Gaeng Massaman Neua (Thai Massaman Beef Curry Recipe)

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Gaeng massaman neua is everything you crave in a curry and more. This Thai massaman beef curry recipe comes with juicy braised beef and sweet potatoes swimming in a coconut curry sauce with a balance of salty, sweet, and sour. Pair with steamed jasmine rice, and you’ve got yourself a serious comfort food.

Gaeng massaman neua, Thai massaman beef curry, served with jasmine rice.

Gaeng massaman is a complex curry, so be prepared for several hours of slow-cooking the beef. If you’re looking for something quicker that’s suited for a simple weeknight dinner, try one of these: Thai massaman chicken curry, authentic Thai red curry recipe, gang garee curry (Thai yellow chicken curry), and Thai green curry pork.

What is massaman curry

Massaman curry is a complex Thai curry known for its blend of spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. Key ingredients are coconut milk, meat, potatoes, and peanuts, for a flavor that’s lightly spicy, sweet, and nutty.

Close-up of Thai massaman beef curry with chunks of beef, carrots, and potatoes.

Gaeng massaman is usually prepared with chicken or beef instead of pork because of its Muslim origin.

It’s a signature dish of Southern Thai cuisine and a perfect example of how cultural fusion can create unique dishes. It began with Muslim traders introducing it to Thailand, where it melded with Thai and Persian influences. Thai people soon made this curry their own, infusing it with their local spices and ingredients.

Two more staple dishes in Southern Thailand are kaeng som (a sour curry), and khua kling (a dry mince curry). Try them next!

Gaeng massaman neua

This dish is like the best parts of Southeast Asian cuisine got together and decided to make an epic curry. You’ve got the incredibly fresh Thai ingredients and all the lovely dried spices.

Everything comes together into a creamy coconut curry sauce that’s just a little spicy, a hint sweet, and a lot of yummy.

Gaeng massaman curry beef served with steamed jasmine rice.

The beef in this curry is so tender that it practically melts in your mouth. It’s slow-cooked to perfection, just like this Thai beef stew, and every piece of beef is wrapped with curry sauce.

It’s just like the ones you’d get at Thai restaurants, but only better, since you made this.

Oh, and you can tweak everything just the way you like it!

Why try Thai massaman beef curry recipe

Authentic Thai curry recipe: The preparation method used in this gaeng massaman neua recipe is the real deal. The homemade massaman curry paste is a game-changer and brings all the complex and authentic flavors that make massaman curry standout from the rest.

Melt in your mouth beef: The method of first simmering the beef in a pot with coconut milk and water makes it practically fall apart later. Afterward, the tender beef and reduced braising liquid are added to the pot of simmering massaman beef curry.

Easy to customize: From adjusting the spice levels to adding your favorite vegetables, there are many useful customization tips after the recipe instructions.

What cut of beef for massaman curry

It’s important to select a cut of beef suited for the slow-cooking method.

Local Thai beef vendor presenting fresh beef.
A beloved local vendor in our rural village, providing me with the freshest beef for authentic gaeng massaman neua.

Chuck steak (also known as braising steak) is well-marbled with fat, which melts during the slow-cooking process. Brisket is a cheap cut and gets wonderfully tender and brings out a lot of flavor after slow cooking. Beef short ribs are another great option, after hours of slow cooking the ribs become perfect tender and fall apart.

The beef pieces should be big chunks, so don’t slice them thinly. You should have large chunks of beef that just melt in your mouth!

Ingredients

For the exact measurements, please scroll down to the recipe card at the end of this post.

Ingredients for gaeng massaman neua labeled: beef, water, massaman curry paste, tamarind paste, salt, palm sugar, star anise, cinnamon, fish sauce, peanuts, coconut milk, onion, carrot, and potato.
  • Beef – Opt for tender cuts that simmer to perfection, like beef chuck, brisket, and beef short ribs. Adjust the cooking time accordingly.
  • Coconut milk – Coconut milk is the creamy base of the coconut curry. Opt for full-fat coconut milk, so not coconut cream or other alternatives.
  • Water – Before the curry is made, the beef is cooked in a mixture of water and coconut milk. This extra step makes the beef extra tender and is a crucial part of this authentic Thai beef massaman curry recipe.
  • Toasted star anise & toasted cinnamon stick – The combination of these two toasted spices adds a sweet, woody fragrance and a warm, licorice-like aroma to the curry.
  • Massaman curry paste – Use my homemade Thai massaman curry paste recipe or opt for store-bought alternatives like Mae Ploy or Maesri brand. The curry paste ingredients are a mix of herbs and spices like black peppercorns, coriander seeds, cinnamon, cumin seeds, lemongrass, cardamom pods, and shrimp paste. A complex blend of spices gives this Thai curry its unique, distinct flavor profile.
  • Roasted peanuts – Peanuts are a key ingredient in gaeng massaman curry. Use my dry roasted peanuts recipe to roast your peanuts before adding them to your curry for extra flavor.
  • Carrots, onions – My choice of vegetables, feel free to customize with your favorite greens.
  • Potatoes – Simmered in the sweet coconut curry sauce, the potatoes become perfectly tender. Sweet potatoes and beef? Yes please!
  • Tamarind paste – Tamarind paste, a key ingredient in Thai cuisine, adds a tangy and slightly sour note. It’s an essential in many Thai recipes, like this authentic chicken pad Thai.
  • Palm sugar – Brings a deep, caramel-like sweetness that enriches the sweet flavors of kaeng massaman neua. It’s crucial to use palm sugar and not white sugar or brown sugar.
  • Fish sauce – A staple ingredient in Thai food, bringing a savory and umami depth that ties all the flavors together.
  • Salt – A pinch of salt enhances the overall flavors of your beef curry.

Cooking instructions

Raw beef in coconut milk in a pot.

Step 1: Add 3.4 fl oz (100ml) of the coconut milk with water to a pot set over low heat. Place your beef chunks into the pot and allow them to simmer slowly for 2–3 hours. The beef should be fork-tender upon completion, but keep in mind that thicker cuts may require more time. If you own a pressure cooker, this is the perfect opportunity to use it and cut down on the cooking time.

Pieces of beef browned in coconut milk.

Step 2: Once your beef is tender, remove it from the pot along with 10.15 fl oz (300ml) of the liquid it was braised in. Transfer both the meat and the liquid into a bowl and set aside.

Reduced coconut milk in a wok.

Step 3: Pour 6.8 fl oz (200ml) of coconut milk into a wok and heat it over low-medium. Simmer the milk until you notice the coconut oil beginning to separate from the milk.

Simmering massaman curry paste in a wok.

Step 4: Add the massaman curry paste to the wok. Stir and cook until oil starts appearing on the surface.

Step 5: Now, pour in the remaining coconut milk along with the reserved braised beef and liquid. Add the carrots, onions, potatoes, cinnamon stick, star anise, palm sugar, salt, tamarind paste, and fish sauce. Continue to simmer the curry until the potatoes and other vegetables reach your desired softness.

Gaeng massaman neua ready in a wok.

Step 6: Stir in the roasted peanuts and then remove the pot from the heat. Serve immediately with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Kitchen tools

  • Thai mortar and pestle or food processor for making curry paste
  • Separate bowl for cooked beef and braising liquid
  • Large pot or Dutch oven for slow-cooked beef
  • Cutting board and sharp knife
  • Measuring spoons and cups
  • Serving ladle

Recipe substitutions

Vegetables: Bell peppers, green beans, broccoli, baby corn, squash, zucchini, bok choy, and mushrooms.

Proteins: Both chicken thighs and chicken breasts can be used. For pork, opt for pork loin or pork ribs for a rich flavor. Lamb can be a unique but good substitute in this massaman curry recipe. Vegetarians can use extra firm tofu.

Spice: For a mild curry, use less dried red chili in your curry paste. Note that reducing the amount of curry paste used will alter the flavors of your homemade Thai massaman curry beef. For extra spice, feel free to add Thai chili peppers like bird’s eye chilies.

How to serve gaeng massaman curry

Serve your finished Thai beef curry over a bed of steaming jasmine rice, which soaks up the flavorful curry sauce. A side of bread or Thai roti is common for Thai massaman curry.

Feel free to garnish your curry with your favorite herbs like freshly chopped green onions, coriander, or even a sprinkle of Thai basil. A squeeze of lime juice can add extra zing, and roasted peanuts or cashews can also be sprinkled on top.

How to store Thai beef massaman curry

Let your leftover beef curry cool to room temperature, then transfer it into an airtight container. It’ll stay fresh in your refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Reheating: To reheat, gentle warm it on the stove over low-medium heat, stirring occasionally. Microwaving is also an option.

Freezing: You can freeze your leftovers for later. Place it in an airtight container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge overnight.

Frequently asked questions

Can I make this in advance?

Yes, Thai curries are suited for meal prep. Curries often taste even better the next day, so this recipe is perfect to make in advance.

What does massaman curry taste like?

Massaman curry is rich, mildly spicy, and slightly sweet. It combines creamy coconut milk with a blend of spices like cinnamon and cardamom for a nutty and aromatic taste.

How many calories in massaman curry?

Massaman curry is typically quite high in calories as it’s made with full-fat coconut milk, peanuts, and potatoes. One serving has around 700 calories.

Can I make this in a slow cooker?

Yes, slow cookers are great for making curries. Cook on low for 6–8 hours until the beef is tender.

What does massaman mean?

Massaman is a Thai word that likely originated from “mussulman,” an old form of “muslim,” reflecting the dish’s Islamic Persian origins.

Is this a spicy recipe?

No, gaeng massaman is mild to medium in spice and focuses more on a rich and creamy sauce rather than intense heat.

Authentic THai curry recipes

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Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 4 hour Total Time 4 hrs 20 mins
Servings: 3 Calories: 806

Description

Authentic gaeng massaman neua, a Thai beef massaman curry recipe full of rich and hearty flavors, perfectly spiced. Serve with jasmine rice.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Add 3.4 fl oz (100ml) of the coconut milk with water to a pot set over low heat. Place your beef chunks into the pot and allow them to simmer slowly for 2–3 hours. The beef should be fork-tender upon completion, but keep in mind that thicker cuts may require more time. If you own a pressure cooker, this is the perfect opportunity to use it and cut down on the cooking time.

  2. Once your beef is tender, remove it from the pot along with 10.15 fl oz (300ml) of the liquid it was braised in. Transfer both the meat and the liquid into a bowl and set aside.

  3. Pour 6.8 fl oz (200ml) of coconut milk into a wok and heat it over low-medium. Simmer the milk until you notice the coconut oil beginning to separate from the milk.

  4. Add the massaman curry paste to the wok. Stir and cook until oil starts appearing on the surface.

  5. Now, pour in the remaining coconut milk along with the reserved braised beef and liquid. Add the carrots, onions, potatoes, cinnamon stick, star anise, palm sugar, salt, tamarind paste, and fish sauce. Continue to simmer the curry until the potatoes and other vegetables reach your desired softness.

  6. Stir in the roasted peanuts and then remove the pot from the heat. Serve immediately with steamed rice. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts

Servings 3


Amount Per Serving
Calories 806kcal
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 54.8g85%
Saturated Fat 39.27g197%
Total Carbohydrate 44.93g15%
Dietary Fiber 12.4g50%
Sugars 18.37g
Protein 43.6g88%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Note

Keywords: gaeng massaman neua, Thai beef massaman curry, Thai massaman curry beef
About Author

Praew

I owned my own Thai restaurant and have years of experience in various other Thai restaurants. I've been whipping up classic Thai dishes by my mother's and grandma's side since I was just a little girl. Now I'm sharing my deep-rooted passion with my authentic Thai recipes on this food blog.

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