Massaman Curry Recipe (Thai Muslim Curry)

Massaman curry is a unique type of curry amongst the various Thai curries because it is more like an Indian curry using mainly dried spices for seasoning. Chicken is the most popular meat in this curry in the West but beef, lamb or even mutton is more common in Thailand. This curry is considered to be rather mild as the heat of the chilies are mellowed with the addition of the dried spices, coconut milk, onions, potatoes and peanuts. This fragrant hearty curry would certainly be welcome winter fare and could be served with a crusty loaf of Sourdough bread or roti and a glass of good Bordeaux wine (see our Massaman Curry blog post).


  • 1/2 lb. beef shoulder (chuck roast) or stew beef, sliced
  • 3 tablespoon whole raw peanuts
  • 4 cup water
  • 1 medium-sized potato, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil (soybean, peanut or corn oil)
  • 3-4 tablespoon Massaman curry paste, homemade or ready-made (we recommend excellent Nittaya brand)
  • 1 1/2-2 cups coconut milk Chaokoh brand coconut milk
  • 6 whole Thai cardamom seeds, cracked and dry roasted*
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon stick, dry roasted*
  • 2 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon palm sugar
  • 2 tablespoon tamarind water
  • 1/4 large white onion, cut into pieces (or 12 peeled whole white pearl onions)


  1. Open the coconut milk and scoop the thick coconut cream from the top and set aside (see more details about coconut cream).
  2. Bring the 4 cup of water, beef and peanuts to boil, skimming the scum from the surface for about 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and continue to cook at a low boil uncovered, for approximately one hour. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Separately, bring the potatoes to boil in enough water to cover for approximately 20 minutes until just slightly under-cooked (al dente). Drain and discard the potato water (or reserve to make your own sourdough mix!). Set the potatoes aside. While the beef is cooking you may make the homemade Massaman Curry Paste.
  4. Heat oil in a large wok (or other large heavy bottom pan) over medium heat, add the curry paste and cook briefly until fragrant. Add the reserved coconut cream and fry until it begins to separate, stirring constantly. Add the boiled beef and peanuts in its broth and remainder of coconut milk, fish sauce, palm sugar, tamarind, cinnamon stick, potatoes and onion. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook 10 minutes.
  5. Adjust seasoning with fish sauce, palm sugar and tamarind water to taste. Massaman curry should be slightly sweet with a very subtle sour note from the tamarind. Serve with pickled ginger or cucumber relish as condiments.

Serves 4. This curry is even better the next day, reheated, so make double portion and freeze any left-overs.

*Learn how to properly dry roast spices for Thai cooking from Thai cooking instructor Kasma Loha-Unchit.

Main image © Harntongkul 2010; Recipe & other images © Temple of Thai 2010

Nittaya Curry Paste

Short on time but still want to make delicious Massaman?

Preparing your own curry paste gives the best results but there isn't always time...

Nittaya curry paste is a quick and simple alternative. It's the best prepared curry paste we've tried and as a fellow curry lover we're sure you'll agree.

"intensely delicious curries without the effort." ~

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