Pressure cooker, Weeknight dinner
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Pressure Cooker Massaman Beef Curry

Pressure Cooker Massaman Beef Curry

Pressure Cooker Massaman Beef Curry

I want to make Thai curries at home, but the ingredient list always scares me. I love shopping at local Asian markets, but…shrimp paste? Magroot skin? Galangal? I would only use them once. The few times I’ve made a curry, I’ve used jarred spice pastes….but that’s cheating, right?

Then I had my lucky break. Leela at specializes in Thai cooking. She recommends spice paste over buying the individual ingredients, particularly if you’re just starting out with Thai curries.

That was all I needed – I was off and running with my spice pastes. Well, I thought I was, until I had a Massaman curry at Madam Mam’s, and chose that as my first curry to work on for the blog. Who knew jars of Massaman curry paste were hard to find? Luckily, I had the power of the internet on my side, and after a false start where Massaman curry paste magically turned into green curry paste while shipping, I was stocked and ready to go.
*Also, I broke Leela’s rule #5 of Massaman curry – I used a pressure cooker. Sorry, Leela…but I followed all most of your other rules, OK? OK.

The results were amazing. Yes, even with the pressure cooker. Not sure what Leela has against them, but it sure worked for me. Massaman curry has a lot of spice flavor, but it isn’t all that hot. It was a big hit with the kids. (At least the ones willing to taste it.) Looking for a delicious Thai curry in about an hour? Fire up the pressure cooker and give this one a try.
*No Pressure Cooker? No worries. See the Variations section for cooking instructions with a standard dutch oven.

Recipe: Pressure Cooker Massaman Beef Curry

Adapted from: Leela Punyaratabandhu Massaman Curry []


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Pressure Cooker Massaman Beef Curry

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 1x


Pressure Cooker Massaman beef curry from Thailand, with the help of a jar of curry paste.


  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled, cut into 1/2 inch wedges
  • 13.5-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup Massaman curry paste (a whole 4-ounce can)
  • 3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1 cup chicken stock or water
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind paste (plus more to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar (plus more to taste)
  • 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes, rinsed and scrubbed


  • 1/3 cup dry-roasted peanuts, crushed


  1. Brown the onions: Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in the pressure cooker pot until shimmering. Add the onion wedges and cook without moving for 4 minutes, until well browned on one side. Remove to a plate.
  2. Fry the curry paste: Scoop the cream from the top of the can of coconut milk – it should yield about a cup of cream – and add it to the pot. Stir in the curry paste. Cook, stirring often, until the curry paste starts to fry, about 8 minutes.
  3. Pressure cook the curry: Sprinkle the beef with the kosher salt. Add the beef to the pot, and stir to coat with curry paste. Stir in the rest of the coconut milk, chicken stock, fish sauce, soy sauce, tamarind paste, brown sugar, and the cooked onions. Float the new potatoes on top of the liquid in the pot. Lock the lid on the pressure cooker and cook on high pressure (manual mode in my Instant Pot) for 15 minutes with an electric PC, or 12 minutes with a stovetop PC. Let the pressure come down naturally, about 20 minutes.
  4. Finish the curry: Remove the potatoes from the pot with a slotted spoon, cut each in half, and stir back into the pot. Taste the curry for seasoning, adding more fish sauce, tamarind paste, or brown sugar as needed. Ladle the curry into bowls, sprinkle with some of the roasted peanuts, and serve with Jasmine rice.
  • Category: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Thai
Browning the onions

Browning the onions

Skimming the coconut cream

Skimming the coconut cream


Frying the curry paste with the cream

Frying the curry paste with the cream

Everything in the pot...

Everything in the pot…


  • No pressure cooker? No worries. Use a heavy bottomed dutch oven with a lid, and increase the amount of chicken stock to 2 cups. Follow the instructions right up until “lock the lid”. Then, instead of pressure cooking, bring the pot to a boil and cover with the lid. Move the pot to a preheated 350*F oven and bake for 3 hours, until the beef is tender. Continue with the serving step.
  • Don’t use low fat coconut milk – you need the heavy cream for frying the curry paste. Also, don’t shake the can, so the heavy cream is still on top and can be scraped out of the can.
Fish sauce, coconut milk, curry paste, tamarind

Back: Fish sauce, coconut milk, curry paste. Front: tamarind paste

What do you think? Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

Related Posts:

Pressure Cooker Chinese Pork with Dried Plum Sauce
Pressure Cooker Lamb and Barley Stew
Click here for my other pressure cooker recipes.

Adapted from:

Leela Punyaratabandhu Massaman Curry []

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. Whoops – the 4 ounces is not a typo, but the 4 tablespoons is. It should be 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons).

  2. Kath says

    Tried this recipe — it was perfection. So happy with results. Thanks so much

  3. Reachsnehal says

    Does the pc method also get the beef tender like the simmer/oven method? I wanted to make this for my toddler who loves the restaurant version of the curry with the tender beef. So though I prefer the PC most times, i can plop it in the oven otherwise.

  4. Heather Urry says

    Loved this! Great flavors that came together quickly plus it gave me the opportunity to check out a new-to-me Asian market in the area (Full Moon Market, Lynn, MA). Thanks! (P.S. I don’t think the soy sauce is referenced in the instructions; I added it in step 3, which seemed fine.)

  5. Yes, I’m a fan of Bryond Salmon; it is one of my favorite blogs.

    I’m glad you took my recipe and ran with it. Personally, I like the effect long cooking has on the curry paste. I think it helps meld the flavors of the entire dish. This is one of those things where tastes differ; your style is different from mine…and that’s a good thing!

  6. Peter says

    Hi Mike,

    I’m a great fan of Thai curries but, until I saw your post, have been cooking Massaman curries with beef shin and without a pressure cooker. Following the traditional method this can take as long as 3.5 hours before the beef is tender.  After this long time cooking I find the curry paste has lost some of it’s zest.

    So I thought I would try your wonderful pressure cooker method but, if you will forgive me, with a slight twist. What I did was cook the shin in a minimal amount of water at high pressure until meltingly tender.  Then I removed the shin and it’s juices and fried the paste in the coconut cream and continued as per your method adding back the meat and it’s juices and the other ingedients.  Simmer for 20 minutes as you cook the rice. After this time the potatoes and onions are done and it is all gorgeous.

    Although it takes a bit longer the advantage of this twist is that fragile aromatics in the paste are not exposed to high temperatures or long cooking times.  I’m taking as my cue for this some comments made by Lorna Sass in her Ratatouille video where she says that pressure cookers can diminish the flavours of things like garlic and oregano.  I’ve certainly found this to be true.

    Anyway I hope this helps. I really do enjoy your blog so keep up the good work.  By the way have you come across Helen Rennie’s blog “Beyond Salmon”? She, like you, takes an intelligent and interesting approach to revisiting and improving on many of the ways we’ve cooked food in the past.

    All the best,

  7. I didn’t have any problems with lingering odors. If anything, the sealed pressure cooker should trap the smells more than a regular pan or pot. But then, I hear people complain about the house smelling for days after cooking fish; I notice it for a few hours, but not much after that, so maybe I adjust quicker to the smell.

  8. Marianne says

    I love cooking curries, I usually use a covered saute pan and let them simmer slowly for an hour to soften the protein, which is usually chicken legs.

    I cooked a lovely indian curry using a ready made jar of korma sauce in my pressure cooker (= curry in a hurry!) using chicken legs… the results were divine in less than 20 minutes… the smell WAS NOT.  My appartment stank for days!  I aired it out to no avail, had to wash/wipe everything in the kitchen including the carpets and the curtains and dissassemble my vent (yes i had one!) to clean the stinky grease off of the fan and replace the filter before I got any relief.

    How did the others manage?  I see no mention of the stinkies here

    • Susan says

      When releasing your pressure do it under your exhaust range fan, or as I do d I’m using the cooktop for other things try popping a folded hand towel over the steam vent , to absorb the steam, ..alternatively pressure cook a couple of lemons with a cup of water for a few minutes and quick release that lovely scented steam through your home, I do that when I’ve been cooking fish

  9. Amy Stern says

    I love following recipes that have pictures so that I know what it should look like.  I can’t wait to try it.  I buy beef online, and store it in my freezer so that any time I want to cook, I just pull it out.  I only use grass fed beef which I get from La Cense Beef.  You should try their meat.  It’s the best.

  10. I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would.

    In the month I’ve been using it, I’ve found two downsides, and one big advantage. The downside is the size – my stovetop PC is a massive, 12 quart Kuhn Rikon. I was trying to cram a frozen duck carcass into the Cuisinart, and it just wouldn’t fit, and I come up to the maximum fill amount almost every time I use it. The second downside is speed – it seems slower to come up to pressure than my stovetop.

    The big upside is the set it and forget it factor. I can fill it and walk away; the electric Cusinart comes to pressure, levels itself off, cooks unattended, and shuts down to warming mode off when the cooking time is done. I find myself making small batches of stock or dried beans more often because I can toss everything in the pot and come back a couple hours later – no muss, no fuss.

    Now, if only they made a ten to twelve quart model…

  11. Thank you! The only real downside I’ve found to pressure cooking is the lack of evaporation. It took me a while to figure out how much (or, more accurately, how little) liquid to add to pressure cooker recipes; my stews kept coming out very watery.

  12. Great! I’m glad you liked it. I love Al’s. I need to stop by – my stash of frozen hungarian sausage from Al’s just ran out. Sorry to see Tim go at Crown Point, but I heard it’s leaving him more time to read my blog – he’s doing all the cooking for his family now. (Go, Tim!)

  13. Wykes says

    What did you think of the electric pc? The Cuisinart pc is the only pc I’ve ever used and I love it. Does it work different than your stovetop one?

  14. Joebobson says

    Well, some reactions that produce flavor compounds don’t occur under pressure.  The Maillard reaction and carmelization are examples, though it shouldn’t be in play here, because you’re browning and reserving, cooking the paste open, etc.  Marinara benefits from long slow cooking, and can take on acrid bitterness if cooked too fast or accidentally spiking. 

    I think the bias against pressure cooking comes from a few dishes that have been over or underdone, or weren’t flavored/browned/spiced appropriately.  You can end up with mush, and many assume you only get mush if they’ve only ever had mush.  The slow-cooker bias is the same, and as much due  to incompetence as inadequate equipment.   Some people really enjoy cooking as a time-consuming labor of love, and in some cases there isn’t a way around that.  I don’t think this is one of those.  I tend to think people who prohibit a recipe in a slow cooker or a pressure cooker either don’t know how to use them properly or have had bad experiences, or both.  Rarely is a genuine reason with solid underlying chemical rationale given. 

  15. Kjalics says

    Not a comment about this particular recipe, though it sounds very good, but a thank you for mentioning Al’s Quality Meats and Al’s Corner Restaurant in the “ethnic markets in Akron” under your header. Today my daughter, sister in law, 1 yr. old grandson and I had the sampler plates and it was a delicious lunch! (We also shared an almond cheese strudel.) My daughter and I belong to Crown Point and Tim Knorr first mentioned your blog to me.

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