My desire to experience and prepare global cuisines stems largely from the travel bug inside me. Both I 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.
1. Diced beef – 600 gms
2. Fresh coconut – 1 cup, grated
3. Ginger – 1 tbsp, grated
4. Onion – 2 large, sliced finely
5. Tamarind concentrate – 1-2 tbsp (depending on the strength of the concentrate)
6. Cumin powder – 1 tsp
7. Coriander powder – 2 tsp
8. Smoked paprika (if not, use kashmiri chilli powder) – 2 tsp
9. Tomatoes – 2 ripe, diced
10. Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
11. Vegetable oil – 3 tbsp
12. Garlic – 3 cloves, crushed
13. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
14. Red chilli powder – 1 tsp
15. Curry leaves – a big handful
1. Blend coconut, tomatoes, ginger, mustard seeds and tamarind into a paste.
2. Heat oil in a large heavy bottomed vessel and sauté the onions and garlic till light brown.
3. Add the spices and cook till the rawness goes and oil clears.
4. Add curry leaves, beef, coconut mixture and enough water to cook the beef.
5. 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.
Note – You can prepare this dish in a pressure cooker also. Carry out steps 1-4 in a PC, close the lid and cook for 4-5 whistles or more till the beef is tender. Add only 1 cup water if cooking in a PC.