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Sri Lankan beef curry

Sri Lankan beef curry
Recipe type: Curries
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 4
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
For Marion Grasby, there’s no better time than winter to reap the riches of cheaper beef cuts.
  • 1 large onion, roughly chopped
  • 2cm piece ginger, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 long red chilli, roughly chopped
  • 1 red bird's-eye chilli, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbs ghee (see note)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 cardamom pods, cracked
  • 2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 10 curry leaves (see note)
  • 1 tbs white vinegar
  • 1kg beef oyster blade, cut into 2.5cm pieces
  • 3 large vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • Coriander sprigs, steamed basmati rice and roti, to serve
  • Ceylon curry powder
  • 1 tbs coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 cinnamon quill, crumbled
  1. To make curry powder, heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Add spices and stir for 1 minute or until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and grind to a fine powder.
  2. Process onion, ginger, garlic and chillies in a food processor until finely chopped.
  3. Heat ghee in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for 12 minutes or until golden. Add curry powder, turmeric, cardamom, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes, then stir in vinegar. Add beef and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until well coated in spice paste. Add tomatoes, 250ml (1 cup) water and 1 tsp salt. Increase heat to high and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover tightly with a lid, then cook for 2 hours or until beef is very tender.
  4. Remove lid, increase heat to medium, then simmer for a further 20 minutes or until sauce is thickened.
  5. Divide curry among bowls and scatter with coriander. Serve with steamed rice and roti.
Ghee is clarified butter used extensively in Sri Lankan and Indian cooking. It can be heated to higher temperatures than regular butter without burning. Available from supermarkets.

Curry leaves are available fresh from selected greengrocers and dried from supermarkets.

For an even milder curry, seed the bird’s-eye chilli.

If you’re pressed for time or don’t want to buy a range of spices, use store-bought Ceylon curry powder.
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