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Photograph: Rosa's Thai Cafe
Photograph: Rosa's Thai Cafe

Rosa’s Thai has revealed the recipe for its beef massaman curry

It’s creamy, hearty and luxurious

Written by
Kate Lloyd

Saiphin Moore, founder of Rosa’s Thai, first cooked a massaman curry for a dinner party when she was living in Hong Kong. ‘Because I was from the north of Thailand,’ she says, ‘I didn’t grow up with this dish as it’s more popular in the south. Over the years, I've perfected the recipe and I have been using it ever since.’ Now the dish is one of the most popular on the menu at the East End restaurant. This is how you make it at home. 

Beef massaman curry

What you need to buy

1⁄2 teaspoon cumin.
Five cardamom pods.
Five cloves.
One small cinnamon stick (or 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon).
Two tablespoons vegetable oil.
Two generous tablespoons massaman curry paste.
Three bay leaves.
One medium onion, roughly chopped.
400ml coconut milk, plus extra to serve.
One teaspoon caster sugar.
Two tablespoons Thai fish sauce (use two teaspoons of salt instead for a vegetarian version).
Two tablespoons tamarind paste.
One potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces.
200g beef sirloin, cut into bite-sized pieces. (You can swap the beef for a firm tofu, and cut into one-inch chunks for a veggie-friendly version.)
Two tablespoons of beef or vegetable stock (optional).
Two tablespoons roasted cashew nuts.
Five pieces of chopped pineapple.
Sea salt.
Steamed rice, to serve.

What you need to do

1. Roast the cumin, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon in a dry frying pan set over a medium heat, stirring continuously for a few minutes, until their aroma fills the air. Crush the spices using a pestle and mortar and set aside.

2. Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium-high heat. Stir in the curry paste, crushed roasted spices, bay leaves and onion and cook until it is fragrant and the oil separates and rises to the surface.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for two minutes.

4. Add half the coconut milk and stir for one minute.

5. Add the caster sugar, fish sauce and a pinch of salt. Cook for a minute, then stir in the tamarind sauce.

6. Add the potato and the beef. Simmer for ten to 15 minutes until the beef is tender.

7. Add the rest of the coconut milk. If the sauce still seems too dry, add a little more stock.

8. Cook for another minute until everything is mixed well, then add the nuts and pineapple.

9. Season to taste. The curry should have a perfect balance of salty, sweet and sour.

10. Ladle into a serving bowl and drizzle some coconut milk over it.

11. Serve with steamed rice, and enjoy!

More iconic London recipes:

Dishoom’s chai

Padella’s pici cacio e pepe

Gloria’s lemon meringue pie

Eggslut’s Fairfax sandwich 

Berber & Q’s cauliflower shawarma

Bao’s braised pork buns

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