Monday, March 31, 2014

Malay Beef Curry

Spices intimidate the bejesus out of me. Pretty normal if one has to deal with something unfamiliar  .  Like, driving a car for the first time, pricking a stranger with a sharp, pointy object as student nurse or  cooking a foreign  ingredient. I wish,  I could say that  I grew up watching my own mother cook or have anybody in my family taught me the ways of the kitchen. But, it was not the case . Numerous cookbooks and food blogs helped me feed my husband through the years. Looking at his and my now- widening girth, I guess, I'm not doing a bad job. But truth remains, I still don't know what herb goes well with what meat. Equally clueless at  what and how much spices I should use in a particular dish. Unlike most Asian cuisines, Filipino kitchen is not as spice laden as its neighbor. We  rarely use cloves, cardamom ,nutmeg and the likes in our cooking, thus making me, an ultimate but average asin (salt) at paminta(pepper) Jane. 

Now, my good Friend Nancy is just the opposite. Being Malaysian, she is expose to the amalgam of her Malay roots, as well as Chinese and Indian influences that are well represented in her country. The contents of her German kitchen is as diverse as her heritage. Glasses are filled with all things aromatic and pungent, spices and herbs she had long mustered and used. She makes impressive curries. Rich, earthy,  very flavourful, enough heat to tickle the palate and  simply über-delicious . It's so good, people ask her a potful of that  for birthdays as a present! 

Her famous Kari Lembu ( Malay Beef Curry) is phenomenal. Secret? Confluencing Malaysian cooking and Indian spices. I have been begging for recipe since I've tried it . Finally,  last month, I was greatly rewarded. I went home with a copy of that recipe, a pack of her Indian curry powder , a bottle of filled with different spices and the widest grin my mouth would allow. My husband was ecstatic ! He loves Indian food and Nancy's curry! 

It was a sunny and warm Saturday but instead of going out and soaking up Vit. D, I was busy in the Kitchen like a woman possessed. FF was breathing on my neck, cutting onions, peeling potatoes, washing dishes and throwing speculative glances on the wok . As the wondrous smell starts to waft  through the Kitchen, he whiffed and sigh looking relieved and hopeful. Hmmm, smells like we're at Namaskaar . Our favorite Indian Restaurant. I grew an inch taller. We ate it for lunch on Sunday, for like all stews, this curry tasted much much better on the next day.We had some home-made , still pipping hot Naan bread and mango lassi with it. This was the very first Indian inspired meal I cooked at home. FF said, it was his best meal at home so far. I grew another mm taller and few inches rounder. Thank you,Nancy!

 Kari Lembu ala Nancy
1 kg beef for stewing, cubed. ( could be replaced with chicken or lamb)
1 stalk lemon grass, crushed and sliced
Spices ( 1 cinnamon stalk, 3 Star anise, 4-5 Cardamon pods, 5-6 cloves)
1 big onion, peeled and finely diced.
5-6 tbsp. Mandras Indian Curry Powder ( mild )
5 tbsp. oil for sautéing 
4 tomatoes, sliced into wedges
4 medium sized potatoes, peeled and sliced
300 ml water
1 small can coconut milk
Salt and pepper
few sprigs of curry leaves
Optional* dried chili's

Cooking Procedure:

1.Heat oil in the pan/wok. Sauté onion and lemongrass until aromatic. Stir in curry powder and the spices. Add chili powder/flakes if using. Be careful not to burn the curry.

2. Add the meat ( beef, chicken or lamb). Stir well until each piece of meat is slathered in aromatic curry. Turn heat to high, keep stirring until meat is thoroughly brown . Add in tomato wedges. Pour water into the meat and spices mixture. Bring to a boil the lower the heat , cover and let the dish simmer gently until meat is fork tender. I cooked my beef for about 2 1/2 hours. Chicken cooks faster. I haven't cooked lamb at home so I can not tell. Stir once in a while to prevent meat from sticking at the bottom of the pan. Add half a cup of water if dish turns too dry.

3. Once meat is just tender, add in sliced potatoes and coconut milk. Cook dish for another 15 minutes . Stir in Curry leaves .Check potatoes for doneness. Season dish with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Malay Beef Curry

Thick, rich, aromatic and so, so yummy!This recipe is a keeper!

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