My desire to experience and try out international cuisines stem largely from the curious travel bug inside me. Both me and my husband are avid travelers though we really haven’t seen/travelled as much as we like. But we are always planning about the next trip; both of us love visiting places and experiencing the culture, traditions, history and culinary delights of the region.
Right now, having just migrated to a new country, we have put our travel dreams on hold for a while. And this is why I am constantly looking for international cookbooks in the library – books which will not only give me a glimpse into the food but also the history and culture of a particular region or country.
During my last trip to the library, I came across a cookbook focusing on Botswana and sub-Saharan African food culture. The book ‘Mma Ramotswe’s Cookbook’ by Stuart Brown weaves the different foods from the region as a narrative through the eyes of Mma Ramotswe, a colourful lady detective who believes in being ‘traditionally built’. Now I scoured through the book wanting to re-create a dish from the region but to my surprise, this is the dish that caught my attention the most – A Madras beef dish in an African cookbook. It’s a small world indeed!!
There is no way I was not going to make this dish at home…and so here it is. This beef dish is spicy, tangy and sweet – the typical Madrasi flavours! And this is the first beef dish I have done in my life which uses tamarind.
Dr. Moffat’s Beef Madras
- Diced beef – 500 gms
- Fresh coconut – 1 cup grated
- Ginger – 1 tbsp grated
- Onion – 2 large sliced finely
- Tamarind concentrate – 1 tbsp
- Cumin powder – 1 tsp
- Coriander powder – 2 tsp
- Smoked paprika if not, use kashmiri chilli powder – 2 tsp
- Tomatoes – 2 ripe diced
- Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
- Vegetable oil – 2 tbsp
- Garlic – 3 cloves crushed
- Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
- Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
- Curry leaves – a big handful
- Salt to season
- Blend coconut, tomatoes, ginger, mustard seeds and tamarind into a paste.
- Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed vessel and sauté the onions and garlic till light brown.
- Add the spices and cook till the rawness goes and oil clears.
- Add curry leaves, beef, coconut mixture and enough water to cook the beef.
- Close the lid and cook for 1 to 1 ½ hours till the beef becomes tender and juicy. Stir occasionally and check for water content. The final dish must have a thick gravy consistency.