Beef Massaman Curry

Slow Cooked Beef Massaman Curry - Rich, fall-apart beef in a spicy homemade sauce with new potatoes. Perfect comfort food!
Course Dinner
Cuisine Asian, Thai
Keyword Any Time Of the year, Big Batch Cooking, Curry Paste from scratch, Family Meal, homemade curry paste, how to make a massaman curry
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 45 minutes
Servings 6 people
Author Nicky Corbishley


Massaman Paste - makes about 6 tbsp:

  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 3 mild red chillies roughly chopped (or use fewer chillies, depending on how hot you like it) - I use Fresno chillies
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • 2 sticks of lemongrass outer leaves removed, softer inside chopped finely (or replace with 2 tsp lemongrass paste)
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste optional, also it's generally gluten free, but best to check
  • 3 tsp fish sauce ,make sure it's a gluten free brand if needed
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • small bunch fresh coriander/cilantro stalks you'll be using the leaves later to serve, so just wrap them in a bit of damp tissue to keep them fresh
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Other curry ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1.5 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
  • 2 1/4 lb (1kg) braising beef (beef chuck) chopped into chunks
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 2/3 cup (400ml) beef stock - 2 stock cubes with water is fine use kallo beef bouillon cubes for gluten free
  • 14 oz (400g) can coconut milk it's usually gluten free, but double check
  • 1 lb (500g) baby new potatoes (slice any bigger ones in half)
  • Juice of 1 lime

To Serve:

  • Boiled rice
  • Chopped fresh coriander/cilantro
  • Chopped red chillies
  • Lime wedges


  • Place all the paste ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper and blend until it forms a paste. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large pan. Toss the chopped beef in the cornflour, salt and pepper. Fry the meat in the oil for about 5 mins on medium to high heat. You can do this in batches, but I find that if you put the meat in, and leave it alone for a few minutes before you stir it, you'll get a nice dark colour on the beef. The beef will probably stick a bit to the pan, so you might need to give it a little scrape with a spatula.
  • Once the beef has cooked for 5 mins, turn down the heat a little and add in the spice paste you made earlier. Give it a stir to coat the beef and let it cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Add in the beef stock and coconut milk. Give everything a stir (make sure you give any bits stuck at the bottom of the pan a scrape), place the lid on and gently simmer on a low heat for 1 hour 45 mins (alternatively you can place in the oven at about 160C/320F). Give it a stir every so often. If it's starting to look dry you can add in some more beef stock or water.
  • After the 1 hour 45 mins, add in the potatoes, give it a stir and cook for a further 25 - 30 mins until the potatoes are tender (this is a good time to start cooking your rice too).
  • Take out of the oven and mix in the lime juice. Serve the curry on a bed of rice with a sprinkling of coriander/cilantro, fresh chillies and a wedge of lime.


Best cut of beef for Beef Massaman Curry:

  • Chuck steak (braising steak) – comes from the forequarter- Consisting of parts of the neck, shoulder blade, and upper arm.
    • It’s a tough but very flavorful cut of meat. It has a lot of connective tissue, which needs long slow cooking to break down and become tender. Cut into bite-size chunks, or you can use bigger chunks and shred the beef into strips.
  • Silverside (bottom round) – comes from the hindquarter – just above the back leg
    • It’s a leaner, inexpensive cut of meat with little marbling. The lack of fat means it doesn’t have as much flavour as chuck steak, so make sure you use good quality stock (as well as the coconut milk) to cook it in. It’s good for slow cooking, but must be cooked with moisture/liquid so doesn’t dry out and become tough.

What type of potatoes to use?

I like to use baby new potatoes in this, but you can use fingerlings or larger potatoes. Ideally use a waxy potato that will hold together better during cooking. Charlotte, Jersey Royals and Yukon Gold all work great - simply wash and chop into big chunks (no need to peel).

Can I make Massaman Curry Gluten Free?

Yes! Make sure you use gluten free stock cubes (I like Kallo Gluten free beef stock cubes)
Also check you're using gluten free fish sauce, shrimp paste and coconut milk.

Can I freeze Massaman Curry?

Yes, any leftovers of this curry can be cooled, covered and frozen. Then defrosted overnight in the refrigerator and reheated in a pan (stirring often) or microwave until piping hot throughout.

Can I store the homemade Massaman Paste?

Yes, the sauce should be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It should keep for about a week.

Can I use a shop bought paste instead of making my own?

Yes - although shop bought pastes are usually stronger. So use about 4tbsp instead of the 6tsp of homemade paste. Also check it's a gluten free brand if needed!

Can I make Massaman Curry in the Slow Cooker?

Yes, sear the coated beef first add in the spice paste, coconut milk and stock as per the regular instructions. Then transfer to a slow cooker to continue cooking.
I'd recommend cooking this for 4 hours on high or 6-7 hours on low. You can add the potatoes in at the beginning, or if you want them to be slightly firmer, add them in halfway through the cooking time.
Cooking in the oven reduces the sauce more than in the slow cooker, so you may also want to reduce the amount of stock by around 180ml-200ml (3/4 cup). It’s a good idea to keep an eye on it if you’re going for this less-liquidy version – just to make sure it doesn’t dry out.
Nutritional information is per serving, not including rice.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 507kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 43g | Fat: 27g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 113mg | Sodium: 799mg | Potassium: 1302mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 234IU | Vitamin C: 51mg | Calcium: 82mg | Iron: 7mg
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