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Beef Massaman (1 of 1)

If you were stranded on a desert island and you had only one type of food to eat for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

For me, I think it has to be Thai food.  Chocolate is probably a serious contender but that only satisfies my sweet tooth.  Thai on the other hand? Hmmmm the sweet/spicy/zesty/creamy combinations are endless.  I love a quick green thai chicken curry for a midweek meal, but a slow cooked curry with lovely juicy chunks of meat that fall apart and the tastiest saucy potatoes? Now that’s something else entirely!!

I made the curry paste for this meal from scratch.  It’s pretty simple to do, but shop bought curry paste works really well too.  I’ve used Massaman, Korma and Madras pastes (yes, I know the last two are Indian rather than Thai, it was what I had in at the time) and they all tasted great.  If you do go with a shop bought paste, I’d recommend you reduce the amount to about 4 tbsp, as shop bought it usually more concentrated.

Also, if you’re making this for kids or people who don’t like hot food, you can leave the chillies out of the paste, and just throw some chopped chillies in at the end, once you’ve dished out the non-chilli portions.  It doesn’t give quite the same depth of heat, but is a good compromise rather than making two pots of curry.

Beef Massaman Curry (Serves 5-6):

Massaman Paste (makes about 6 tbsp):

  • 1 chopped red onion
  • 2 or 3 red chillies (depending on how hot you like it), roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 sticks of lemongrass, outer leaves removed,  softer inside chopped finely
  • 5cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste (optional, also it’s generally gluten free, but best to check)
  • 3 tsp fish sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 10 fresh coriander/cilantro stalks (you’ll be using the leaves later to server, 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
  • 1kg braising beef, chopped into chunks
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 400ml beef stock – 2 stock cubes with water is fine (use kallo beef bouillon cubes for gluten free)
  • 400ml can coconut milk (it’s usually gluten free, but double check)
  • 2 large red or white potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • Juice of 1 lime

To Serve:

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


  1. Place all the paste ingredients in a food processor or mini chopper and blend until it forms a paste.  Set aside.
  2. 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’m a bit too lazy for that.  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.
  3. Once the beef has cooked for 5 mins, turn down the heat a little and add in the curry paste.  Give it a stir to coat the beef and let it cook for a couple of minutes.  Then 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).  Give it a stir every so often.  If it’s starting to look dry you can add in some more beef stock or water.
  4. 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).
  5. 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 chiilies and a wedge of lime.

***Tip***Any leftovers can be cooled, covered and frozen.  Then defrosted and reheated in the microwave until piping hot.