Recipes, Beef Recipes

Massaman curry w/ beef shorts ribs

Massaman curry is known throughout the world but most traditional recipes I’ve encountered are highly time consuming and complex. Don’t let that put you off as the rewards are great for those that want to make this Muslim-Thai curry at home.

At its core, my version has a curry paste that requires dry toasting the aromatic ingredients and uses various dried spices to bring deep layers of flavour. If you don’t have time to make the curry paste from scratch then use a shop-bought paste.

Massaman curry w/ beef short ribs recipe

Massaman curry w/ beef short ribs recipe

Recipe by

Serves 4


  • Curry paste ingredients
  • 6 dried long red chilli, deseeded and soaked in cold water until soft

  • 3 tbsp lemongrass, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 2 tbsp galangal, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1 tbsp ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 4 tbsp shallot, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 4 tbsp garlic, peeled and thinly sliced

  • 1 tbsp coriander root or stem

  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

  • ½ tbsp shrimp paste, toasted in banana leaf or foil

  • 1 tsp coriander seed, briefly toasted and ground into a fine powder

  • ½ tsp cumin seed, briefly toasted and ground into a fine powder

  • 2 whole cloves, briefly toasted and ground into a fine powder

  • 1 mace sheath, briefly toasted and ground into a fine powder

  • ½ tsp nutmeg, briefly toasted and ground into a fine powder

  • ½ tsp white peppercorn, briefly toasted and ground into a fine powder

  • Beef short ribs ingredients
  • 4 x 350g Beef Short Ribs

  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 3-4 tbsp fish sauce

  • 600ml coconut milk

  • 4-inch piece cassia bark, briefly toasted

  • 2 whole star anise, briefly toasted

  • 4 whole white cardamom, briefly toasted

  • 1 piece dried mandarin peel

  • 2 fresh bay leaves

  • 1 pandanus leaf, knotted

  • Gaeng massaman ingredients
  • 4 tbsp curry paste

  • 2 tbsp reserved coconut oil/beef fat, from searing short ribs

  • 160ml coconut cream

  • 2-3 tbsp palm sugar

  • 2 tbsp fish sauce

  • 250ml coconut milk

  • 150ml braising liquor, from braising short ribs

  • 1-2 tbsp tamarind concentrate

  • braised beef short ribs cut into bite-size pieces

  • 8 medium Jersey Royal potatoes

  • 400ml coconut milk or water for potato poaching

  • 2 tbsp large sultanas

  • 1 small shallot, peeled and very thinly sliced with the grain

  • vegetable oil for deep frying


  • Curry paste directions:
  • Add the lemongrass, galangal, ginger, coriander root, shallot, and garlic to a large pan or wok. Dry toast over a medium heat to give colour and evaporate some of the water content from the ingredients. This will concentrate the flavour and give a roasted, smoky flavour — about 10 minutes.
  • Toast all the dry spices and blitz to a fine powder.
  • Pound all ingredients in a large granite pestle and mortar until very smooth.
  • Beef short ribs directions:
  • Roll the beef short rib in the fish sauce and then sear in coconut oil in a hot pan, giving a nice colour and crust to the outside of the meat. Reserve the rendered fat and oil for cooking your curry paste out later. 
  • Bring the coconut milk to a boil and set aside.
  • Add the beef short rib to a tight-fitting oven dish, cover with the coconut milk, and add the spices and remaining ingredients. Cover with a cartouche and a lid.
  • Place in a preheated oven (160°C) and braise for 2 hours. Check the short rib after this time. The desired cook is soft and yielding from the bone but without completely falling to pieces as the meat will be sliced to go through the finished curry. Cook for longer if necessary.
  • Strain the braising liquor and reserve for cooking out the curry sauce later. If you want to reserve the whole dried spices, these can be added to the final curry for presentation.
  • Gaeng massaman directions:
  • Add the Jersey Royal potatoes to a pan and cover with the coconut milk or water. Bring to a boil and simmer until cooked through. Set aside for later.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a small pan to around 150°C. In batches, add the thinly sliced shallot and stir continually. Allow to cook until golden and crispy, remove from the oil and drain well on absorbent paper. Repeat until all the shallots are fried.
  • Combine the thick coconut cream and reserved coconut oil/rendered fat in a heavy-based pan. Warm over medium heat until the oil forms a sheen on the surface of the cream, about 2 minutes.
  • Add curry paste and cook until fully incorporated with the cream. Continue to fry until the paste becomes fragrant and darkens — this indicates the rawness from the curry paste has been cooked out, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the palm sugar and fish sauce and allow to cook into the paste. Then add the remaining coconut milk and beef braising stock. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer and cook for a further 4 minutes until the sauce develops an oily sheen on the surface.
  • At this point, you should have a medium-thick sauce that is rich in smell and colour. It will taste sweet, rich, and complex from the dried spices. Adjust the seasoning as you deem appropriate.
  • Add the beef short rib, sultanas, and poached Jersey Royal potatoes and bring to a simmer to warm all the ingredients together.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to sit for a minute so the flavours can develop together. Taste again and add tamarind concentrate to lighten the seasoning and make the final curry slightly fresh tasting — sweet, sour and salty.
  • Serve garnished with a splash of coconut cream and crispy fried shallots. Eat with steamed jasmine rice.