Beef massaman curry
- February 2018
- Serves 8 (or 4 as a main dish)
- Hands-on time 1 hour, oven time 3½ hours, simmering time 30 min
This fragrant beef massaman curry recipe is by Terry Blake and Yohini Nandakumar, owners of Sparrow restaurant.
The beef is slow-cooked in coconut milk for 3½ hours until seriously tender and then stirred through a punchy curry paste. It’s the ultimate make-ahead curry, served with roasted peanuts and crispy onions.
- Dairy-free recipes
- 23.4g (15.4g saturated)
- 3.6g (1.7g sugars)
- 400ml can organic coconut milk (see tips)
- 1 small cinnamon stick, halved
- 3 star anise
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3cm piece fresh ginger, halved
- 5 dried red chillies (we used kashmiri)
- 1.2kg British beef shin, cut into large chunks
- 250ml organic coconut cream (see tips)
- 1 tbsp tomato purée
- 30g roasted peanuts, plus extra to serve
- 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves (see tips), torn – or use 4-5 dried
- Splash fish sauce
- Juice 1 lime
- Fried lotus root (optional – see tips), crispy fried onions (ready-made are fine) and rice to serve
For the curry paste
- 100g Thai shallots (or banana shallots), quartered
- 1 small cinnamon stick, crumbled
- 6 cloves
- 3 cardamom pods, seeds removed
- 3 star anise
- 4 fresh bay leaves, cut into pieces
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 10g galangal root (see tips), finely chopped (or ½ tbsp galangal paste, from supermarkets)
- 1 tbsp shrimp paste (from the world food section of large supermarkets)
- 25g fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 1 lemongrass stalk, outer leaves removed and finely chopped
- 3 fresh kaffir lime leaves (see tips), torn – or use 4-5 dried
- 1 tbsp roasted peanuts, chopped
- 1 tbsp toasted coconut flakes
- Heat oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas 3. Pour the coconut milk into a large casserole with a lid and add the cinnamon, star anise, garlic, ginger and chillies. Stir in the beef and cover with the lid; cook in the oven for 3½ hours, giving it a stir halfway through, until the meat is tender and starting to fall apart.
- Meanwhile, for the curry paste, put a non-stick frying pan over a high heat and add the shallots. Dry fry for 5-10 minutes, turning occasionally, until lightly charred. In a spice grinder (or in a pestle and mortar), grind the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom seeds and star anise to a powder. Put the charred shallots and the remaining paste ingredients in the small bowl of a food processor and whizz until smooth (or pound in a large pestle and mortar), then add the ground spices and pulse/mix.
- Prepare the rest of the dish roughly 20 minutes before the beef is ready. Put the coconut cream in a deep frying pan or wok and cook over a medium heat until the oil separates (about 5-10 minutes). Add 2 tbsp of the curry paste (store the rest – see Make Ahead) and fry until fragrant, then stir in the tomato purée, 300ml cold water, 30g roasted peanuts and the lime leaves. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the fish sauce and lime juice.
- Once the beef is tender, remove from the oven and discard the cinnamon, star anise, ginger and chillies, then stir in the coconut/curry paste mixture. Bring the curry to a gentle simmer on the hob and cook for 25-30 minutes until it thickens and darkens.
- Serve the curry in warmed bowls topped with roasted peanuts, fried lotus root (if using) and crispy onions with cooked rice on the side.
Lotus root is common in Asian cooking. We wash and peel it, then slice thinly and fry in oil until crisp. Find it, along with fresh lime leaves and galangal root, in Asian grocers.
We like to use organic coconut milk and cream. It’s good because it doesn’t contain emulsifiers that stop it splitting, and you want the cream to split in step 3. We use Aroy-D, from Amazon and Asian grocers.
Make the curry up to 48 hours ahead and chill in a sealed container. Freeze in a food bag for up to 3 months; defrost in the fridge before reheating.
This recipe makes more curry paste than you’ll need. Freeze the rest for up to 3 months or chill, covered, for up to 3 weeks.
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