How NOT to Make Massaman Curry in 10 Minutes

10-minute massaman curry-3

And tweaking for the last few minutes.

Apart from enjoying the luxury of having dinner cooked for me, I’ve also found it fascinating to observe someone else’s cooking habits.

Now I don’t want to seem ungrateful because as I said, I love being cooked for. Nor do I mind waiting until 8.30pm or later to eat.

But having written a whole book focusing on 10 minute meals, you could say I’m a little obsessed with keeping the cooking process as streamlined and quick as possible.

So I wanted to share my observations, not to be critical, but to help you avoid as many time traps as possible next time you’re in the kitchen.

How NOT to Make Massaman Curry in 10 Minutes

1. Start cooking without a plan.
Having a good plan is key to speedy results in the kitchen. Having a collection of 10 Minute Recipes means all the difficult planning work has been done for you. But if you’re on your own, all you need to do is think through what’s going to take the longest to cook and get that part started first.

For example, my Irishman was making his massaman curry with potatoes (surprise, surprise). The spuds were easily going to take the longest to cook so this is where he could have started, to save loads of time standing around at the end waiting for the spuds to be ready.

2. Use a complicated cooking process.
While I’m all for maximising flavour, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of using a complicated cooking process when something much simpler would take a fraction of the time and still be delicious.

From our massaman example, my Irishman decided he wanted the beef to have an extra smoky flavour so he spent the extra time outside lighting the BBQ to grill the steaks before bringing them inside to finish off in the curry sauce.

3. Using indirect heat sources.
At the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious, the closer your food is to the heat, the quicker it cooks. For example, roasting nuts under the grill (broiler) will take 2-3 times longer than getting them in a pan directly on the stove.

4. Leave the cleaning up until later.
I know that ‘cleaning as you go’ sounds about as sexy as wet cardboard. But if you find yourself with a few minutes waiting for your nuts to roast or your spuds to soften, using the time to get a head start on the cleaning up will save you time later.

Try just putting away the ingredients you’re finished with or starting to stack (or unpack!) the dishwasher. It doesn’t have to be an epic effort to make a difference.

10-minute massaman curry-3

10-Minute Massaman Curry

Traditional massaman curry is a slow cooked, rich curry with coconut and peanuts. A real treat. In this version we’re quickly cooking some steak so we get tender beef without having to wait for hours. If you wanted extra smoky flavours you could cook your steaks on the BBQ and then slice before tossing into the sauce like my Irishman does, but it’s going to take longer!

Enough for 2-3
2 steaks, finely sliced
1 jar (200g / 7oz) massaman curry paste
1 can coconut milk (400mL / 14oz)
2-3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
1/2 cauliflower

1. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan on a very high heat. Stir fry steak until browned on the outside and still pink in the middle.

2. Pop the cooked steak in a clean bowl. Quickly add the curry paste and cook for a few seconds. Add coconut milk and peanut butter.

3. Simmer the sauce for about 5 minutes.

4. While the sauce is simmering grate your cauliflower using your food processor to give you cauliflower ‘rice’.

5. Return steak to the sauce and bring back to a simmer. Taste and season. Serve curry on a bed of the cauli ‘rice’.


vegan – replace steaks with about 500g (1lb) roasted sweet potato or butternut pumpkin chunks. No need to brown, just stir into the sauce. Cooked strips of red capsicum (bell pepper) are also lovely.

vegetarian – replace the steaks with about 4 hard boiled eggs that have been boiled, peeled & halved. You might like to add some roasted sweet potato as well.

nut-free – skip the peanut butter and season with a touch of brown sugar for sweetness. You could serve with a handful of coconut flakes if you like.

no cauliflower? – serve with steamed rice instead but it won’t be as healthy and will take much longer than 10 minutes!

slow cooked version – replace steaks with 2 large osso buco, beef short ribs or lamb shanks. Pop everything except the cauli and peanut butter in a cast iron, cover and bake at 150C (300F) for 4-5 hours or until your meat is super tender. If it starts to dry out, top up with a little water. When cooked stir in the peanut butter before serving.

greener – serve with a handful or coriander (cilantro) leaves on top. Or stir through some baby spinach to wilt just before serving.

can’t find massaman curry paste? – use a thai red curry paste instead and double the peanut butter.

hotter – massaman curries tend to be more rich and mild, so feel free to spike with a few fresh red chillies.

Video version of the recipe

5-Ingredients 10-Minutes!

5 ingredients 10 minutes cover image

My new print book is being published in the UK THIS WEEK(!) and in Australia next week! It’s now available to ORDER from and (my favourite book supplier because they have FREE shipping anywhere in the world!).

More details over here:

With love,
Jules x


  • Awesome tips Jules! I’m definitely a ‘clean up as you go’ kind of girl. It just means less work after you’ve finished eating when you just want to relax. My partner is such a good cook but makes the biggest mess when he gets in the kitchen and it’s such a pain!

    Great recipe as well… I’ll try the vego option ;)

  • I can relate, my Seth Efriken has just started cooking and looks like your Irishman and him are from the same cooking school!

  • When I was in my early 20s clean up was done when I wasn’t doing fun stuff but now it’s a must-do or I can’t bear the mess.

    • Maureen!
      I was the same when I was younger it didn’t bother me so much.. but now I HATE waking up to a dirty kitchen

  • I had to laugh when I read this! We alternate cooking nights, and my husband has been trying to cook a few new things beyond his ‘usual’ repertoire (hooray for me!!!). I can point him to this post so that when he says somethign like ‘ONLY YOU would do that….’, I can now reply with ‘Not just me – this is normal for others too :-)’.

    Love the quick curry recipe – I think we would opt for the vegetarian. Hmmm cauliflower and coconut with a sprinkling of coriander !

  • SOLID advice. And so true. I am terrible at watching my partner cook, and though I love eating food prepared by someone else, I’ve learned that I really can’t be anywhere near the preparation of the food. I can’t stop myself from taking over. Bad person – I know.

    • Not bad person at all Sarah!
      It’s natural to want to help when you can see a quicker and easier way of doing things…

  • So exicited as my pre-ordered book has now been dispatched from The Book Depository. Can’t wait for it to arrive….!

  • Great recipe. I just received an email saying that my book is on it’s way to me – can’t wait. A quick question about the recipe, do you NOT cook the cauliflower? Do you just shred it and then place it on the plate with the curry? I have been trying to use cauliflower a little more and especially use it to replace mashed potato but I steam and then mash it – not sure about raw cauliflower though.

    • Thanks for buying my book Suzanne!
      And great question… YES the cauliflower is served raw… you’d be amazed how delicious it is with the hot rich curry sauce… trust me :)

  • Hello Jules,

    I can’t find massaman curry, so I will red thai curry paste. How much? because 200 gr seems to be a lot of red curry paste.


  • Some time has passed since the post above. If you are still with the Irishman and he is still grilling the steaks first, please give him a pat on the back. 10 extra minutes to grill the steaks leaves 10 extra minutes for the wine to breathe, 10 extra minutes for the table to be set (by the one not cooking!) and/or 10 extra minutes for you to simply sit and anticipate the meal that is being prepared by him, for you. At the end of your life you won’t remember the 10 extra minutes that it took, but you may well remember the love that the Irishman put into making the meal for you…

    PS – Try toasted coconut with your cauliflower.

    • We’re still together AC – and you’ll be happy to know my Irishman is still taking pride in cooking things his way. I’ve long since learned to appreciate his approach :)

      And thanks for the toasted coconut idea – yum!

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