Beef Curry

  • Serves

    serves 4-6

(Erachi Varathathu)
Kerala's Muslims make this hearty curry for Ramadan and other special occasions. Soujath Ahsraf of Thrikkakara fixed this dish for us; she serves it with rice-flour flat bread that is dipped into coconut milk, then wrapped around a chunk of curry.


  • 1 12 lb. boneless, well-marbled chuck steak, cut into 3⁄4" cubes
  • 4 tsp. ground coriander seeds
  • 12 tsp. ground cumin
  • 12 tsp. cayenne
  • 12 tsp. fennel seeds, ground with a mortar and pestle
  • 14 tsp. turmeric
  • 1 14 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp. Ghee
  • 1 (1") piece cinnamon stick
  • 3 cloves
  • 18 curry leaves
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 (3/4") piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 fresh hot green chiles (serrano or thai), split lengthwise just up to the stem
  • 12 tsp. fresh lime juice


Step 1

Put beef, coriander, cumin, cayenne, fennel, turmeric, salt, and 1 cup water in a medium pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until meat is cooked through, 15 minutes. Remove pot from heat, uncover, and set aside.

Step 2

Heat oil and ghee in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add cinnamon and cloves, and fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Carefully add curry leaves (the leaves will spatter when they hit the hot oil), and after they have spattered for a few seconds, add onions, and sauté until lightly browned, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add ginger, garlic, and chiles, and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are well browned, about 20 minutes longer.

Step 3

Set aside 1⁄4 cup of the cooking liquid from the meat, then add meat and remaining liquid from pot to the skillet, and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid reduces to a thick sauce that coats the meat and the meat is tender with some chew, 20–30 minutes. (Add a little of the reserved cooking liquid if sauce thickens before meat is cooked.) Remove skillet from heat, and add lime juice and a little more salt, if you like.

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