I first had this dish in a local Thai family restaurant and found it to be tasty, not too spicy and a refreshing combination of spicy and creamy. The original and authentic Thai recipe had potatoes, onions and Thai eggplant added in the last stages of cooking (I would recommend adding potatoes and onions after 1 1/2 hours, then add the eggplant 5 minutes before turning off the heat. The eggplant cooks very quickly and will probably melt away in the curry if added earlier. The version that I cooked did not have the vegetables since I preferred to cook it without these extras. Please add the onions, potatoes and eggplant if you wish.

I have tried the supermarket bought Thai paste and did not find them palatable. I prefer to make my own massaman curry paste. I have tried various combinations of spices and ingredients after looking at a variety of recipes in books and online. This is the version that works for me.


450 grams beef steak, cut up into smaller pieces if you prefer.

For the curry paste

6 cloves garlic,peeled

1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and cut into smaller pieces

5 finger chillies (amend this according to how spicy you like the curry)

2-3 kaffir lime leaves

2 stalk of lemon grass, cut into smaller pieces

2 tablespoons fish sauce

1/2 teaspoon of lime juice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

50 mls water

1 medium shallot, skin removed and cubed

1 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1 tablespoon brown sugar

Dry spices:

5 cardamon pods, de-seeded, 1 teaspoon black peppercorn, 5 cloves, 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon coriander seeds). Roast the dry spices in a shallow or frying pan for a few minutes, stirring regularly until they are turning brown. Remove from heat.

Add all the ingredients into an electric blender and pulse for 1-2 minutes, mixing well to allow all the ingredients to achieve a paste consistency. Do not add too much water to the blender, just enough to facilitate the blender blades to move smoothly. I recommended 50 mls of water but use less or more as appropriate.

Some of the ingredients to make the massaman curry paste
The blended paste
Add the paste directly into the wok or medium sized cooking pan. Oil not necessary since the paste already has oil in it. Stir and cook for 2 minutes
Add the beef steak to the paste. Allow to cook for 2 minutes, turn over and allow the other side to cook (to seal in the flavours of the spices)
Add the coconut milk to the pot, stir and fry for 5 minutes, stirring frequently
Stir well, add 200 mls of water and simmer to cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs depending on the tenderness of the cut of beef used

After an hour of cooking, taste the sauce and add either a few dollops of fish sauce, as required. When I was cooking this, I had to add more fish sauce and a small amount of brown sugar to achieve the right taste for me.

Ready to serve

Despite the long preparation and cooking time of this dish, it is truly worth the time spent on it. You can use chicken rather than beef (if you prefer). Cut down the cooking time to 30 minutes if using chicken since it cooks faster than beef.

The massaman curry can be served with plain boiled rice or roti. I accompanied it with fresh green salad leaves and a teaspoon of coconut chutney. I will be making the coconut chutney in a subsequent blog.

I hope you find some time to cook this delicious and authentic flavoured massaman curry for your family and/or friends.