Beef Massaman Curry

My favorite meal to order when I get Thai food changes all the time. I have to say that right now it is massaman curry. I love this stuff! To me, it is a perfect mix of Indian and Thai. It has the lighter and thinner coconut broth of a Thai curry, but has the pungent deep smells and flavors of Indian curry. The best way I had this dish was at Brown Sugar café in Boston. It was stewed and the beef had so much flavor! The meat was falling apart. This is the way we made it for some friends this past Friday. We got the recipe from chez pim. NOTE: I know I promised the new website would be up a few times already, but trust me; we are working hard on it! I feel that I can now say with confidence that the new site will be up on Friday!

When I made pad thai, I used prepared tamarind paste. I will not be using this product ever again. I was slightly grossed out by the paste, but this fresh tamarind was great! I was able to taste it raw and I really loved the flavor. I am happy that I found this at the store and can’t wait to use it again.

Ella helped out because she had tamarind trees in her back yard growing up in the Philippines.

They look kinda gross though don’t they?

We used Chuck for this. I cut these into chunks. We doubled Pim’s recipe.

The beef is marinated in coconut milk, ginger, and fish sauce. It is then simmered in this very marinade! We always grate ginger to be sure to remove all stringy bits.

The recipe calls for cilantro roots which I of course do not have access to. I have read in the past that if you use the lowest parts of the stalks, you can get close to the flavor you are looking for.

We didn’t have the best lemongrass, so we took what we could for the curry paste, and simmered the rest in a cup of chicken stock that we would later add to the stew. For more info on the useable parts of lemongrass, go here.

Ingredients for massaman curry paste. I really don’t like the shrimp paste that is sold on the island. I think it has gone bad to be honest, because it isn’t sealed and I can smell it when I walk by at the store. We used it once, and were sort of disgusted by it. Another reason I think it has gone bad, is that when I first used fish sauce, I was grossed out by it, but now after using it a few times, I enjoy the deep salty and complex flavor it gives and am able to smell and even taste it on its own, but the shrimp paste I can still not handle the smell. For these reasons, I did not get the shrimp paste for this curry paste and instead added extra fish sauce when I started cooking. The other subs were ginger for galangal, lime zest for kaffir lime zest, and the cilantro stems instead of roots that I mentioned before. We also used some fresh AND dried chiles instead of only dried.

You can use a blender or food processor for this, but Mandi likes to do it by hand. She mostly uses the knife, but also pounds it out with a spice crusher we have.

There is NOTHING like the smell of a fresh made curry paste. Nothing.

We called on everyone to gather round and help shell the peanuts.

There is a difference between coconut cream and coconut milk. This recipe calls for both.

I started frying the curry paste while they all shelled the peanuts.


Cook in oil over high heat constantly stirring for 2 to 3 minutes.

Then add the coconut cream. Be sure to stir well until completely combined before moving to the next step. Also, turn the heat down to achieve a very gentle simmer.

On to the tamarind. This was in warm water for 20 minutes.

Press the pulp through a mesh strainer to get all the good stuff but leave the seeds behind.

Whole shallots and some whole cardamom pods go in next. We substituted a bay leaf and dash of allspice for cardamom leaves.

Then add the beef. This was on a low simmer for a half hour in its marinade. Look how brown the coconut milk has turned! You just add the whole mess to the curry pot. There was a lot of fat floating to the top now, so I skimmed most of it off with a spoon.

Pim didn’t have potatoes in the recipe, but I have had it at restaurants, and we wanted to make sure to have enough food for everyone! The peanuts also went in with the potatoes. About 25 minutes later, everything was finished. I skimmed most of the cardamom pods out so that people wouldn’t confuse them for peanuts. I think if I make this again, I will shell out the cardamom.

This meal was SOOO GOOOOD!!!!! We made some jasmine rice to the package instructions, and the naan we made in this post.


Thanks to Pim for this awesome recipe. Here were my subs:

Bay leaf and pinch of allspice for cardamom leaf.
Lime zest for kefir lime zest.
Extra fish sauce later for no shrimp paste in the curry paste.
Fresh and dried chiles instead of all dried.
Ginger for galangal.
Cilantro stems instead of roots.
Added a cup of chicken stock simmered with the tough pieces of lemongrass. The lemongrass was strained.
Added potatoes.
Skimmed fat while simmering toward the end. Also skimmed cardamom.