This post has been a loooong time coming. To start with, I made this curry what feels like eons ago, in August. And then there is the fact that I spent the last week flat on by back, having been whacked by the virus from hell. So sorry about the extended silence!
Some of you might be wondering how Alex’s school has been going, since she had not done full day school previously. Well, on the one hand it has been wonderful, just because Alex is the sort of kid who loves school and loves any teacher that takes half an effort with her (and her teacher is fabulous, I should add, I really like her). So that is all good. But (did you hear the “but” coming?) she is tired and grouchy when she gets home, just ridiculously moody. Weirdly, as Alex has gotten more moody and less helpful around the house (who used to be my number 1 helper!), Sammy (who used to resist) has become a better helper. Maybe Sammy was just waiting for her moment to shine, I don’t know. I do know that some of Alex’s friends’ mothers have reported the same problem–that their children are moody and tired after school.
Ah, growing pains. Gotta love ’em.
My curry was not the deep red it probably usually would be, as I used pink and yellow heirloom tomatoes.
Anyway, this curry. I made it for a dinner guest on a whim–it called for sirloin, but all I had was round roast, so I fiddled with the recipe to make sure the meat was not tough. I also added the zucchini to make it a better one pot meal; you could also add cauliflower. The recipe is from one of my favorite cookbooks, Chilis to Chutneys: American Home Cooking With The Flavors Of India, by Neelam Batra, which my sister bought for me way back in 1998 (!). It has no pictures, but it has a wide variety of recipes, some, like this one, fairly traditional, and some very American (like Indian flavored pizzas). I’ve never made anything out of it we did not love. This dish was no exception–if you like Indian food or are at all curious about it, I highly recommend this book!
- Spice blend:
- 2 T blanched almond slivers
- 2 T shredded or flaked unsweetened coconut
- 1 T coriander seeds
- 2 t cumin seeds
- 1 t white poppy seeds
- 1 t black peppercorns
- ¼ t whole cloves
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 1-3 dried hot peppers, to taste, optional
- For the curry:
- 2 lbs stewing beef (chuck would be ideal, I used round), cut into 1-2 inch chunks
- 2-4 T vegetable oil, divided
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 large onions, diced
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 T minced ginger
- 2 cups diced tomatoes--local, freshly picked (or frozen) ones are preferred
- 1 cup loosely packed chopped cilantro (including soft stems)
- ½-1 t paprika (use the larger amount if you opted not to include hot dried chile peppers in the spice blend)
- ½ t turmeric
- salt to taste
- 3 small zucchini, slices into rounds
- 1½ cups Greek yogurt, whisked smooth
- ½ cup orange juice
- garam masala to taste
- cilantro leaves for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 300 F.
- Toast the ingredients for the spice blend in a nonstick skillet. Toast over moderately high heat, shaking and stirring occasionally, until they are darkened and fragrant. Remove to let cool out of the pan.
- While the spices are cooking, heat a large skillet with a lid over medium high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of oil; when it is shimmering, add the beef to brown it. When it is browned on all sides, add the water and scrape the browned bits from the pan. Cover the pan and place it in the oven to allow the beef to slowly braise while you prepare the rest of the curry.
- Place the cooled spices into a coffee grinder and grind them until they are fine.
- Heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and fry, stirring, until they are darkly caramelized--watch for scorching and add either more oil or water if that is a problem. Once they are quite caramelized, about 10-15 minutes, add the ginger and garlic. Cook for 1 minute. Then add the tomatoes and cilantro with another pinch of salt and cook for another 10 minutes, until the juice from the tomatoes has evaporated.
- Add the ground spice mix with the paprika and turmeric, as well as salt to taste. At this point, remove the beef from the oven and add it to the Dutch oven, with all of the accumulated juices. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to the lowest simmer. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes. Then add the yogurt in a thin stream to prevent curdling and mix in the orange juice. Bring back to a simmer and cover the pan. Cook until the beef is tender and the sauce is thickened, about 30 minutes (it could take longer if your beef chunks are particularly large or tough). 10 minutes before serving, add the zucchini.
- Before serving, sprinkle with some garam masala and cilantro leaves. I served over basmati rice; flatbreads would work also.
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