First Class Beef Curry

Hill Station Curry 

Featured in Delicious Magazine

My Grandfather, George was always immaculately turned out, perhaps it was an inheritance of his time as a Sergeant Major in the British Indian Army during WWII and latterly in a Pakistani regiment after the partition of both countries in 1947. He’d be posted around the Indian subcontinent and verdant hill stations such as Peshawar on the North West Frontier with their Alpine appearance and temperate climate and British legacy were a firm favourite. It was here in the long afternoons that he crafted one of his foodie passions, creating the most divine Indian beef curry characterised by its depth of warming spices, including black cardamom and tenderness which fell apart at a single glance.

It was this recipe which he wore as a medal of honour and rightly so, it was his signature dish and as a child my Sunday mornings would be spent in anticipation of whether he’d prepared his beef curry for Sunday lunch. The smell of freshly made chapattis and the feint scent of cinnamon was a giveaway. After giving thanks we’d tear our flatbread apart and pillage this hill station beef curry, he’d wobble his head in satisfaction his eyes widened with delight and he’d announce his verdict ... “First Class”, it always was!

First class beef curry

How To Make First Class Beef Curry 

Serves 4 

  • 1kg diced stewing beef
  • 2 medium onions, sliced
  • 2tbs ginger and garlic paste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 green finger chillies, sliced with seeds
  • 6 fat black cardamom pods
  • 1tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1tbs curry powder
  • 1tbs coriander powder
  • 1tbs garam masala
  • 4 tbs sunflower oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Water
  • Palm full of coriander leaves

Using a large pot glug in the oil, warm over a medium heat and tip in the onions browning thoroughly until the edges start to caramelise. Spoon the ginger and garlic paste, followed in hot pursuit by the cinnamon stick, chillies, cardamom, peppercorns and cloves adding 100ml of water and fry for a couple of minutes allowing the spices to coalesce and scent the pot. Now introduce the beef and brown thoroughly, coating the pieces with the spice base. Cover and cook for 30 minutes until the mix is looking meatylicious, jammy and slightly dry around the edges it should take on the colour of a scrummy deep dark chocolate. Add the tinned tomatoes, curry powder, ground coriander and garam masala plus another 200ml of water and season with salt, stir methodically, cover and cook for another 30 minutes on a low heat.

The secret to this dish is slow cooking for that tear apart tender texture. Uncover pour in another 200ml water and cook for a further 30 minutes, sensing déjà vu you’ll need to repeat this last step again adding another 200ml water and an additional 30 minutes on the hob. By now the beef will yield under a little chapatti pressure and will crumble on the palate. Sprinkle with coriander leaves and treat yourself to this authentic Indian beef curry it’s the only way for your taste-buds to travel.

Great with Indian flatbread, fluffy basmati rice and a sour chutney of choice.

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