Massaman curry is said to be originated in the cosmopolitan Court of Ayutthaya, through the Persian merchant Sheikh Ahmad Qomi, from whom the noble Thai Bunnag family descends. This dish is so good and popular, it was even mentioned repeatedly in Thai literature. The first traditional version of this dish was actually made with chicken, but over the years the version of this dish with beef became more popular.  

It is not easy to find this dish in small or even medium-sized restaurants in Thailand, because it is relatively hard to make and the ingredients are rather costly, especially for the beef version. Beef Massaman Curry is considered to be a very fancy dish in Thailand and is only served in high-end restaurants or prepared for on special occasions.  

There are as many variations of this dish as there are stars in the sky. And usually, the Massaman curry paste is store-bought, and not made from scratch. But to us, the flavour is very different from the store-bought paste. It is definitely very delicious too, but cannot compare with the homemade curry paste.

In our version, the consistency is more like a stew, and that’s exactly how we prefer it. However, many times we tried and liked this dish with very soupy consistency when the sauce is very liquid and you pour it over rice. Usually, they do it in restaurants, and the reason behind it is that you can put much less meat in there. We like it with more meat and thicker sauce, but it really is just a matter of personal preference.

Thai people prefer to add store-bought roasted peanuts in this dish, as producers roast the peanut in the shell and the browning is done more evenly. We roasted the peanuts ourselves, as there were no roasted ones available in our store that day, to be honest. However, they came out just as good and delicious.

Massaman curry has a very rich and deep flavour and should be served with rice and some pickles to prevent palate fatigue. 

Recipe Card 

Ingredients Quantity
Beef rib-eye steak 250-270 gm
Fennel seeds 1 tsp
Cardamom seeds 1 tsp
Cloves 5
Black peppercorns ½ tsp
Dried chilli 1 pcs (no seeds)
Star anise 1
Nutmeg (whole) 1
Lemongrass 1 stick
Galangal 3 cm
Garlic 4 cloves
Shallots 3 medium
Shrimp paste 1 tsp
Cinnamon 1 stick
Tamarind paste 1 tsp
Soybean paste 1 tsp
Kaffir lime leaves 4
Palm or brown sugar 1 tsp
Potatoes 2 small or 1 large
Coconut milk 400 ml
Fish sauce 1 tbsp
Onion 1 medium
Peanuts 2 tbsp
Water 1 cup
Grapeseed oil 1 tbsp
For Plating  
Jasmine rice (black & white)
Mixed pickles (optional)
Coriander leaves (optional)
Chilli peppers (optional)

 

Tools/Utensils Required 

Knife, Mortar and Pestle, Wok/Large deep sauce pan, cutting boards, grill/frying pan

Method of Preparation:

  1. Prepare all the ingredients. Pat dry ribeye steak with a paper towel
  2. Trim excess fat and cut into bite-size cubes.
  3. Heat frying pan/griddle. Add 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil.
  4. Add beef cubes to the hot pan.
  5. Fry beef cubes on 2 sides until golden brown (to enhance beefy flavour, we will cook it again later)
  6. Remove the beef cubes from the pan/griddle, set aside.
  7. Roast the peanuts until golden on very low heat, stirring constantly.
  8. Remove from heat, set aside.
  9. Dry fry the dry spices (very low heat, around 3 minutes). Dry spices: cloves, cardamom, fennel seeds, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, dried chilli, cinnamon stick, star anise, nutmeg.
  10. Stir constantly, cook until aromatic.
  11. Remove from the pan, set aside.
  12. Remove cardamom seeds from the pods, discard the pods.
  13. Add all dry spices to mortar and pestle (except dried chilli, nutmeg and cinnamon stick)
  14. Grate nutmeg over dry spices (remove the shell, use ½ core)
  15. Grind the dry spices to a powder.
  16. Remove the seeds from the chilli, add to mortar and pestle with dry spices and grind again.
  17. Remove the dry spices powder, set aside.
  18. Chop the lemongrass (use only soft bottom part).
  19. Peel and chop the shallots and garlic cloves.
  20. Peel and chop the galangal root.
  21. Dry fry fresh ingredients on very low heat around 5 minutes (Lemongrass, galangal, garlic cloves and shallots).
  22. Remove from the frying pan.
  23. Add fried fresh ingredients to mortar and pestle.
  24. Grind to a paste.
  25. Add dry spices powder, grind well together.
  26. Add shrimp paste, grind well to combine all the ingredients.
  27. Remove massaman curry paste, set aside.
  28. Cut the potatoes to bite-size pieces.
  29. Roughly chop the onion.
  30. Heat the wok, add a splash of coconut milk.
  31. Add 2 heaped tsp of massaman curry paste, stir to dissolve in coconut milk. Add 1 more splash of coconut milk (cook until the coconut milk cooks away).
  32. Add beef cubes, stir well to cover with the sauce.
  33. Add the remaining coconut milk.
  34. Add ½ cup of water (keep adding the remaining water while cooking).
  35. Add tamarind paste, soybean paste, kaffir lime leaves, palm sugar and cinnamon stick.
  36. Add potatoes, onions, fish sauce and peanuts.
  37. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour without lid (stir every 10-15 minutes, add more water if needed)
  38. Remove cinnamon stick and kaffir lime leaves.
  39. Serve hot with jasmine rice on a side (black and white jasmine rice was used in this recipe, mixed 50/50, cooked in a rice cooker)

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About the Contributor

Evgeny and Alisa Belousov

We both share a passion for cooking and especially enjoy cooking together. For us, it is more than just about food. It’s about sharing creative ideas, communicating and expressing ourselves through our culinary creations.

We believe that anyone can cook and this idea helped us start our culinary project – Delicious Artisanal Food. We hope to inspire other people, even those who never cooked before, to take the first step and begin this wonderful journey of cooking home-made delicious quality meals. The best food is the food made with love and by people we love.

At first, we learned from the internet and culinary books, we also took cooking classes whenever we travelled, discovering different food cultures and ingredients. But we thought that it was not enough and recently we joined ICCA Dubai to gain professional cooking skills and challenge ourselves.

To know more about delicious artisanal food project please visit: deliciousaf.net

 

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