Monday, March 01, 2010

Spicy Fried Beef

The dish that I'm posting today is not a saucy type curry; it's a Kerala style dry fried curry. The recipe is my attempt at recreating the flavors I remember from my mom's recipe. The extra step of frying, while seemingly over-indulgent, turns a simpler saucy curry into tender, browned, caramelized mouthwatering goodness.

My mom, until she recently retired, was a registered nurse who worked the night shift for 30 something years. On some evenings when she was sleeping before her shift our dad would take her left over curry and fry it up like this for dinner. K, my husband calls this "boonjay" beef, not sure how it's spelled but that's how it sounds when he says it. "Boonjay" is the Guyanese word he uses for dry fried curry.

Typically this Kerala style beef is fried with onions, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, spices and slices of fresh coconut. I left out the coconut when I made it today simply because I didn't have any on hand. But the addition of coconut is authentic and adds a nice sweet and nutty flavor to the dish. So if you have coconut be sure to add it.

You'll need a pressure cooker for this recipe.

1 lb. cubed boneless organic beef chuck or sirloin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 inch piece of cinnamon
2 cardamom pods bruised
1/4 cup water
Coconut oil or canola oil
1 generous pinch of mustard seeds
1 small onion sliced thin
1 teaspoon ginger minced fine
3 large garlic cloves minced fine
2 green chilies chopped
1/2 tomato sliced thin
10 curry leaves
2 inch piece of coconut sliced thin

Season cubed beef with the coriander, chili powder, garam masala, ground fennel, turmeric, black pepper, salt, cinnamon, and cardamom. Mix together with water and pressure cook according to your pressure cooker directions until the beef is tender. Heat enough oil to cover the bottom of a frying pan large enough to hold this amount of beef. When the oil is hot add the mustard seeds. When mustard seeds begin to crackle and pop, add the onions, ginger, garlic, green chili, curry leaves and coconut and continue to fry until the onions become translucent. Add the beef and fry together with other ingredients. As the water begins to cook away, add the thinly sliced tomato. Continue to fry these ingredients until all the water has cooked away and beef begins to form a light crust. Taste for salt. Fry the beef as dry as you like but be careful not to burn. Serve with rice or Indian bread.


  1. I'd want to eat this preferably with rice.

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  3. Cynthia, That's how I like to have it :) So is it "boonjay"? Have you heard this word before? I'm so curious about the root of the word.