Malayali beef with coconut slivers

Malayali beef with coconut slivers

By
From
I Love India
Serves
6-8
Photographer
Martin Poole

This reminds me why I love the dishes of Kerala so much. There are so many different cooking techniques and styles, as all the three main religions of India are reflected in Keralan food, and an abundance of delicious fish, chicken, lamb, beef, duck, lentils and vegetable dishes. There are loads of delicious beef dishes in Kerala, but this is my favourite. It is rich and meaty, but the lovely distinct flavours of Kerala definitely shine out, in particular the curry leaves, coconut, fennel seeds and black pepper. This is a typical Christian dish and one they might cook on special occasions although, apart from grinding your own spice blend, it is quite straightforward. Fortunately, as coconut and coconut oil are so in fashion these days, it has become really easy to find them both, so no more fiddling with large unyielding coconuts. Yay! This is so delicious, you just can’t stop eating it, nugget after nugget.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient

For the spice blend

Quantity Ingredient
1 tablespoon fennel seeds
11/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
11/2 tablespoon coriander seeds
5 cloves
seeds from 3 green cardamom pods
2.5cm cinnamon stick

For the beef

Quantity Ingredient
4 tablespoons coconut oil
800g braising beef pieces
2 onions, thinly sliced
5 garlic cloves, finely grated
40g finely grated root ginger, (peeled weight)
salt
2 capfuls of white wine vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1-3 green chillies, stalks removed, pierced with a knife
70g fresh coconut slivers
small handful fresh or dried curry leaves

For the tempering

Quantity Ingredient
5 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
small handful fresh or dried curry leaves
2 dried chillies
1 medium-small onion, thinly sliced
10g (1 rounded tablespoon) finely julienned root ginger, (cut from a long piece)

Method

  1. Grind together all the spices for the spice blend until fine.
  2. Heat a large saucepan or casserole with the oil and add the beef, onions, garlic, ginger, salt, vinegar, turmeric, green chillies, coconut, curry leaves and the spice blend. Sauté for 6–8 minutes, then add a good splash of water, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently until the beef is tender, around 70–80 minutes (or this can be less or more depending on the heat level, so do check). Keep giving the pot a stir and make sure there is enough water in the pan, but try not to add too much.
  3. When the meat is soft, make the temper. Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or saucepan. Add the mustard seeds and, as they are sizzling, add the curry leaves and red chillies. Follow 10 seconds later with the onions and some salt. Sauté for 7–8 minutes or until the onion has lovely golden edges and smells caramelized. Add the julienned ginger, stir for 20 seconds, then tip in the beef and all its juices. This is the time that you “fry” the meat. Cook it over a medium heat until it has darkened a bit and the moisture just coats the beef, 10–15 minutes.
  4. Taste, adjust the seasoning and serve.
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