Massamun Beef Curry

Gaeng Massamun Neua


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes

    4 to 6

    servings as part of a multi-dish meal

Appears in

Southeast Asian Flavors: Adventures in Cooking the Foods of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia & Singapore

Southeast Asian Flavors

By Robert Danhi

Published 2008

  • About

In this Southern Thai curry, tender cubes of beef, chunks of potatoes, and peanuts luxuriate in a thick fragrant coconut curry of spices. The curry paste is packed with what I refer to as “sweet spices”: ground cassia (cinnamon), cloves, nutmeg, mace, and cardamom. Warn your guests to look out for the whole cassia stick. Whole cardamom pods are more difficult to seek out so I do not add whole ones in the curry, however add a bit extra to the curry paste recipe. Biting into it can be overwhelming. Beef is most commonly used but do not hesitate to prepare this dish with lamb shoulder or chicken thigh meat instead.


  • lb. (680 g.) Stewing beef, such as shoulder or flank, large bite size pieces, about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) thick
  • 3 cups Canned coconut milk, stirred well (divided use)
  • 2 cups Water or light stock
  • ¼ cup Mussamun curry paste (add 1 more tablespoon if paste was made in blender) or store bought
  • 2 tsp. Grated ginger
  • 2 inches Cassia bark (cinnamon), toasted briefly in pan
  • ¾ lb. (340 g.) Gold (waxy) potatoes, 1-inch (2.5 cm.) chunks
  • ¾ cup Peanuts, roasted in dry pan
  • 3 Tbsp. Tamarind pulp
  • 3 Tbsp. Fish sauce (nahm pla)
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp. Light brown palm sugar


  1. In a saucepan, bring beef, 1 cup of water and 2 cups of the coconut milk to a boil. Lower to simmer; cook 1 hour or until just tender, adding water as needed to keep beef mostly covered. Drain simmering liquid into one container and beef into another; cover the beef tightly.
  2. Heat 1 cup of coconut milk in a wok or 4 qt. (4 L.) saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring often, until it thickens substantially and oil begins to separate out, about 5 minutes. Stir in curry paste; cook, stirring constantly for 2 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
  3. Add 1 cup water, ginger, cassia, potatoes, peanuts, and all of the simmering liquid from beef. Simmer until potatoes are almost cooked, about 15 minutes, adding water if necessary to keep potatoes submerged. Add back the beef; simmer for 10 minutes more. Add tamarind, fish sauce, salt, and sugar; bring to a boil. Adjust consistency with water until it is the consistency of cold cream, rich and creamy.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional palm sugar, fish sauce, and salt. Serve immediately, or chill overnight (remove cassia otherwise it will be overpowering the next day) and reheat to serve.