Thursday, October 28, 2010

Goan Beef Curry + Punjabi Cabbage

I am terrible with meals after returning from vacation. Normally I make a menu for the week and create my shopping list from that, so that Seth and I can get all of our shopping taken care of in one fell swoop; otherwise, it's countless trips to the local (overpriced) store as I try to come up with things daily, only to discover that I am missing about half of the ingredients. While living the single life I would look at a can of chickpeas, canned tomatoes and a bag of rice and think, "Dinner! For the week!", marital bliss had taught me that not everyone enjoys getting by on such monkish offerings. So for a week or thereabouts after returning from a trip I find myself scrambling to put filling, protein-laden (read: meat) meals on the table. That is my first excuse.

Luckily one meal this week only used half a kilo of beef, so I had almost a whole kilo on hand, which it turns out was the only special ingredient I needed for beef curry - well, that and coconut milk. Luckily, I keep that in stock. I didn't even need cilantro! However, unexpectedly cooking a blog-worthy dish meant I wasn't feeling motivated with the camera. I have mentioned this before, but Indian can be tricky to photograph attractively; this difficulty is doubled when all you want to do is eat. Maybe you try and take a couple of pictures of your husband spooning a bite into his, but you can't get the lighting right and want him to keep posing with the food right in front of his mouth, until he gets irritated because he, too, wants to eat. That is my second excuse.

Only two excuses - not so bad! The cabbage was my green addition to dinner and also easily made with ingredients on hand. In the future I will include pre-ground ingredients, but I pounded everything in my mortar and am not sure what the equivalents would be. Also, you may notice that several of the spices are similar to those found in pork vindaloo - these spices are the base for most "curry" flavors.

Goan Beef Curry
The Food of India

8 cardamom pods
1tsp fennel seds
8 cloves
4-inch stick cinnamon
1/2tsp fenugreek seeds
1/2tsp ground black pepper
3tsp coriander seeds
3tsp cumin seeds
1/2cup oil (this makes an oily, oily dish - feel free to reduce to 1/4cup)
2 onions, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
4-inch piece of ginger, grated
1kg stewing steak, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/2tsp ground turmeric
2tsp chili powder (mine is extremely hot, so use your discretion)
1 1/4cups coconut milk
1. Remove seeds from cardamom pods and grind them with the fennel seeds, cloves, cinnamon stick, fenugreek seeds, black pepper, coriander and cumin seeds, until they form a fine powder.

2. Heat oil in a heavy-based pan or casserole over medium heat and fry the onion, garlic and ginger until onion is softened. Add the meat and fry until brown all over. Add all the spices and fry for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and bring slowly to the boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for about 1 hour, until meat is tender.

3. If liquid evaporates during cooking, add about 3/4 cup boiling cup of water and stir to make a thick sauce. If the sauce is too liquid at the end of the cooking time, simmer with lid off until it evaporates. Season with salt, to taste.

Punjabi Cabbage

1/2 onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
2 green chilies, seeded and chopped
4tbsp oil
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp ground turmeric
1/2kilo green cabbage, finely shredded
1tsp salt
1/2tsp ground black pepper
2tsp ground cumin
1tsp ground coriander
1/4tsp chili powder
1tbsp unsalted butter

1. Finely chop onion, garlic, ginger and chili together with a knife.

2. Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan over low heat and fry the onion mixture until softened but not browned. Add cumin seeds and turmeric to pan and stir for 1 minutes. Mix in cabbage, stirring thoroughly until all leaves are coated in the yellow paste. Add the salt, pepper, ground cumin, coriander and chili powder. Stir to coat the cabbage, then cook for 10 minutes with the pan partially covered, stirring occasionally until the cabbage in soft.

3. If cabbage becomes too dry and starts sticking to the pan, add 1-2 tablespoons water. Stir in the butter and season with additional salt, to taste.

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