gaeng massaman neua - massaman curry of braised beef shin, peanuts and roasted shallots


gaeng massaman neua

massaman curry of braised beef shin, peanuts and roasted shallots


Massaman curries are rich coconut cream based curries, mild in chilli spice but redolent of Indian spices such as anise, cassia and cumin - which came to Thailand along the spice routes. This recipe uses beef shin, but the curry works well with lamb, goat, duck or chicken.


Chefs tip: cooking the beef and roasting the shallots can be done in advance. In fact, the whole curry can also be cooked the day before. Like a good stew, it’s probably even better the next day.

Serves 2



For beef and potatoes:

350g of (ideally dry aged) beef shin, off the bone and cut into large (about 5cm square) chunks.

4 - 6 new potatoes peeled and cooked in lightly salted water.

a tin of coconut milk, set aside two tablespoons of the thick cream from the top for the shallots - see below.

1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces and toasted briefly in a dry frying pan.

1 star anise, toasted briefly in a dry frying pan.

1 dried bay leaf, toasted briefly in a dry frying pan.

½ a small onion


For the shallots:

150g of shallots (round shallots, or small banana shallots), unpeeled.

2 tablespoons of thick coconut cream - the thick part from the top of the tin.

1 cinnamon stick, broken into pieces.

1 star anise.

For the curry:

60g of som saa vegan massaman curry paste.

1.5 tablespoons of raw, skinless peanuts.

1 tin of organic coconut milk.

2 tablespoons of coconut oil.

1 level tablespoon (around 15g) of palm sugar - ideally good quality 100% coconut sugar.

1.5 tablespoons of fish sauce.

125ml of the beef braising liquid - see below.

1.5 teaspoons of tamarind water, or if unavailable the juice of half a tangerine.



First blanch the beef: put the beef in a pot and cover with cold water, add a generous teaspoon of salt, place on a medium heat. Once the water begins simmering, drain and rinse the beef, discarding the water.

Return the pot to the stove and add the coconut milk, onion, dry spices and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to the simmer and add the beef, if needed top the pan up with enough water to just cover the beef and now simmer very gently for 2 - 2.5 hours, or until the beef is starting to become tender (you can cut into it with a spoon). Remove the beef from the pan, and reserve half a cup (about 120ml) of the beef braising liquid.

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Place the shallots and spices in the middle of a large sheet of tin foil, spoon over the coconut cream and then fold over the foil sides to create a sealed parcel. Place it on a tray in the oven and bake for 40 - 50 minutes, or until the shallots inside are soft and somewhat caramelised. Once cool, slip them out of their skins and side aside.

To cook the curry: skim two tablespoons of the thick cream from the top of your can of coconut milk and add it to a pan with the coconut oil, turn the heat to medium-high and allow the cream to boil, become oily and reduce slightly.

Now turn the heat to medium-low and add the curry paste and peanuts, fry slowly in the oily cream for around 4-5 minutes, stirring regularly, until slightly darkened and aromatic and the oil rises to the surface.

Now add in your palm sugar and stir in to melt, cook for another minute before adding the fish sauce. Cook for a minute before adding the beef braising stock, the remaining thick coconut milk (discard the rest of the thin milk, or keep and use for another recipe) and the reserved beef braising liquid.

Add the tamarind water (or tangerine juice), the braised beef, cooked potatoes, roasted shallots and reserved spices, and simmer gently for 6 - 7 minutes more and then taste: the curry should taste rich, slightly sweet and well seasoned, with a background fruitiness from the tamarind water / tangerine juice.

Turn off the heat and serve.

Eat with jasmine rice (and ideally with one or two other Thai dishes, to make a balanced Thai style meal).