Delicious Beef Massaman Curry Recipe

Beef Massaman Curry

A classic Beef Massaman Curry is one of the most distinctive (and delicious) recipes currently in the Plate & Place repertoire. This stunning dish is courtesy of Chef Saiphin, founder of Rosa’s Thai in London.

Massaman is a rich, slightly tangy beef curry made with an aromatic coconut broth, which also has the addition of potatoes making it a truly hearty dish and a one-pot wonder.

Rosa’s Thai restaurant first opened their doors in Spitalfields London back in in 2008. I recall enjoying one the best Pad Thai dishes I’d ever eaten and have been a regular ever since. The brand has continued to go from strength to strength with restaurants up and down the country.

The key to Rosa’s success has also been in the attention to detail. For instance, in this recipe, Chef Saiphin, insists on dry-frying and roasting many of the ingredients to gain a richer and more complex flavour.

You’ll find a comprehensive list of ingredients below, which may seem daunting, but we promise it’s worth it – this recipe is the real deal.

Rosa’s Thai restaurant

Recipe for Beef Massaman Curry

Serves 2


  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 small cinnamon stick (or ½ a teaspoon ground cinnamon)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 generous tablespoons Massaman Curry Paste (recipe below)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped (or 5 very small onions, peeled and used whole)
  • 400ml (14fl oz) coconut milk, plus extra to serve
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce (use 2 teaspoons of salt instead for a vegetarian version)
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1 potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 200g (7oz) beef sirloin, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 tablespoons beef or vegetable stock (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons roasted cashew nuts
  • 5 pieces of chopped pineapple
  • Steamed rice, to serve


    1. Roast the cumin, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon in a dry frying pan set over a medium heat, stirring continuously for a few minutes, until their aroma fills the air. Crush the spices using a pestle and mortar and set aside.
    2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Stir in the curry paste, crushed roasted spices, bay leaves and onion and cook until it is fragrant and the oil separates and rises to the surface.
    3. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 2 minutes.
    4. Add half the coconut milk and stir for 1 minute.
    5. Add the palm sugar, caster sugar, fish sauce and a pinch of salt. Cook for a minute, then stir in the tamarind sauce.
    6. Add the potato and the beef. Simmer for 10–15 minutes until the beef is tender.
    7. Add the rest of the coconut milk. If the sauce still seems too dry, add a little stock.
    8. Cook for another minute until everything is mixed well, then add the nuts and pineapple.
    9. Season to taste. The curry should have a perfect balance of salty, sweet and sour.
    10. Ladle into a serving bowl and drizzle over a little coconut milk. Serve with steamed rice.


    For the massaman curry paste

    To make this curry paste, you will need to dry-fry or roast many of the ingredients before pounding them into a paste – this gives Massaman curry its distinctive taste.

    MAKES 150ML (1⁄4 PINT)


    • 5 shallots, unpeeled
    • 2 heads of garlic, unpeeled
    • 2 tablespoons sliced galangal
    • 1 lemongrass stalk, sliced
    • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
    • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    • 2 cloves
    • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
    • 3 dried red spur chillies, deseeded and soaked until tender
    • 1 teaspoon sea salt
    • 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
    • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste


    1. In a wok or frying pan, dry-fry the whole shallots and garlic for 5-10 minutes until golden and soft. Set aside to cool, then peel off the skin.   
    2. Dry-fry the galangal and lemongrass over a medium heat until fragrant and slightly golden, about 2–3 minutes. Set aside. Dry-fry the coriander seeds, cumin, cloves and peppercorns for 2 minutes, until fragrant, stirring continuously. Pound or grind to a powder.
    3. Finely pound or grind the chillies and salt. Add the roasted galangal and lemongrass and pound or grind well. Add the shallots and garlic and continue to pound or grind, then add the ground roasted spices, the cardamom and the shrimp paste. Mix until smooth.


    Make sure to check out Rosa’s Thai, with restaurants across London and the UK.

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