Massaman Curry

massaman curry
Photo: Bryan Gardner
Prep Time:
1 hrs 5 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 15 mins
Serves 6 to 8; Makes 12 cups

While it's unclear whether the origin of this Thai curry dish is Muslim, Indian, or Malaysian, one thing is for sure: it's absolutely delicious. Massaman curry paste is chock-full of fragrant spices, from coriander and cumin to cardamom and cinnamon, and gives the beef-and-potato stew a rich flavor base.


  • 2 tablespoons safflower oil

  • 3 pounds whole chuck roast, cut crosswise into 2-inch-thick steaks

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 5 yellow onions (1 onion halved and sliced, and 4 onions cut into 1-inch-thick wedges)

  • ¼ cup Massaman curry paste, such as Maesri

  • 2 cans (13.5 ounces each) coconut milk, such as Thai Kitchen

  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce, such as Red Boat

  • 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate, mixed with 3 tablespoons water

  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 5 cardamom pods, lightly crushed

  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts, chopped, plus more for serving

  • 5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • Cooked jasmine rice and mixed fresh herbs, such as basil, cilantro, and mint, for serving

  • Thai Cucumber Relish, for serving


  1. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high. Season beef with salt and pepper. Working in batches, sear beef, flipping once, until deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a bowl.

  2. Remove fat from pot and wipe out any blackened bits. Reduce heat to medium, then stir in sliced onion and curry paste, scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, 5 minutes. Slowly stir in 1 can coconut milk and 1/2 cup water.

  3. Cut beef into 1-inch chunks; return to pot along with any juices. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, 1 hour.

  4. Remove lid and stir in fish sauce, tamarind mixture, brown sugar, bay leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, peanuts, potatoes, and remaining onion wedges and 1 can coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper. Return to a simmer and continue to cook, partially covered, until meat and potatoes are tender, about 1 hour more. Check seasoning and add more salt or fish sauce if desired. Serve, with rice, herbs, and cucumber relish.

Cook's Notes

This recipe makes enough for leftovers. Freeze half, then reheat for a delicious meal with long-simmered flavor any night of the week.

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