One of the best things about Britain is not British at all; it’s Indian. The Brits love their Indian curries and the Madras curry, named after the South Indian town with the same name (now called Chennai) is right up there. The dish has some distinctive flavour notes (as those wine-tasting people would say), which you’ll pick up if you make it with all the correct ingredients as listed below. Madras curry is traditionally very hot, so if the thought of a chilli makes you sweat, rather move along to something else or stay here for a delicious meal but leave out the chilli powder. The spices listed below are all things that should be standard items in your kitchen, so if you need to buy some don’t worry, they won’t go to waste – you’ll use them for many other recipes. This recipe was voted their favourite by participants.
- 2 tots vegetable oil
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1/2 tot cumin seeds (or aniseed – but not star anise)
- 1/2 tot ground coriander
- 1/2 tot chilli powder (optional)
- 1/2 tot paprika
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tot garam masala
- 1 kg beef (boneless, cut into chunks)
- 1/2 tot salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
- 1 tot crushed fresh ginger (or grated)
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 1 can coconut milk
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 punnet fresh coriander leaves (to serve)
- Heat the oil in a potjie over a medium-sized fire. Add the onion and fry for a few minutes until it’s soft but not brown.
- Now the spices go in: cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, coriander, chilli powder (optional), paprika, turmeric and garam masala. Stir for a minute until it starts smelling irresistible. Right about now what I call the ‘word of nose’ phenomenon will kick in. Your neighbours will start calling to invite themselves over for dinner. Stay focused and look at the bottom of the potjie, which might seem very dry. Proceed immediately to the next step.
- Add the beef, salt, pepper, garlic and ginger. Fry for a few minutes until the meat starts to brown on all sides. The beef will release some juices. Use this to scrape away any sticky bits of spices at the bottom of the potjie. If you struggle, add a very small amount of water to help you.
- Pour in the tomatoes, coconut milk and lemon juice. Bring to a very slight simmer, then cover and cook over a few coals (no flames) for 90 minutes until the meat is tender. Don’t confuse tender meat with a government tender. Tender meat is a good thing.
- Serve on rice with a yoghurt and cucumber sauce called raita and fresh coriander leaves.
If your potjie is fairly small and the meat will not be able to brown properly all at the same time, do that in batches first, before you brown the onions. Then set the browned meat aside and simply add it back to the potjie in step 3.
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