The last few weeks have been both busy and quiet. Busy with family and quiet as we took a week long trip to the Dordogne region, some 3 hours from where we’re at the moment. So, although I’ve been in the kitchen and have tried out interesting recipes, I never really got around to documenting them here.
Yesterday, however, I made an Indian dinner on special request from my dear step father-in-law whose b’day it was and who really loves spicy exotic food. The menu included chicken smothered in a yoghurt sauce, a spicy beef stew and a side dish of pan fried aubergines along with a cucumber coriander raita to cool things off. Dessert was creme brulee indianised by the addition of cardamom and orange zest for extra measure.
I thought this was a good opportunity to take some pictures and put a couple of these recipes down for future reference.
This beef ‘stew’ can also be called a curry. It has a bucketload of spices and is definitely not for the faint hearted. Its aroma and taste reminded me of my mother’s meat curries I grew up on which was a pleasant feeling since I experimented with making my own spice mix for this one.
The spices can of course be easily adjusted to one’s liking and certain whole spices can be omitted if not readily available. It’s definitely worth a try on a lazy weekend – I say weekend because it’s a stew and requires a good few hours of simmering away before the meat gets meltingly tender and the sauce to be rich and thick.
Spicy Indian Beef Stew (serves 4-5)
For the spice mix, blend the following whole spices together either using a mortar and pestle, a spice grinder or a stick blender –
2 star anise
2tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1tsp red chilli flakes
1 black cardamom (can be left out if you don’t have it)
1 small stick cinnamon
For the sauce
4-5 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
2 bay leaves
2 large red onions, chopped
thumb size piece of ginger, finely minced
2-3 garlic cloves, finely minced
1tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder – this can be left out if you don’t want the sauce too hot
around 700g stewing beef
4-5 medium tomatoes – chopped and blended or use one 400g can of tinned tomatoes
salt to taste
In a heavy bottomed casserole dish, heat the oil along with the bay leaves. Add the onions and saute until they’re pale and soft. Add the spice mix and cook for a minute or two followed by the ginger and garlic, turmeric powder and chilli powder if using. Cook for a further two mintues and then add the meat to the pan and let the pieces brown a bit. Add the tomatoes to the pan. Season and add a small glass of water to the pan, there should be enough liquid to let the meat cook slowly without drying out.
Bring it to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is really tender and the sauce thick and glossy. Do keep checking on the sauce once in a while and add more water if there isn’t enough of it.
Once done, garnish with fresh coriander leaves and serve with cooked rice or naan bread.
A delicious treat!