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Beef and potato Massaman curry

Have a few hours up your sleeve? There are worse ways to spend them than cooking a big pot of this curry.

By Lisa Featherby
  • 30 mins preparation
  • 4 hrs cooking plus soaking
  • Serves 8
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Beef and potato Massaman curry
This recipe makes a big batch of Massaman curry, so if you don't have an extra-large saucepan, simply halve the recipe.
This Massaman curry keeps well refrigerated for several days and also freezes well.


  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • 1 piece cassia bark
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 1 boneless beef shin (about 1kg), cut into 6cm pieces (see note)
  • 270 ml coconut cream (see note)
  • 1.8 litres coconut milk
  • 500 gm Desiree potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 5cm pieces
  • 50 gm soft light palm sugar, or to taste
  • 50 ml fish sauce, or to taste
  • 2 tbsp tamarind extract, or to taste (see note)
  • To serve: coriander, julienned ginger and steamed jasmine rice
Massaman curry paste
  • 22 gm dried long red chillies, broken up and soaked in hot water for 2 hours
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 3 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp cardamom seeds
  • 6 cloves
  • 45 gm (1/3 cup) roasted peanuts, plus extra to serve
  • 4 large red shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
Fried shallots
  • For shallow-frying: vegetable oil
  • 6 large red shallots, thinly sliced


  • 1
    For curry paste, drain and chop chillies, and set aside. Dry-roast spices until fragrant (30-40 seconds), cool briefly, then pound to a powder with a large mortar and pestle. Add remaining ingredients in batches and pound to a coarse paste, then combine batches and pound until smooth (you can also do this in a small food processor, adding 2 tbsp water to help process to a smooth paste).
  • 2
    Dry-roast bay leaves and cassia bark in a small frying pan until fragrant (20-30 seconds). Set aside.
  • 3
    Heat oil in an extra-large saucepan over medium-high heat, add beef in batches and brown all over (1-2 minutes each side). Transfer to a plate, rinse pan out, then return to medium-high heat, add half the coconut cream and cook, stirring occasionally, until it cracks and the fat separates (4-5 minutes). Add curry paste, bay leaves and cassia bark, and stir-fry until fragrant and curry paste is toasted (1-2 minutes; this may take longer if water has been added to make the paste). Add coconut milk, remaining coconut cream and 250ml water and bring to a simmer. Return beef to pan, reduce heat to low-medium and simmer uncovered until beef is tender and sauce reduces to just cover beef (3½-4 hours; if sauce reduces too much, add a little more water half a cup at a time to keep beef just covered without diluting the sauce too much). Add potato and simmer until beef is very tender and potatoes are soft (20-30 minutes). Season curry to taste with palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind in the last few minutes of cooking for a balance of salty, sweet and sour.
  • 4
    Meanwhile, for fried shallots, heat oil in a wok over medium heat to 180C or until it shimmers. Add shallots and fry, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp (1-2 minutes). Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  • 5
    Scatter curry with coriander, julienned ginger and fried shallots, and serve with steamed jasmine rice.


Note Boneless beef shin needs to be ordered from your butcher, or substitute osso buco, increasing the quantity to account for the bones. Use coconut cream without thickeners or it won't crack - that is, the fat won't separate. Tamarind extract is best made fresh. To make 80ml extract, combine 1 tbsp tamarind pulp with 100ml hot water, and stand until pulp softens. Break up the pulp in the water with the back of a spoon and strain through a coarse sieve.
Drink Suggestion: Rich, black chocolate stout. Drink suggestion by Max Allen