Matrimonial Curry

Vic's Beef Curry Bughela Style

Asian weddings are loud, bold, fat, dazzling and long. Saris shine like bright boiled sweets, adorned with magnificent gold stitching. Feet and hands are finely dyed with ancient henna designs and gold jewellery drips with an intensity unlike any other. The result is a glittering symphony of colour, sound and smell. Yes, these weddings grab your senses in every way and will leave you grinning with bewilderment. The dancing is euphoric and relentless, the music will leave your ear drums begging for mercy but the food...well it’s not called a wedding feast for nothing.

My cousin Terry’s wedding was no exception to the rule. He got hitched in Karachi and they celebrated, BIG style. No expense was spared and naturally the food was a central pillar to the party. It had been years since Dad had visited Pakistan and he’d missed the indigenous taste of curry. This recipe is one of the most delectable he’s passed on. It’s one which was used to rejoice in my cousin’s nuptials and as a result I cook it when I want to create something special. This beef curry recipe is perfect for a dinner party with great mates, or a family gathering…prepare it a day in advance if you can Indian meat curries always taste better a day later, cook more than you need and freeze the leftovers for a tasty DVD meal.

Beef bughela lo res

This style of cooking meat comes from the southeast Sindh province in Pakistan and is cooked bughela style (boo-gay-la). This process, uses boiling water ensuring that the meat takes on a tender texture. The province takes its name from the original Sindhus River now known as the Indus and it may have been this connection with water which inspired this method. This beef curry recipe is tender and crumbly and if you listen carefully you’ll hear an Asian wedding party in full swing.

Serves 4 and then some

  • 2lbs chopped stewing beef
  • 2 medium onions, finely sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 green chillies, chopped
  • 2 inches fresh root ginger, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 tsp ground garam masala (you can buy ready mixed packets as a quick cheat)
  • 2 tbs medium curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbs (level) whole garam masala = !st tbs (2/3 tbs cumin seeds, 1/3 tbs cloves) 2nd tbs = (2/3 tbs teaspoon whole coriander, 1/3 tbs whole pepper)
  • 2 tbs peanut or olive oil
  • 500g fork whipped natural ‘live’ yoghurt

Ground Garam Masala

Ground garam (hindi for hot) masala (paste) is a staple combination used in the vast majority of sub-continent curries. It’s pungent, necessary and it’s easy to make.

  • ¼ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander seeds
  • ½ tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 green cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • ¼ tsp grated ground mace

Heat a frying pan on a medium heat and pop in all the ingredients except the ground mace. Dry roast the spices for 2 minutes until they jig and hop in the pan, taking care not to burn them, they will volunteer an aroma which is hard to forget. Leave to cool, peel the cardamom pods and release the seeds into the other spices, add the mace and tip into a pestle and mortar (or blender) and punish them until they yield into fluffy powder. Surplus can held in an airtight container but it will degrade and lose its bouquet over time.

Whole Garam Masala

The reason we use whole garam masala as well as the ground version, is that the unbroken spices retain an aromatic and subtler finish contributing elegance rather than adding heat.

This method of cooking relies on the balance of water and spice. It’s an unusual way of measuring water quantities but as pot sizes vary it’s best to follow this traditional technique. Put the beef in a large pot and mark out 2 inches above the height of the beef. Remove the beef and fill the pot with salted water up to the measured point. Bring the water to a boil and add the beef (really important - do not brown it or you’ll screw it up). Continue boiling on a medium heat until all the yucky scum reaches the surface and with a slotted spoon scoop of the foam until the water is clear and boil for a further 30 minutes.

Slide in the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger in to the pot cook for 30 minutes on a low heat, the water will reduce a little. Gently stir. Add the ground garam masala, curry powder and ground coriander and cook for a further 30 minutes. It takes a while but stick with it.

Drop in the whole garam masala and cook for 20 minutes and then incrementally add the whipped yoghurt tablespoon by tablespoon stirring gently each time making sure that it’s assimilated and doesn’t curdle and get gritty. Keep stirring and then add a glug of oil to the beef until it rises to the top and the curry looks silky. This curry beef should be tender and almost flaky, lastly add the chopped coriander and stir in…it’ll finish off the curry beautifully.

Eat with rice or piping hot chapattis. 

A recipe from the Urban Rajah's Curry Memoirs cookbook. Due for release in Spring 2013, from Headline Publishing.


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I can almost smell this curry cooking. Am going to try this one definately.

By Tracy Beckham on June 30, 2011

Thinking about having a crack at this for the parents visit this weekend… bit more interesting than the usual Sunday roast!

By Jimbo on July 01, 2011

Well done automatic I am so proud of you for re-telling one of my recipes. Maybe you should apply for a job of as a speech writer for President Obama!

By Vic Peters on July 01, 2011

Looks good. Do you deliver?

By Kevin Taplin on July 02, 2011

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I’ve got the rickshaw in gear and on my way.

By Urban Rajah on July 02, 2011

This is definitely getting a run out…

By Luke Mersey on July 21, 2011

The aroma is irresistible and the taste is great - a favourite in our family now!

By Hilary Laine on July 26, 2011

Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts to us. I found your blog on Google and read a few of your other posts. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

By Timy on August 15, 2011

Nice and interesting blog you have. Easy to be read and systematic, so it will not confuse the reader. Keep a good blog.

By Jhon on August 15, 2011

I’ve been reading through your blog and have to say I’m very impressed. Really like your writing style and the pictures are a feast for the eyes!
I’m going to have to try this recipe. Keep up the great work.  I’ll be back.

Dan Toombs
The Curry Guy

By The Curry Guy on September 21, 2011

In all ,I like your topics which are about food! Very nice! Your site is one of the best in my life now!

By Ronaldo on September 22, 2011

What a treat! amazing flavours! and really not that difficult to make!
I made it a day in advance and it was so tasty - by then the meat was super tender too!
Yum yum….

By Amy Shepheard on February 12, 2012

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You’ve discovered the secret of making a fab meat curry, resist the temptation in scoffing it straight away….delayed gratification is the way forward.

By Urban Rajah on February 12, 2012

I think that I would use that beef curry bughela style recipe at home. I know that my husband would love to have a taste of that delicious dish.

By Dottie Obeck on February 29, 2012


By IIM Matrimonial on April 20, 2012

Thanks very much for sharing this recipe. I would recommend that anybody who reads this page should have a go at it - you won’t be disappointed!

Thanks again!


By Joseph on April 28, 2012

Hi - This recipe looks great and I thought I’d try it tonight but I could not see the recipe for the whole garam masala - is it the same proportions as used for the ground? And does it really need 2 tablespoons?

A quick reply would be great!!

By karl on August 30, 2012

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Hi Karl..glad you’re trying this one out and hope it satisfies. The whole garam masala is a mix of the following ingredients combined i.e. cumin seeds, a teaspoon of whole coriander, cloves, whole pepper…all kept whole. These ingredients provide warmth to the recipe as opposed to heat! Definitely not the same as ground garam masala which is a ground mix of toasted spices and definitely more concentrated so just 1tsp of the ground stuff. Do let me know how you get on.

By Urban Rajah on August 30, 2012

Hi! I’m cooking this right now and have just realised I’m not sure what quantities I need for the whole garam masala, so I’m just gonna wing it and see!

By emma on September 19, 2012

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Emma, thanks for trying this recipe and hope it worked out ok, I’m going to clarify the amounts on the whole garam masala. Do let me know how you got on.

By Urban Rajah on September 19, 2012

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