Recipes from around the world – Massaman (Southern Thai) Curry

One great thing about travel for me is that you get to experience cuisine from all around the world. Even when you can’t afford to eat out however, you can still give some foreign dishes a try by cooking them yourself at home. I am currently in Lagos, Portugal, and although I have loved eating out and tasting some of the local Portuguese food here, I thought I’d try something different today, and cook myself the Southern Thai curry dish of Massaman. Below is the recipe I used for anyone else who would like to try it out too. This is the great thing about cooking the dishes your self… even if you can’t experience your holidays in Thailand right now, you can still taste a bit of the local culture while you are sat at home!

Massaman curry for those who don’t already know, is a Thai curry, originating around the South of Thailand (think Koh Samui area), that has flavours reminiscent of Indian curries. Below is the recipe.


Beef Curry Stage 1

  • 1kg stewing beef, cut into cubes
  • 5 tbsp Masaman curry paste
  • 3 tbsp peanut oil
  • 8 cardamom pods
  • 12 small pickling onions or shallots, peeled
  • 3 garlic clove, finely sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 litre coconut milk

Beef Curry Stage 2

  • 12 small new potatoes, scrubbed (if some of the are large cut them half)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Thai fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp tamarind water*
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 tbsp palm sugar or brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp whole roasted peanuts
  • 6 tbsp basil leaves (holy basil preferable)


  1. Beef Curry Stage 1: Place the diced steak in a bowl and toss it with the curry paste (vary the amount according to taste) so that it is well coated.
  2. Place the oil in a large saucepan and when it is hot add the cardamom, shallots or pickling onions, garlic, cinnamon stick and star anise. Cook until it is aromatic and the shallots or onions are golden.
  3. Add the beef coated in the paste and cook for 1-2 minutes so that all sides of the meat are sealed and the mixture is aromatic. Pour in 500ml of the coconut milk and around 250ml of water or just enough to cover the meat well. Bring the curry to a strong simmer then reduce it to a slow simmer. Leave the curry to cook gently for 1-1/12 hours until the meat is tender and the curry is thick. *You can prepare the curry up to this stage and store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 48 hours before finishing the cooking.
  4. Beef Curry Stage 2: Pour in the remaining milk and add the new potatoes to the curry. Return the curry to a steady simmer and cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  5. Remove the curry from the heat and stir in the fish sauce, tamarind water, lime juice, sugar, peanuts and basil leaves, until well incorporated.
  6. To Serve: Place the curry in a large serving bowl and sprinkle it with peanuts and serve it with cooked jasmine rice or distribute the curry among 6 plates with the rice.

*Tamarind Water: Place a teaspoon of tamarind paste (available from most East Asian grocers) in a container and pour over 2-3 tbsp of boiling water and leave it to stand for 15 minutes. Strain the water and press out any extra juice from the tamarind.

(Recipe from

So maybe Koh Samui holidays is not something you can do right now. Or maybe you’re all booked up, and are counting down the days until you leave. Either way, while you are at home, or even if you are travelling right now, it can be a great way to experience another culture by cooking one of their local dishes. If you give it a try let me know!

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