Thai Massaman Beef Curry

Thai massaman curry in a bowl

 Patrice Hauser/Getty Images

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 10 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
716 Calories
44g Fat
35g Carbs
48g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 716
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 44g 56%
Saturated Fat 24g 118%
Cholesterol 136mg 45%
Sodium 801mg 35%
Total Carbohydrate 35g 13%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 6g
Protein 48g
Vitamin C 23mg 116%
Calcium 85mg 7%
Iron 9mg 49%
Potassium 1384mg 29%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This Thai Massaman Beef Curry recipe is sumptuous and very flavorful. It's a homemade recipe with no need for any store-bought curry paste or powder. The ingredient list may seem long, but the sauce is quite easy to make. Just toss all sauce ingredients into the curry pot as you prepare them, and simmer together with the meat.

Note that lamb and chicken are often traditionally substituted for beef and that all types of meat make for a delicious Massaman curry. Bay leaves are normally used in Massaman curry rather than the harder-to-find makrut lime leaves seen in many Thai curry dishes. Other vegetables that are good in this curry include eggplant, green beans, and tomato.


  • 2 1/2 cups good-quality chicken stock, or beef stock

  • 1 to 2 pounds beef, lamb, or chicken, cut into cubes or thin pieces

  • 1/3 cup diced onion

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 1 to 2 potatoes, sliced into chunks

  • A handful of fresh cilantro, or basil

Curry sauce:

  • 1 thumb-piece ginger, grated

  • 4 to 5 cloves garlic

  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced, upper pieces reserved, or 2 to 3 tablespoons frozen prepared lemongrass

  • 1 red chile, sliced, or 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon chili flakes or cayenne pepper

  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts or cashews, plus extra for garnish if desired

  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed

  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper

  • 1 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1/8 teaspoon cardamon

  • 1 teaspoon tamarind, or 1 tablespoon lime juice

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 3/4 teaspoon shrimp paste (available by the jar at Asian stores)

  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (not light)

Steps to Make It

Tip: In this recipe, the meat has been pre-boiled for more tenderness—it takes longer, but the resulting taste is worth it. If you're in a hurry, you can easily cut back on this step. If simmering meat 30 minutes or less, leave off the lid or reduce stock to 2 cups.

  1. Place stock in a large pot over high heat. Add the meat, onion and bay leaves. If using fresh lemongrass, add the upper leftover stalk pieces.

  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low to a simmer. Cover or ​partially cover with a lid and simmer 40 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until meat is tender or near-tender.

  3. Add all curry sauce ingredients, stirring with each addition. If desired, hold back a few tablespoons of the coconut milk for serving.

  4. Add the potatoes. Return to a boil, then continue simmering 30 more minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

  5. Taste-test the curry, adding more fish sauce for increased flavor/saltiness, or more chili if you want it spicier. If too sour, add a little more sugar. If too salty or sweet for your taste, add a touch more tamarind or lime juice. If too spicy, add more coconut milk (regular dairy cream or milk will work too).

  6. Transfer to a serving bowl, or spoon onto individual plates or bowls. Top with fresh coriander or basil plus some additional nuts if desired. Drizzle over reserved coconut milk (if desired), and serve with Thai jasmine rice

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