Easy Beef Massaman Curry (Rich & Authentic Flavor)
Thai Beef Massaman Curry: Perfect for Busy Weeknights. This easy recipe brings together the convenience of store-bought massaman curry paste with the rich, authentic flavors of traditional home cooking. With just a few handy tips and simple steps, you can savor a quick and delicious meal that tastes like an authentic curry made from scratch.
Thai cuisine is undoubtedly a favorite among Asian food lovers, coming in a close second to Korean food.
One dish that I frequently turn to when craving a rich and comforting curry is Beef Massaman curry. It’s my go-to Thai curry for its depth of flavor and the warmth it brings to any meal.
If making curry paste from scratch sounds hard, don’t worry. This Beef Massaman curry recipe is super easy and quick because it uses a curry paste you can buy from the store.
I’ll share some easy tips to make the store-bought paste taste just like homemade. These tricks complete with a step-by-step video guide will help you make a curry that’s rich, authentic, and full of flavor, all while saving time.
What is Massaman curry?
Massaman curry is a special dish in Thai food that’s different from other curries. The sauce has a lot of spices like cumin, cinnamon, and cardamom, which make it smell and taste unique.
These spices are similar to the ones used in Indian food, giving Massaman curry a warm, deep flavor. It also uses coconut milk, making the massaman curry sauce creamy and a bit sweet.
This curry often has beef, potatoes, onions, and peanuts. This mix of ingredients makes it filling and adds different textures.
Unlike other Thai curries, Massaman is not very spicy. It’s milder, so if you don’t like too much heat, this curry might be perfect for you.
What I love most about Massaman curry is the story it tells about bringing different cultures together. It started with the Muslim traders in the 17th century, which is why it’s called “Massaman,” meaning “Muslim curry.” But it quickly became a part of Thai cooking, mixing Thai and Persian ways of making food.
This mix creates a curry that’s rich, comforting, and really stands out as a meal full of flavor. It’s a great example of how food can connect different cultures and make something delicious that everyone can enjoy.
Finding the Best Store-Bought Massaman Curry Paste
Massaman curry paste mixes many flavors, including lemongrass, red chili, shallot, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, coriander (also known as cilantro), cumin, garlic, galangal, and shrimp paste. Usually, these ingredients are crushed together to blend their flavors fully.
While making your curry paste fresh is awesome, it does take a lot of time to find all the ingredients and a bit of hard work to pound them just right. But, you can still get a great taste with canned paste from the store, especially if you follow a few of my simple tricks.
With so many brands available, you might wonder which one to choose for the best flavor. My top pick is the Maesri brand.
This small can packs a big punch, offering a rich, aromatic, and almost smoky taste that gets pretty close to what you’d make at home. Luckily most well-stocked local groceries carries this brand or check our Asian markets.
My Best Tips for Authentic Taste
Make your store-bought Massaman curry paste even better with these simple tips. Go from good to great and get that authentic Thai restaurant flavor at home.
- Boost the Aroma with Extra Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom pods, and cloves can really lift the aroma of your curry. Toast these spices for a bit before you mix them with the curry paste. This simple step can make your Massaman curry fragrant and taste amazing.
- Just the Right Amount of curry paste: You only need 3 tablespoons of the curry paste for your dish. Save the rest by storing it in the freezer for next time.
- Wondering where to find Maesri curry paste? Check out Asian markets or well-stocked local grocery stores like Wegmans and Whole Foods, especially on the East Coast of the U.S.
- If you can’t find it there, look online on sites like Amazon.
- Don’t Forget the Tamarind Puree: Even just a little bit of tamarind puree can make a big difference. It adds a special touch that you shouldn’t miss.
- Peanuts Make It Perfect: Peanuts add the authenticity to Massaman curry, giving it a rich taste and a nice, nutty crunch. Don’t leave them out.
- Choosing the Best Beef for Massaman Curry: For this curry, beef stew meat, particularly beef chuck cut into slightly larger chunks, is the top choice. It contains the ideal balance of fat and offers the perfect texture for the dish.
- Large, tender pieces that easily fall apart make the dish more appealing. In my experience, these juicy chunks taste significantly better.
- Beef stew meat
- Canned Massaman curry paste
- Coconut milk
- Tamarind puree
- Roasted peanuts
- Palm sugar, coconut sugar or brown sugar
- Thai fish sauce
- Extra spices: cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, whole cloves
How to make Beef Massaman Curry, Step by Step
For the extra spice, toast cinnamon sticks, cardamom, and cloves in a dry pot over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove the spice and set aside.
Heat oil in the pot, add the curry paste and stir for 1-2 minutes adding 1-2 tablespoons of the creamy top of coconut milk.
Add the beef and stir-fry for 4-5 minutes until the beef is browned.
Pour the coconut milk, peanuts, tamarind puree, sugar, and fish sauce. Return the toasted spices to the mixture, and stir well. Cover with the lid and simmer over low heat for 45 minutes
Add the potato and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning according to your taste.
What to Serve with Beef Massaman Curry
Beef Massaman curry is full of rich and complex flavors, and pairing it with the right sides can make your meal even more delicious. Here are some easy and tasty options:
- Jasmine Rice: This fragrant rice is slightly sticky, perfect for soaking up the curry’s flavorful sauce. It’s a classic side that you really should include.
- Flatbreads: Naan, roti, or any kind of soft flatbread is great for scooping up the curry. They add a nice texture and let you enjoy every bit of its taste.
- Steamed Vegetables: For a fresh touch, serve some lightly steamed vegetables like green beans, carrots, or broccoli. They offer a crisp contrast to the curry’s richness and bring balance to your meal.
More Thai Recipes
- Classic Thai Beef Salad (Yum Nua)
- Thai Beef and Basil Stir-Fry (Under 20 Minutes)
- Best Thai Pineapple Fried Rice
- Thai Red Curry Chicken and Vegetables
- Easy Thai Shrimp Curry with Green Curry Paste
Easy Beef Massaman Curry (Rich & Authentic Flavor)
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 tbsp canned Massaman curry paste
- 1 lb (450 g) beef stew meat, preferably diced chuck
- 14 oz (396 g) can coconut milk
- 1 tbsp tamarind puree
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) roasted peanuts, plus extra for garnish
- 1 tbsp palm sugar, coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 13 oz (360 g) potato, peeled and diced into 1-inch pieces
- 4 tbsp cilantro, optional
Extra spice (optional but recommended)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 10 cardamom pods
- 2 whole cloves
- If using the extra spice, toast cinnamon sticks, cardamom, and cloves in a dry pot over medium heat for 2-3 minutes. Remove the spice and set aside.
- Heat oil in the pot, add the curry paste and stir for 1-2 minutes adding 1-2 tablespoons of the creamy top of coconut milk.
- Add the beef and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until the beef is browned.
- Pour the coconut milk, peanuts, tamarind puree, sugar, and fish sauce. Return the toasted spices to the mixture, and stir well. Cover with the lid and simmer over low heat for 40 minutes
- Add the potato and cook for another 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Taste and adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Garnish with extra chopped peanuts and cilantro at the end. Serve hot with boiled Jasmin rice.