Massaman Beef Coconut Curry

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry - A wooden bowl filled with bites of potato, sweet potato, and beef in a rich sauce.

This Massaman style Beef Coconut Curry contains tender cooked potatoes and sweet potatoes along with melt-in-your-mouth beef. It’s made with warming spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, and star anise slowly simmered a creamy coconut base. The finished dish is a curry so satisfying, your family will think you ordered delivery. 

Disclosure: This post was made possible through Alberta Beef. Their sponsorship has helped me create this wonderful recipe for Massaman Beef Curry. I hope you enjoy it.

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry

It’s been ages since I’ve worked on a curry recipe. I’ve always loved the flavours of Thai food; hot, salty, sweet, sour. When combined together in balanced proportions, something magical happens. Massaman Curry has always been the standout Thai curry style for me. The curry’s rich, slightly sweet sauce is packed with warm flavours and a mild heat. There’s something so satisfying about the tender beef falling apart with just the slightest pressure from your fork. 

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry - Wooden bowls filled with bites of potato, sweet potato, and beef in a rich sauce.

More Dine in, Less Take Out

2019 has been a busy year here at Dish ‘n’ the Kitchen. Like many busy moms, I find that the busier I get the more I fall back on take out. As a food blogger, I’m not immune to ‘dinner fatigue’ and often find myself reaching for the phone once five o’clock rolls around. As the year draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about making a few changes in the way I feed my family. 

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry - Ingredient flat lay on a white marble background.

Planning Makes Perfect

A huge part of those changes begin with meal planning. Meal planning not only ensures that our meals are nutritionally balanced, but also saves us money by using groceries more efficiently. There is less food waste, and no delivery fee when you cook at home! My aim for the new year is to use the food we already have in our freezer while also spending less money on takeout. 

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry - Ingredients including raw stewing beef, potatoes, ginger, lime, and sweet potato.

The Lost Art of Cooking with Beef

In an effort to simplify and streamline mealtimes, many home cooks reach for more familiar, quick cooking cuts of beef. Stir fries and Bolognese are a tasty go-to meals but inexpensive cuts that require longer cooking times (chuck, brisket, round, short ribs, shanks, etc.) will reward you with so much more flavour. Roasting a beef roast, braising short ribs or shanks, and stewing are sometimes considered more ‘difficult’ ways to cook beef but nothing could be further from the truth. All it takes is a little time and planning. 

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry - Wooden bowls filled with bites of potato, sweet potato, and beef in a rich sauce. Surrounded by a small bowl of rice and spices.

What Type of Beef Should I Use in Beef Coconut Curry?

The primary cooking method used for cooking curries is stewing. Stewing is a slow cooking method which simmers tough, inexpensive cuts of beef and turns them into tender, delicious morsels. In curries, it’s best to use either chuck roast, chuck shoulder, or round. For more even cooking, trim into similar sized pieces and remove any stray connective tissue or large pieces of fat.

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry - A wooden bowl filled with bites of potato, sweet potato, and beef in a rich sauce.

How to Cook a Great Beef Coconut Curry

The best way to cook any beef stew or curry is to begin by browning the beef in batches, then add in the aromatics and liquids. Browning the beef unlocks a whole other level of flavour potential by creating a reaction between sugars and amino acids. You may have heard of the Maillard Reaction before, it’s a huge part of why browning or caramelizing food makes it so darn tasty. 

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry - A wooden bowl filled with bites of potato, sweet potato, and beef in a rich sauce.

What Are the Flavours of Massaman Beef Coconut Curry?

Once the beef has been browned, it’s time to release the aromatics. This is the fun part and most important step when making a great curry. Onions, ginger, and garlic are sautéed to start the flavour base. Next, Thai red curry paste, then turmeric and coriander are added. Finally, nothing can replace the flavours fresh lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, and whole star anise bring to Massaman Curry. They are the perfect way to boost the flavour of packaged curry paste. 

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry - A wooden bowl filled with bites of potato, sweet potato, and beef in a rich sauce.

How Do I know When the Beef Coconut Curry is Ready?

After the curry has been simmering for an hour, test the beef by removing a piece and applying a light pressure to it. If the meat gives but does not fall apart, continue simmering. Once the meat begins to fall apart, add the vegetables and simmer until they become fork tender. At this point, there should also be a lovely sheen of red oil developing on the surface. Lastly, finish the curry by balancing the flavour with fish sauce, lime juice, and brown sugar as directed in the recipe.

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Yield: 8 servings

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry

Massaman Beef Coconut Curry - A wooden bowl filled with bites of potato, sweet potato, and beef in a rich sauce.

Massaman Style Beef Coconut Curry with potatoes, peanuts and tender beef in a creamy, rich sauce accented with warming spices. Satisfying and full of flavour, you'll reach for this recipe again and again!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2.5 lbs beef stew meat
  • cornstarch
  • cooking oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 1 1/2 white onions; chopped
  • 3 tbsp garlic; minced
  • 3 tbsp ginger root; minced
  • 1/3 cup red curry paste
  • 1 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 5 whole star anise
  • 5 - 3 inch cinnamon sticks
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 (13.5 oz/400 ml) cans coconut milk (with 7 oz/200ml SEE NOTE)
  • 3 medium potatoes
  • 3 small sweet potatoes
  • 3/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1-2 tbsp fish sauce
  • juice of one lime 
  • brown sugar
  • rice

Instructions

  1. If needed, trim beef into similar sized pieces. Place 1/3 beef in a bowl and sprinkle 1 or 2 tablespoons of cornstarch all over. Mix until all the pieces become coated.
  2. Working in batches, add oil to a large wok or frying pan and brown the beef on all sides. Remove beef from pan, deglaze the pan with a 1/2 cup water and set aside.
  3. Place more oil and the chopped onion in a Dutch oven. Sweat over medium heat until the onion begins to soften then add the ginger and garlic. Cook a few minutes more until everything is soft and aromatic.
  4. Add in the ground coriander and turmeric, then the red curry paste. Stir so that the vegetables become coated.
  5. Now it's time to add in the aromatics (lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, and star anise).
  6. Pour coconut cream in to the Dutch oven and allow to simmer for a few minutes then add in the coconut milk, deglazing liquid, and water.
  7. Cover and let simmer (stirring every 20 minutes or so) for 60-75 minutes or until the beef has just become tender.
  8. Add potatoes, sweet potatoes and peanuts. Cover and simmer another 25 minutes or until veggies are soft.
  9. Fine tune the curry using fresh lime juice, fish sauce, and brown sugar. None of these three flavours should over power each other but exist in perfect balance.

Notes

1. Using packaged red curry paste cuts down prep time considerably. If you can find Massaman Curry paste, give it a try as well. You may need to adjust the aromatics if you are using it instead of red curry paste.

2. Reserve about 7 oz/200ml coconut milk and some cream to add to the Jasmine rice while it cooks.

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

8

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving:Calories: 633Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 140mgSodium: 707mgCarbohydrates: 52gFiber: 5gSugar: 5gProtein: 54g

Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.

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35 comments

  1. Sharon

    I always love when I can find take out recipes that I can make at home, and have it be just as easy and delicous.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      YES! and I’ve been wanting to re-create this take out favourite for a while!

      Reply

  2. Marisa F. Stewart

    You’re correct — cheaper cuts of beef that take longer to cook will definitely reward you with lots of flavor. Our Bolognese sauce takes 6 hours to cook. The meat ends up like butter in texture and so much flavor. This beef curry is really tempting my tastebuds I’ve marked it to try this weekend.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      That bolognese sounds amazing!! I’ll have to give it a try instead of my quick meat sauce next time.

      Reply

  3. Denise

    This is mouth watering. It looks so flavorful and filling, this will be loved by my family. I can’t wait to make it for them.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you Denise, I hope you all really enjoy it!

      Reply

  4. Sabrina

    Yum!!! I cook Thai food often but interestingly I’ve never had massaman curry. I love the warming spices in it and it’s now marked as a favourite warm stew. I agree wholeheartedly with planning ahead but face the same pitfalls. Let’s cheer each other on in cooking healthy and reducing food waste. Cheers Girl!

    Reply

  5. Leanne

    The cold nights of January are calling out for this hearty and comforting curry. The beef looks so tender and flavourful. I know my husband would be all over this dish with the warming spices and filling ingredients! Happy New Year!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Happy New year to you too Leanne. Can you believe it’s 2020?! I think this one will be on regular rotation this year!

      Reply

  6. Katherine | Love In My Oven

    Oooh I seriously need to try this recipe! My hubby and I love beef massaman. We tried to make it a while ago and it wasn’t great, so I got excited when I saw your post!! 🙂

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Admittedly, I’ve had a few meh attempts. That’s why I was so excited to share this one…it’s a winner! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

      Reply

  7. Danielle

    It’s been a while that I combined beef with coconut flavors, so the time has come because this recipe here looks too delicious not to try it. Love your way of checking if the meat is ready – super simple and effective.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      I think the coconut must have some sort of enzymes that break down proteins but who knows? It’s delicious!

      Reply

  8. Paula Montenegro

    I’m loving this curry! It was a huge hit at our house. We love curry but always make the same one with chicken. This was a welcomed change! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      So glad you enjoyed it Paula, thanks for letting me know!

      Reply

  9. Terri

    Wow! This sounds so delicious, healthy and something I could realistically make on a weeknight. My family would adore this1

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you, mine sure did! It gets even better as leftovers too!

      Reply

  10. Lori | The Kitchen Whisperer

    This looks like a big bowl of perfect comfort food! I’m loving the 2 types of potatoes too!

    Adding this to my menu next week!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      yes, the sweet potatoes aren’t traditional but I like the contrast and sweetness they add. I hope you enjoy!

      Reply

  11. Jess

    Oh my goodness! I want to dive right in! YUM! I see or hear the word curry and my interest is peaked. Then you combine it with beef and coconut flavors and I am game! I can’t wait to try!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Wonderful Jess! I hope you enjoy it!

      Reply

  12. Sara

    I am such a big fan of slow cooking some of the less popular cuts of beef, so this is right up my alley! I can’t wait to enjoy a bowl of this next weekend!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Love it! It make the house smell sooooo good and beefy!

      Reply

  13. Jo

    I make a very similar lamb version of this massamam curry. It’s my absolutel favorite. I need to make myself some curry soon, i’m so craving for it now.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Lamb! Wow…I guess that would work too. I’m just not a big lamb fan. I had a very traumatic food incident with overcooked mutton when I was a kid LOL

      Reply

  14. Aline

    WOW!!!! This dish looks on point and super delicious!! For some insane reason, I never made curry at home, but all those flavors are killer, and I need to start making this soon!!! Fantastic!!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thank you so much Aline. It is really worth it to try making at home. The advantage to that is your house smells amazing!

      Reply

  15. Colleen

    This looks amazing, Bernice. I love to make Thai food, and eat it of course. But massaman curry is one I’ve never made. We had it in Thailand and yours looks every bit as delicious. Pinning to try.

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      yes, please do! It’s an odd duck as far as Thai cuisine go as it’s not like the other usual Thai curries as it’s more sweet and warming. I just love it.

      Reply

  16. Cindy Gordon

    This looks delicious. I am putting it on the menu plan for next week!

    Reply

  17. Haydon

    Oh yeah… whipped this up on Saturday. The place smelled incredible! Beef was melt in your mouth and the sauce was amazing. I added a few more sticks of lemongrass because I love it – alas I was out of star anise so I missed this very important part! That said, it was still incredible and I’ll for sure make it again. It reminded me of a Malaysian beef rendang (which I also love) so we were a happy household. Thanks Bernice!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Haydon, that’s awesome!! Glad everyone enjoyed it and yes, extra lemongrass is always recommended! I hope you gave it a good bash before you added it (I somehow missed that step in the original recipe!)

      Reply

  18. Kelly Neil

    Oh my gosh, it’s funny I’ve never made curry but have always wanted to. The pics look incredible and I love the sound of all the warming spices together. A perfect weeknight meal! Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

    1. Bernice Hill

      Thanks for stopping by Kelly, I hope you do try it out sometime!

      Reply

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