Beef Matsaman Curry
(แกงมัสมั่นเนื้อ ; gaaeng matsaman neuua)

September 17, 2009 · 11 comments · Click to listen to the Thai name pronunciation Listen to the Thai name pronunciation


Matsaman curry gets its entire flavor from the rich combination of spices, palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind sauce.

I love the way the richness of the beef come through the spices with a clear three tastes; starting with sweet followed by sour and then salty. The addition of the potatoes thickens the curry just enough and the roasted peanuts add a beautiful crunchy tone.

No wonder this dish, somewhat a newcomer to the Thai cuisine, was crowned by some authors as the most complex and time consuming Thai curry to make.

Matsaman is believed to have arrived Siam with the first Persian envoy to the court of Ayutthaya in the 16th century.

Grandma Waow Wongthai, Now 92 years old, is well familiar with authentic Thai cooking since childhood. Her father used to be a “Than khun” (ท่านขุน ; Non-hereditary Thai royal title) and she often cooked for the many guests who visited their home. Matsaman beef curry is one of the dishes she is still renowned for.

The following version of Beef Matsaman curry is Grandma Waow’s recipe

I have made it countless times myself, and not surprisingly, Matsaman curry never tasted better than that!

Note: If you like curries with the thickness and complexity of the Matsaman Curry, you will surely enjoy Northern Style Hang Lay Curry.


Beef Matsaman Curry Recipe


  • 500gr Beef, cut into 2 inches cubes
  • 6 cups Coconut milk
  • 1 cup Coconut cream
  • 2 1/2 TBS Palm sugar
  • 5 TBS Tamarind sauce
  • 5 TBS Fish sauce
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 cup Roasted peanuts
  • 2 Big Onions cut into quarters
  • 4 Thai black Cardamon pods
  • 1/2 cup of vegetable oil

For the Curry Paste you will need:

  • 1 1/2 tsp Coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
  • 4 Cloves
  • 4 Peeled Thai black Cardamon pods.
  • 1 inch Cinnamon bark
  • 1 Dried Mace (ดอกจันทร์)
  • 1 Inner part of Nutmeg nut (ลูกจันทร์)
  • 9 Long dry Chilies
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp White pepper corns
  • 1 TBS Galangal
  • 2 Lemongrass
  • peel of 1/2 kaffir lime
  • 12 big or 30 small Thai garlic cloves
  • 5 Small Thai Shallots
  • 1 tsp Shrimp paste (kapi)


  1. work well freshly grated coconut with approximately the same amount of lukewarm water
  2. strain and keep aside. the first squeeze is mostly consists of coconut cream, the cream separates and floats on top of the thinner liquid. one good coconut yields about a cup of coconut cream
  3. repeat the process to extract the coconut milk.
  4. cut the beef into small egg size chunks
  5. arrange the beef in a cooking pot and fill with coconut milk to cover
  6. bring to a boil
  7. skim off the scum
  8. cover and cook for couple of hours, or until the beef is very tender and soft
  9. check often and add liquids as necessary
  10. set aside
  11. in a small saucepan dissolve tamarind pulps with boiling water, strain and set aside
  12. in a small saucepan soak dry red chilies in boiling water until soft, strain and set aside
  13. slightly roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon bark, whole nutmeg nut, mace, cardamon and cloves.
  14. roast until very fragrant. be careful not to burn the spices.
  15. finely ground the spices in a mortar and pestle. set aside
  16. finely chop (in this order) lemongrass, galanga, garlic shallots and kaffir lime peel. set aside
  17. start making the curry paste by pounding the red chilies with a bit of salt as an abrasive
  18. gradually add the chopped ingredients, starting with the hardest ingredient to the softer
  19. the paste should be as fine as possible, eliminating all the textures of the raw ingredients preserving only their flavors
  20. add white pepper corns and shrimp paste
  21. add the finely ground spices and mix well. the end product should have a combined, full and rounded aroma
  22. in a small saucepan fry the curry paste with 1/2 cup of oil
  23. gradually add the coconut cream and cook until the coconut cracks
  24. pour the curry paste and coconut cream over the cooked meat
  25. when boils, add potatoes and cook until soft
  26. add onions and cook for extra 5 minutes
  27. season with palm sugar, tamarind sauce, salt and fish sauce. taste and adjust flavors
  28. finish with freshly roasted peanuts and unpeeled black Thai cardamon pods
  29. cook for another last 3 minutes….

View video demonstration at:

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }


You forgot to list how many potatoes.

Best website on Thai foods.

Videos are excellent.



Yeah, how many potatoes is it? 3 large?

Is it possible to replace the tamarind juice with tamarind paste? If so, how much paste should I use?



yes, just about… regarding the tamarind, hard to say, it really depends on its acidity, you want to achieve only a background sourness…..


Hello Hanuman,
I am going to try your recipe and compare to mine. It looks very interesting using that much nutmeg and with far less liquid when finished, as it looks like on the video you poor off most of the coconut milk that the beef has been cooked in before adding the coconut cream paste. Is that correct, only it does not say that in the recipe and with only 1 cup of coconut cream is there enough liquid to cook the pototoes until soft, as this can take some time at a simmer. The comment above says 3 large potatoes but in the video it looks like 2 medium approx 350grms. One more question, I can’t get blade mace, how much powdered mace should I use. I hate to be such a pain but I like to get things correct before I start rather than stuffing it up. It would be much appreciated if you could answer these questions and I’ll get back to you on the end result.



hello Michael, i cook the beef in coconut milk until its soft and tender, you may add water along the way, but you only want little of those water, just for the flavor, what you want is the silky texture of the coconut cream undiluted by the cooking fluids….

cooking the potatoes should not be a long process and there should be enough fluids to work with, you can always add some more if you need just as the potatoes are done to force the creaminess…

reg. the potatoes, 2-3 will do, i didn’t weight it when i prepared the video, use as much as it takes ;-))

mace, i guess about 2 teaspoons…. cheers, hanuman

Gae in

I love your curry paste ingredients…That’s right


Luci Ott

Hi, I just graduated from culinary school. My friends want me to give them a class in Thai food. I am not familiar with a lot Thai dishes. What dishes would u recommend for a menu?. We are going to cook in a barbeque grill. I am so glad I found your website. I will put it in my favorites, so I can watch all of your videos. Thank You!!



Hi Hanuman,

Thank you for your website.

I am quite new to cooking and I want to be able to make a Beef Matsaman Curry anywhere near the shop around the corner from me so I can stop spending money I don’t have. I want to eat your recipe every time I see it but for my cooking skills it is quite complex and I’m really going to have to work at it.

So I was wondering if you are aware of any differences between my takeaway in Australia and your recipe. The one around the corner tastes very good but I have no idea if it is authentic or not. Is there any way for me to tell.

I have made a few Beef Matsaman Curry recipes (easier looking ones) from youtube before and they don’t come close to the taste or texture.




hard to say, they probably use pre-made curry paste, and adding what they think will sell and omitting what they cant easily get or not worth it commercially.


Hello Hanuman,

Can we replace the beef with lamb in this recipe?

Do you have any lamb recipes to recommend?

Many thanks.



yes, you can. Matsaman Curry has it roots in Indian origin and the spices would fit perfectly to lamb

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