Sunday, March 25, 2012

Currying Flavour - Beef Curry and Trimmings

Beef Curry with Rice, Dhal and all the trimmings
I've been asked to share my recipe for Beef Curry over on Facebook so I thought the best way is to post it for posterity on my blog! This way everyone can enjoy it and it'll link to Twitter and Facebook. I have a really simple approach to curries - don't be a curry snob is the starting point and then it's straightforward after that!

I lived in Bangladesh over 30 years ago for over 2 years as a young Concern volunteer and that was the start of my love affair with kari or what we know as curry. (Along with another love affair but that's a whole 'nother story!). Ireland in the '70s wouldn't have been a hotbed of exotic epicurean delights and we were just about getting used to yoghurt and pasta as fancy foreign food, so for me going to Asia and encountering Bangladeshi cuisine was a real eye-opener. I got to love the food, the lack of spuds didn't bother me too much as I adored the rice staple, either boiled or fried as Biryani, and there was the added bonus that I lost 2 stone (about 14kg) in the first three months there from a combination of amoebic dysentery and a healthier diet with lots of rice and delicious fruit.

This paradox is quite explainable as I had a steep adjustment to make in relation to building resistance to bugs in water and the environment and I'd say all us sensitive Irish nurses and teachers and engineers and agriculturalists had to cross that Rubicon! Once we got over the first nasty dose we were pretty well assured of cast-iron constitutions for the duration of our stay - which was just as well as I loved street food and lassi and just got sense, with the  maxim "boil it, peel it or forget it" as my mantra. The joys of tropical living were myriad and I've just touched the surface. Another time I'll tell you about the skin problems, the filaria risk and the general day-to-day hazards of daily life in such a challenging climate.

Curry bash at Martin's Oz send-off - a big hit with the lads!
Back to the curry. I fixed on this beef curry a few years ago and it is a big hit with everyone, family and visitors alike. I make it a day before serving as like any decent stew it benefits from standing for a day or so. Think back to your student flat days when the stew made on Monday lasted through to Thursday (or made on Sunday if you had a good Irish mammy and could do some home shopping!) The rice has to be Basmati - I use Lidl or SuperValu Basmati Rice as the cheapest and best. Again no need to be a rice snob either.

Perfect Beef Curry

  • 2lbs/1kg stewing beef (with some fat marbling or trim to give it extra flavour)
  • 2 onions - slice thickly
  • Some garlic - 2-3 cloves
  • Patak's or Sharwood's sauces - I use a mix of the following with 3 tablespoons of three of the following - a combo of mild and medium. I mix the flavours quite randomly and find a combo is better than a single sauce. Totally unscientific and probably give the Patak family the vapours, but it works for me. 
  • Mild = Tikka or Tandoori or Korma; 
  • Medium = Rogan Josh, Jalfrezi or 
  • Hot = Madras, Vindaloo.
  • These last two are for the foolhardy who think they can handle hot curries. You've been warned!
  • 1 can (400g) of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can (400g) of Coconut Milk
  • Tablespoon of Mango Chutney (optional)
  • Tablespoon of vegetable oil
  • Optional Extra: Dried spices - a teaspoon of each of the following can be fried in hot oil before adding the sauces and meat.
  • Garam Masala
  • Cumin (seeds or powder)
  • Coriander (seeds or powder)
  • Mustard seeds
  1. Put oil in heavy base saucepan - heat to smoking hot.
  2. Add dried spices if using and stir for a minute but don't burn them.
  3. Add the sauces as in 4 above.
  4. Add the meat and onions and garlic and mix well.
  5. Brown the mixture but again don't burn - turn down heat as it will stick if you're not careful.
  6. Add tomatoes and coconut milk and mix well. 
  7. Cover and turn down to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 hours. 
  8. It's done when the meat is so tender to be falling apart when you cut it. 
    Last family curry - Martin's going-to-Oz party
You could use any quality sauce you can get locally - Patak's and Sharwoods are the commonest avaiable here. I'm sure there are specialty shops where you can get any variety of sauces. I use sauce in preference to dried powder as it gives more intense flavour and they are pretty oily and infuse every pore of the meat.The secret is to add the sauce to the meat before browning it - no point in searing the meat before the flavours can permeate the fibres. There's my science bit for you.

Serve with freshly boiled Basmati Rice.

Perfect Basmati Rice.
NB: I don't do any of the things you should do with rice like washing it or soaking it.
Put 200-300gm rice in heavy base saucepan.
Cover with boiling water to about double the volume of rice - ie. if rice quarter fills the saucepan then add water to half fill the saucepan.
Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil - I use olive oil - and stir through.
Cover and bring to the boil; when rolling, stir again and turn off heat.
Leave on stovetop for 10-15 mins and steam will cook it through dry and perfect. No need for rinsing, draining or anything. Just stir to separate and serve. I use this rice for making fried rice dishes like Nasi Goreng another family favourite for midweek fast food dinners.

Side dish - Garam Masala Fried Eggplant (or Aubergine) - Brinjal
Fried Eggplant
  1. Slice eggplant.
  2. Sprinkle with Garam Masala (a blend of sweet spices - a store-cupboard essential!)
  3. Heat oil in heavy base frying pan to about 0.5cm depth to smoking
  4. Add eggplant slices and fry in hot oil, turning after a few minutes.
  5. When golden brown on both sides remove from pan and drain on kitchen paper (it's pretty oily as the eggplant absorbs a lot of the oil - don't even think about calories!)
  6. Eat with the curry - it's delicious.

Any other side dish like Raita (yogurt with thin slices of onion or cucumber and sprinkled with garam masala or cumin) or sliced banana or just a green salad with chunky beefy tomatoes. Chappatis or Parathas are also delicious Indian Flatbreads to serve with curry and they are the mopper-uppers of the juices as curry is best eaten with no cutlery but with the fingers. Try it sometime - have a bowl of hot water with a slice of lemon on hand to cleanse your hand afterwards.

Enjoy! Ask me anything I didn't explain properly and I'll try to help.


Stephanie V said...

Definitely going to try this. We can get both these brands in our supermarket. And the eggplant looks so good!

Catherine said...

Good for you! It's really tasty if you like curry, and those brands are good. Patak's is better I think. I gave up on trying to make my own curry powder mix as the fresh spices you need would be hard to get, and these blends are oil-based so they keep the flavour. I still add a few cumin and mustard and coriander seeds for variety at times. The coconut milk makes it really tasty too.
Have fun! By the way my knitting circle are in awe of your skill with the cable socks!
Catherine xxx