• Beef massaman curry is on the milder side (Andrew Dorn)Source: Andrew Dorn

Massaman curry brings together an incredible blend of Indian and Thai flavours. It's complex and deep, yet mild in spice, and is a favourite around the world. 






Skill level

Average: 2.8 (138 votes)


  • 60 ml (¼ cup) vegetable oil
  • 2 kg beef short ribs, cut into 4 cm pieces
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut milk
  • 2 bay leaves

Curry paste

  • 6 red Asian shallots, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 lemongrass stalks (white part only)
  • 6 dried red chillies, seeds removed, optional
  • 3 cm piece galangal, sliced
  • 1 tbsp shrimp paste

Ground spice mix

  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg


  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut milk
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • 2 tbsp white sugar
  • 3 waxy potatoes, peeled and quartered

To serve

  • roasted peanuts, crispy fried shallots, thinly sliced red chilli and steamed jasmine rice

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over high heat. When hot, brown the beef, in batches, until golden all over. Add the coconut milk, bay leaves and 750 ml (3 cups) water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer gently for 1½ -2 hours until the beef is tender. Skim any impurities that rise to the top of the cooking liquid, then remove the beef and set aside. Reserve the cooking liquid.

2. Meanwhile, for the curry paste, place all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend into a smooth paste. Add a bit of water if needed, to help the blades spin. Set aside.

3. Place all the ingredients for the ground spice mix in a small bowl and stir to combine.

4. For the curry, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the curry paste and cook for 3-5 minutes or until fragrant. Add the coconut milk and the ground spice mix and stir until well combined. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise and reserved beef braising liquid. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the tamarind, fish sauce and sugar, then add the potatoes and cook until tender, turning as required.

5. Return the cooked beef to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Place the curry in a serving dish and garnish with peanuts, crispy fried shallots and fresh chillies. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.


Diana Chan and guests explore the flavours of Asia from her Melbourne home in the second series of Asia Unplated.