Here’s a thing I haven’t made in years: a rather quaintly-named Ceylon beef curry recipe. I just happened to be thumbing through an old cookery book when I stumbled across it, which wasn’t hard. Did you ever notice that all your favourite recipes are in the pages caked with dried food and marked with grubby fingerprints?
A long, long time ago I discovered by accident that coconut goes very well with large amounts of garlic, so I modified the original recipe a bit. I also had no coconut milk so I adjusted by using creamed coconut instead. Apart from that it’s pretty much the same as the original, and I can tell you this. It is absolutely delicious, so get cookin’!
What do you need?
Get some beef, cut into cubes.
20 dried chillis
2 teaspoons of coriander seeds.
10 cardamoms. I used black, but next time I’ll try the green ones and see what difference it makes.
A one-inch stick of cinnamon or thereabouts. Roughly. Don’t worry too much about the proportions.
Pound up the coriander, the cinnamon, the chillis and the cardamoms. This mortar-and-pestle business is all very well, and it looks better in the pictures, but I think I should get myself a small coffee grinder instead. Sieve the spices through something coarse like a colander to get rid of the cardamom husks or else you’ll be spitting them out the whole way through your meal, and it isn’t a great look really.
Roast the ground spices in a dry hot pan until they begin to give off a pungent aroma but don’t make the mistake of inhaling deeply to check progress. This stage is very important for any recipe involving aromatic spices, so don’t skip it.
Add the roasted spices to vinegar. I used wine vinegar but it’s up to you. Malt vinegar might be a bit strong.
Marinate the beef in the spices for about an hour.
Now you’ll need some more ingredients.
Onions, garlic and ginger.
For this, I used about five or six garlic cloves but you could use more or less depending on your taste. Chop up the garlic, onions and ginger and fry them until they’re soft. I use ghee which I make myself, but you can always use vegetable oil if you prefer. When the mix is soft and browned, take it out of the pan and set it aside for a while.
Fry the marinated beef in small batches. The reason for this is because if you add too much at one time, the pan will cool down and you don’t want that. When you have all the beef nicely fried return the cooked vegetables to the pan.
If you have coconut milk put that in now, but don’t worry too much if you have none. I just added hot water and grated creamed coconut. Personally, I think it’s a better option anyway because tinned coconut milk can give food a slimy texture at times. Stick with the creamed coconut.
Then throw in some curry leaves if you have them, and let the whole lot stew away until the sauce thickens and the meat is nice and tender.
When you’re happy with all that, cook up some nice brown rice or else make a few chapatis.
Invite some friends around. Enjoy your meal.