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Slow Cooker Massaman Beef Curry

A traditional South Thai curry with Massaman curry paste for a fragrant finish. Serve with boiled rice to let the flavour of the curry shine through.

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Slow Cooker Massam Beef Curry


500g / 1lb 2oz of new potatoes
800g / 1lb 13oz of stewing beef steak or beef shin
Large can (400ml) of coconut milk
3 level tablespoons of massaman curry paste
Approximately 5cm / 2in piece of root ginger
1 teaspoon of sugar (light muscavado is best but normal sugar will do well)
1 lime
1 tablespoon of fish sauce (available from most supermarkets)
60g / 2oz of roast peanuts (salted or unsalted)
Small bunch of fresh coriander


20 minutes


8 hours 10 minutes








1 medium pan, slow cooker.
Ingredients for Massaman Curry
Some of the prepared ingredients for Massaman Curry


Cut each new potato into three or four.
Chop the beef into 4cm  / 1½ inch cubes.
Peel then grate the ginger.
Cut the lime in half and put one half to one side for use when serving.
Grate the zest (surface) of the other lime half and squeeze the juice out as well.
Break all the peanuts into their two halves.
Finely chop half the coriander, keep the remainder in a cool place.


Massaman is a curry paste mixture which consists of chillies and lots of fragrant spices. Like many Thai dishes the emphasis is on fragrance with only a background heat from the chillies. We checked availability of Massaman curry paste and both Tesco and Waitrose stock it but Asda and Sainsbury's do not. It costs just under £2 for a jar which will be enough for several curries.

The recipe originates from southern Thailand but from the ingredients used to make the Massaman curry paste it's clear that the paste anyway has lots of Indian influence. Wherever it comes from it tastes delicious.

Ask anyone who has cooked Massaman Curry in a conventional pan and they will tell you that it tastes better when left in the fridge overnight. Cooking it in a slow cooker does an even better job of letting the flavours develop. Traditionally Massaman Curry is cooked with beef although chicken, lamb or even pork go well.

Slow cooking the beef tenderises it and this curry will be cooked for eight hours so use a cheap cut of meat such as stewing steak or beef shin. We don't believe that the beef needs to fried in a pan before adding it to the slow cooker. The benefits of pre-frying are often said to add colour and seal the beef. Well, take our word for it, slow cooking beef pieces in a curry sauce will result in a brown colour without frying.

As for sealing the beef pieces that again is wrong. When slow cooking a curry you want the beef pieces to open up slightly (and they do exactly that) as they tenderise.

Having said that, this is not quite a one pot dish. If you want the full flavour of the Massam Curry to develop it seems best to fry the paste with a few other ingredients in a pan first - it only takes three minutes.

Recipe by .



Place the curry paste, chopped coriander and ginger in a medium sized pan on a medium heat and fry for two minutes stirring almost continuously. Pour in the coconut milk and bring to a boil. 

Add sugar, lime zest, lime juice and fish sauce. Stir well and pour into the slow cooker.

 Uncooked Massaman Curry in slow cooker


Add the meat and the potatoes to the slow cooker and give a quick stir.

Cover and cook for eight hours on the low setting. When the curry is cooked stir well and taste for seasoning. Add more fish sauce if a saltier taste is wanted.

Cooked Massaman Curry in slow cooker 


Warm a serving bowl and pour the curry into it. Scatter the chopped peanuts and remaining coriander leaves over the curry and serve.

Plain boiled rice is the best accompaniment to Massaman Beef Curry, it lets the flavour of the curry shine through.

 Massaman Curry


Fragrant Chicken Curry
Pork and Potato Hotpot
Easy Beef Stew
Bean Soup
2 RATINGS GIVEN - AVERAGE 4 star rating
5 star rating 29 September 2012 From: George
An absolute delight.

3 star rating 14 November 2012 From: Dennis Shaw
All the ingredients placed in the slow cooker, dried up after 6 hours cooking, no way you can cook this for 8 hours. Did taste great though although a bit dry.

OK, thanks for that comment. We'll re-cook in the next week and see how it goes. I'll then respond back.
ANSWER: Well, we cooked the curry again, for the third time and it was very moist, creamy in fact and in no way dry. You can see from the pictures above what the curry looked like in the slow cooker after 8 hours. So there must have been a problem in the method you used. We assume you had the lid in the slow cooker? Also, it should have been set to low as per the recipe? The final reason might have been that you used too little coconut milk, a small can rather than a large one?
Give it a try again and we promise, as the pictures show, it is deliciously moist and creamy.


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