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Beef Madras

Beef Madras
Beef Madras

Beef Madras is not a particularly common dish in India and I can't really see that this is a particularly authentic recipe. However it was the first Indian dish that I made on a regular basis and got pretty good at.

This was our Saturday night treat for a number of years - I cooked other Indian food as well, but we always came back to this one. It's got that stewy comfort food feel about it, so although this may not be the most authentic recipe, I make no apologies for it 'cos it's one of my favourites.

Despite its possible lack of Indian pedigree, the dish is cooked in a South Indian style, Madras - now called Chennei - is the capital of Tamil Nadu on the South East coast of India, to the East of Kerala and South of Andhra Pradesh, its food is very spicy and I tend to make beef Madras quite hot.

Basic Ingredients

1lb (450gm) stewing beef
2 medium onions
3 cloves garlic
inch (1cm) root ginger
3 plum tomatoes (or 200g tinned tomatoes)
2 medium potatoes
red bell pepper
Juice of a lemon
Oil for frying

2 teaspoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
6 black peppercorns
Seeds from 6 cardamom pods
teaspoon turmeric

Notes on Ingredients

Beef. You can use any cut you like really, the dish is going to stew for some time so it doesn't have to be a really tender cut. I like chuck and skirt best for taste.

Red Pepper. This is optional and you can use any other colour - it just adds colour and another flavour.

Chillis. I use 2 scotch bonnets in this and that is quite hot. Serious chilli heads can use more but there is no reason not to use less if you want it milder. You can also remove the seeds to make it milder or use milder chillis

Lemon juice. You can also use lime or tamarind.

Oil. Mustard oil is best for this but you can use ghee or vegetable oil.

Basic Method

Cut meat into 1 inch (2.5cm) cubes.
Pour lemon juice onto meat and set aside.
Peel and finely slice the onions.
Peel and crush the garlic.
Peel the ginger and cut into tiny dice.
Peel potatoes and dice.
Chop bell pepper into 1 inch strips.
Peel tomatoes if using fresh ones and chop up
Finely chop the chillis.
Roast the coriander, cumin, fenugreek and peppercorns in a dry frying pan, then grind along with the cardamom seeds.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan.
Fry the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger until the onions are soft.
Add the ground spices and the red pepper, stir and fry some more.
Add the meat and seal this well.
When the meat is browned on all sides add the tomatoes and potatoes.
Turn the heat to very low and simmer.
After 10 minutes stir in the turmeric cover the pan and simmer for a further 30 mins or until the meat is nice and tender.

Notes on Method

Not much to say about this one - this beef Madras really is quite an easy one to do. Only thing to watch for is that it might get a little dry if the lid is not too tight - just stir in a little water if you need to.

Eat beef Madras with plain or aromatic rice. A good side dish for this is aloo bhaji. The quantities here served with rice and a side dish will feed 4 adults.

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