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    Beef Massaman Curry

    Beef Massaman Curry stands out in Thai cuisine. It’s not the usual fiery, run-for-water kind of spicy curry. I love how it combines tender chunks of beef with a rich, creamy sauce and aromatic spices.

    It’s a comforting meal that combines the warmth of cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise with the creamy sweetness of coconut milk. It’s unlike any other Thai dish I’ve tried, and it’s always a hit when I serve it over my favorite warm jasmine rice.

    My Beef Massaman Curry is deliciously rich and flavorful, featuring tender beef chunks in a coconut milk based gravy.

    If you ask me, what my favorite Asian cuisine is, Thai comes very high on the list. I just simply can’t get enough of their fiery curries, like my all-time go-to Green Chicken Curry and Red Curry, which I make with shrimp or beef.

    When I first tried their Massaman Curry, I was pleasantly surprised by how the flavors felt so comforting and familiar. The blend of spices, the creamy coconut milk, and the tender beef all came together in a way that reminded me of the Indian dishes I love. This curry is slow-cooked for hours, allowing the beef chunks to braise into tender morsels, resulting in a very rich and creamy sauce. 

    What is Massaman Curry

    Massaman Curry is a unique Thai dish with an intriguing history. It originated in Thailand, but was influenced by Persian and Indian cuisines, brought over by traders. The name “Massaman” comes from “Mussulman,” an old word for Muslims, showing its Persian and Indian roots.

    This curry is known for its rich, creamy texture, and the use of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves, which are not typical in traditional Thai cooking. These spices give Massaman Curry its distinct and aromatic flavor. It’s usually made with beef, but chicken and lamb can also be used. Pork, though very commonly used in Thailand, is not traditionally found in Massaman Curry due to its Muslim origins, which prohibit the consumption of pork. Potatoes and peanuts are common additions, adding a comforting and nutty element.

    Bowl of massaman curry served with rice.

    In 2011, CNNGo named Massaman Curry the number one most delicious food in the world. Even though a readers’ survey ranked it at number ten, it returned to the top spot in their 2018 update.

    Saying all this, how can I resist making my own delicious version of this amazing Thai curry?

    Ingredients Needed

    Oil – I use this for searing the beef.

    Beef – I find that chuck roast is the best cut of beef for any stew or curry. It’s well-marbled, so it has enough fat to become tender and flavorful during the slow cooking process. Besides chuck roast, I also like using brisket or short ribs for Massaman Curry. I sometimes swap the protein and make chicken Massaman Curry.

    Salt and pepper – To season the beef.

    Coconut milk – Divided, it adds creaminess and richness to the curry.

    Massaman curry paste – I like Mae Ploy or Maesri brand for authentic flavor.

    Spices – Cardamom, cinnamon stick and star anise add aromatic warmth and depth of flavor.

    Water – Used for simmering the curry.

    Fish sauce – Adds umami and saltiness.

    Vegetables – Potatoes (peeled and cut into chunks) and shallots (cut into chunks)

    Sugar – Balances the flavors.

    Tamarind paste – Adds tanginess .

    Cilantro – For garnish.

    Beef Massaman Curry Recipe

    Heat oil and sear beef: First, I heat the oil in a heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. I season the beef pieces with salt and pepper and sear them on all sides until brown, doing it in batches to avoid crowding. Then, I plate them out.

    Seared beef chunks on a plate.

    Cook coconut milk and curry paste: In the same pot, I add about a half cup of coconut milk and cook it for 30-40 seconds. Then, I add the Massaman curry paste and cook it for 3-4 minutes.

    Combine beef with paste and spices: I add the beef chunks back into the pot and mix well with the curry paste. I add cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, and the remaining coconut milk from the first can. Then, I add 1 cup of water and fish sauce, mixing well.

    Beef added into the curry.

    Simmer: I cover and simmer gently for 2 to 2½ hours, or until the beef is fork-tender, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. I add a dash of water if the curry gets too thick.

    Add potatoes, shallots, and remaining coconut milk: I add the potato and shallot chunks along with the remaining can of coconut milk and cook for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.

    Potatoes and shallots added into the curry.

    Add sugar and tamarind paste: I add sugar and tamarind paste, cooking for 2 to 3 minutes, then taste and adjust for salt.

    Garnish and serve: I garnish the curry with cilantro and serve it with fresh, warm jasmine rice. Roughly chopped peanuts goes great as a garnish as well.

    Final product after cooking.

    Alpana’s Tips

    Sear in Batches: When I sear the beef, I do it in batches to avoid overcrowding the pot. This ensures each piece browns properly, without just steaming.

    Use Quality Curry Paste: Some people make the curry paste from scratch, but it’s not really necessary. Most of the ingredients are not readily available, and it can be quite time-consuming. I find that Mae Ploy and Maesri brands offer excellent curry pastes that deliver authentic and robust flavors, making the cooking process much easier and just as delicious.

    Simmer Slowly: Slow-cooking the curry allows the beef to become tender and lets the flavors meld beautifully.

    Taste and Adjust: I always taste the curry before serving and adjust the seasoning as needed. A little more fish sauce or tamarind paste can make a big difference.

    Prevent Sticking: I stir occasionally while simmering to prevent the curry from sticking to the bottom of the pot. I add a splash of water if it becomes too thick.

    Use Full-Fat Coconut Milk: For a richer and creamier texture, I use full-fat coconut milk.

    Close up shot of a bowl of massaman beef curry.

    There you go, give my easy version of Thai Massaman Curry a try! It’s considered the number one most delicious food in the world for a reason.

    Beef Massaman Curry, on our Gypsy Plate… enjoy!

    Bowl of massaman beef curry atop the Gypsy Plate.

    More great curry recipes:
    Jamaican Curry Chicken
    Japanese Beef Curry
    Trinidadian Chicken Curry
    Vietnamese Chicken Curry
    Indian Methi Chicken
    Pork Vindaloo
    Katsu Curry

    Featured image for beef massaman curry recipe.

    Beef Massaman Curry

    Yield: 6 servings
    Prep Time: 15 minutes
    Cook Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
    Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes

    My Beef Massaman Curry is deliciously rich and flavorful, featuring tender beef chunks in a coconut milk based gravy.


    • 1.5 Tbsp oil
    • 2.5 pounds chuck roast, cut into large chunks
    • salt to taste
    • pepper to taste
    • 2 cans coconut milk, divided
    • 5-6 Tbsp Massaman curry paste (Mae Ploy brand)
    • 3 cardamom pods
    • 1 large cinnamon stick
    • 1 star anis
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 Tbsp fish sauce
    • 1 pound potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
    • 2 shallots, cut into chunks
    • 1 Tbsp sugar
    • 1 Tbsp tamarind paste
    • cilantro, for garnish


    1. Heat oil in heavy bottomed pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the beef pieces with salt and pepper and sear them on all sides till brown all over. Do it in batches so as to not crowd the beef. Remove to a plate.
    2. In the same pot, add about ½ cup of coconut milk, and cook and reduce it for 30-40 seconds. Add Massaman curry paste and cook it for 3-4 minutes.
    3. Add beef chunks back and mix well with the curry paste. Add cardamom, cinnamon, star anis and remaining coconut milk from the first can. Add fish sauce and 1 cup of water, mix well. Cover and simmer gently for 2 to 2½ hours or until the beef is fork tender. Stir it occasionally to avoid anything sticking to the bottom of the pan. You can add a dash of water if the curry is getting too thick.
    4. Add potato and shallot chunks along with remaining 1 can of coconut milk and cook for another 30 minutes, or until potato is tender. Add sugar and tamarind paste. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust for salt.
    5. Garnish with cilantro and serve it with fresh, warm jasmine rice. (You can also garnish it with roughly chopped peanuts.)

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

    Picture of Alpana, blogger and recipe developer at GypsyPlate

    Welcome to GypsyPlate! I'm Alpana, former wordwide tour manager and professional caterer, now full time blogger. I love exploring cuisines from around the world, and my recipes have been featured on sites such as MSN, Parade, Brit + Co, CNET and AOL. You can explore my entire collection of sortable recipes in my Recipe Index or learn more about me here.

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