

They are time-consuming and can be more expensive to make than store-bought varieties.

But the upside is a vibrancy in taste and flavour that I think is missing in most store-bought pastes.

But if you want to use store-bought, knock yourself out, find a brand that you like and own it.

It really does reduce the prep time for this recipe!

Portrait close up image of a homemade massaman curry paste surrounded by ingredients

Alternative Cooking Methods.

This recipe is an unashamedly long and slow recipe, it is all about letting that beef slowly break down.

This allows the ingredients to develop into a rich and complex flavour sensation.

You can hurry this recipe up in a pressure cooker if you like.

Just like the stovetop version of this recipe, I would advocate adding the potatoes and onions near the end.

The best technique I have found for the Instant Pot is to follow my instructions but use the saute mode of the IP to fry off the curry paste.

Then Cook under high pressure for 30 minutes. Then quickly release the pressure add in the new potatoes (do not par boil) and onions and cook for 4 minutes.

Finally, allow the pressure to release naturally.

And if you want to use a slow cooker, fry off the curry paste, then chuck it all in and cook on low for 8 hours!

For the best results, use the stovetop.

Overhead square image of a Thai beef massaman curry served with jasmine rice in a white bowl
Yield: 2 Servings

Beef Massaman Curry Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 25 minutes

A beef massaman curry is a relatively unusual Thai curry in terms of its flavourings borrowing much from the Malay peninsular. It is spicy but mild in terms of chilli and all sorts of delicious!


  • 300 g Beef Shin
  • 1 Tsp Cooking Oil
  • 50 g Massaman Curry Paste
  • 150 ml Coconut Milk
  • 200 g New Potatoes
  • 2.5cm Cassia Bark
  • 2 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Star Anise
  • 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 50 g Tamarind Pulp
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 100 g Onion
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 50 g Peanuts


  1. Cut the beef into 2-3cm cubes
  2. Heat the oil in a medium pan over a medium high heat.
  3. When the oil is hot add the curry paste and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add the beef and coconut milk and stir to combine.
  5. Pour over enough water to just cover the beef.
  6. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low, add the bay leaves and a lid and simmer for 3 hours.
  7. 15 minutes before the three hours is up heat a pan of salted water to a boil.
  8. Cut the potatoes into equal sized pieces around 1.5cm.
  9. Add the potatoes to the salted water and cook for 10 minutes.
  10. Finely slice the onion into half moon shapes.
  11. Heat a dry frying pan over a medium high heat and toast the cardamom pods, star anise and cassia bark.
  12. After the beef has had its three hours add in the sliced onion, toasted spices, fish sauce, tamarind pulp, brown sugar, and par boiled potatoes.
  13. Cook on for another 10-12 minutes until the onions have softened.
  14. Add in the peanuts and allow them to warm through which should take no more than a minute.


Serve with jasmine rice and freshly chopped spring onion greens.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 1005Total Fat: 62gSaturated Fat: 28gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 27gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 1745mgCarbohydrates: 63gFiber: 7gSugar: 26gProtein: 54g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!

Reginald Barfoot

Sunday 24th of January 2021

Just done a chicken version of the beef massaman. Absolutely lovely

Brian Jones

Wednesday 27th of January 2021

Glad you enjoyed it.

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