16 February 2014

Massaman Curry

Last weekend with an extra long weekend due to Waitangi Day & a day off I had time to spend in the kitchen & that coincided nicely with the overwhelming urge to make curry from scratch.  There is something so satisfying about chopping, toasting & pounding out your own curry paste. I find it relaxing. You can just smell all the aromas & flavours as they meld together to make that will pop with flavour.

This is another one from Ripe: A Fresh Batch. That along with Nadia Lim’s Good Food Cook Book have been my Summer go to cook books.  So many wonderful recipes, all bursting with flavour. Even better they are packed full of fresh produce so they are good for you too.  It’s a win win! They have certainly got me back in to the kitchen & loving being there again.

Back to that curry; this is a Thai curry is based on the curries made by Muslims or massamans of Southern Thailand. It uses aromatic spices & flavours from the surrounding areas of India, Malaysia & Indonesia so you know it’s going to be packed full of flavour.  If you do have some time make you’re own paste; it’s well worth the time & effort & a batch will keep in the fridge for up to 3 months letting you whip up a curry whenever you feel like it.

Massaman Curry Paste, from Ripe: A Fresh Batch


Makes 2 small jars

4 tbsp vegetable oil
10 whole dried chillies* or 6 fresh red chillies, roughly chopped
5 cloves garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
3 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp ground cinnamon
Seeds of 4 cardamom pods
1 tsp ground cloves
4 whole star anise 
3 tbsp Thai shrimp paste**
2 tsp black peppercorns
1 onion, peeled & finely diced
2 tbsp lemongrass, finely chopped
6 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
3 tbsp fresh turmeric, grated or 1 tbsp turmeric powder
8 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tsp salt

*If using dried chillies, soak them in a small bowl with a little hot water for 5 minutes or until softened.  Set aside the chillies & discard the water.
**It is important to use Thai shrimp paste, which you’ll get at most Asian supermarkets.  If you can’t find it then it is best leave it out altogether.


Place a medium sized frying pan over a low to medium heat.  Add the oil, chillies, garlic, dry spices, shrimp pastes & peppercorns.  Fry for a couple of minutes, stirring often.

Remove from the heat & put everything in to a mortar & pestle & grind to a paste.  Place the paste in a medium sized bowl & add all the other ingredients.  Use a stick blender & pulse until you have a smooth paste.

Place in clean sterilised jars & top with enough oil to cover.  Store in the fridge for up to 3 months.

Massaman Beef Curry


Serves 6-8

2 tbsp vegetable oil
800g beef rump or chuck steak, cut in to 3cm cubes
4 shallots, peeled & quartered
4 cloves garlic, peeled & roughly chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tbsp turmeric powder
4 tbsp massaman curry paste
1 cup / 250ml thick coconut cream, reserve the remainder of the can for serving
2 tbsp peanut butter*
1 tbsp palm sugar or soft brown sugar
4 tbsp tamarind pulp
1x 425ml can coconut milk
2 cups / 500ml water
300g potatoes, peeled & cut in to 3cm pieces
4 / 400g Asian eggplants, sliced in to 4cm rounds**

*I use Pic’s the best peanut butter ever!!
**I left these out as I didn’t have any & also I confess not a fan of eggplant unless it is in Queenies smoky babaganoush with their Turkish eggs.

To Serve
Reserved thickened coconut cream
1/2 cup fresh coriander leaves or Thai basil leaves
1/2 cup roasted salted peanuts
2 limes cut in to wedges


Prepare the massman curry paste.

Pre heat oven to 160C/320F

Place a large frying pan over a high heat & add the oil.  When hot add beef, shallots, garlic, kaffir lime, turmeric & curry paste.  Cook for 5 minutes to brown the meat.

Add a quarter cup of coconut cream & lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for 5 minutes until the cream becomes glossy & the oil & spices start to separate.  Add the remainder of the 1 cup of coconut cream & stir through.  Remove from the heat & transfer to a casserole dish with a fitted lid.  

In a small bowl mix together the peanut butter, sugar & tamarind with a little hot water.  Add this mix to the curry & place in the oven to cook for one & half hours.  Remove from the oven & add the potatoes, return to the oven & cook for a further 30-40 minutes until the beef is tender & the potatoes cooked through.

Serve with small bowls of the coconut cream, fresh coriander, roasted peanuts, lime wedges & rice.

So fragrant, so aromatic, a little sweet, a little sour, a little spice.  That perfect trio of Thai flavours. So go on; if you have a spare afternoon pound out some paste, make a curry, pop it in the oven, relax a little & enjoy the aromas wafting from the oven & then just enjoy all those wonderful flavours.  And hopefully there will be left overs as it will taste even better on day 2.

If you like this you might like this Curried Beef Stew
Two years ago Mexican Scramble



  1. OMG, I'm totally trying this. I love a good massaman curry, but I've never tried making one - this looks amazing, and that sounds like another good cookbook I need to be on the look out for.

    1. 😊 Yes Sue, this cook book is a keeper for sure.


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