Thai Beef Curry (Masaman)


serves: 4 - 6
2.5cm piece of lemon grass, outer leaves discarded
2 tablespoons chopped coriander root and stalk
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
2 green cardamoms
2 cloves
2 shallots or 1 small onion, unpeeled
1 garlic clove, unpeeled
600 ml coconut milk
1 tablespoon groundnut or olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
500g brisket or silverside, cut into 2.5cm cubes
1/2 teaspoon demerara sugar
3 kaffir lime leaves
1/2 small pineapple, peeled and chopped
Freshly ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F, gas mark 4. Put the lemon grass, coriander root and stalk, cumin seeds, cardamoms and cloves on a baking tray and roast in the oven at for about 10 minutes. Alternatively, put them in a heavy frying pan and brown them on the stove, stirring them with a wooden spoon frequently.

2. Peel the shallots or onion and garlic and place in a blender with the roasted ingredients. Add all the groundnut oil and lemon juice with 3 tablespoons of the coconut milk and blend until you have a smooth paste.

3. Put this curry paste in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and stir continuously for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the meat, and stir until all the cubes are coated with the paste. Cover the pan for 3 minutes only, uncover and stir, and add the remaining coconut milk, demerara sugar, kaffir lime leaves and seasoning to taste.

4. Bring this to the boil, turn down the heat a little and let the curry bubble, uncovered, for 1½ hours. By this time the sauce will have thickened quite a lot. Adjust the seasoning, add the pineapple and continue cooking, stirring all the time, for 10 to 15 minutes.

5. Serve hot with plenty of plain boiled rice accompanied by cooked vegetables or salad.

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