Mussaman-style Beef Curry

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

‘Mussaman’ is the Thai corruption of the word ‘Muslim’. Containing as it does spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and other sweet seasonings that are absent from the Thai canon, it is obviously of Indian provenance. As with curries in general, it was carried to Thailand and elsewhere by Indian traders and enjoyed at first only by Indian clerks and minor officials, Muslim or not, posted to the country. Thai cooks rapidly naturalized this curry, integrating it into the cuisine. Such a curry goes especially well with robust beef dishes.

Ready-made mussaman curry paste is unfortunately difficult to find. In my kitchen, I use Madras curry paste combined with cinnamon sticks for a credible and very tasty version of this curry.


  • 1.4 kg (3 lb) stewing beef, such as brisket or shin
  • 225 g (8 oz) small new potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons groundnut (peanut) oil
  • 3 tablespoons Madras curry paste or powder

Braising Sauce

  • 900 ml ( pints) tinned coconut milk
  • 3 tablespoons palm sugar or plain sugar
  • 3 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons shrimp paste
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 3 tablespoons chopped roasted salted peanuts
  • 6 cardamon seeds
  • ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 3 bay leaves


Cut the meat into 5 cm (2 in) cubes. Peel the potatoes and leave whole. Heat a wok or large frying pan until it is hot. Add the oil, and when it is very hot and slightly smoking, add the beef. Pan-fry until it is brown, about 10 minutes. Then pour off any excess fat, leaving 1 tablespoon of oil with the beef in the wok. Add the curry paste and stir-fry with the beef for about 5 minutes.

Transfer this mixture to a large saucepan and add the braising sauce ingredients. Bring the liquid to the boil, skim off any fat from the surface and turn the heat as low as possible. Cover and braise for 1 hour. Add the potatoes to the meat and continue to cook the mixture for another 30 minutes or until the beef is quite tender. Then turn the heat up to high and rapidly reduce the liquid for about 15 minutes. The sauce should thicken slightly. It can be served immediately or cooled and reheated later.