Beef is one of the island's less popular meats, owing to the largely Buddhist majority in the country who refrain from consuming or preparing beef.  However, as Sri Lankan cuisine, much like its people, is diverse and multifaced, many recipes with differing cooking methods and ingredients prevail, from all parts of the island. 
This recipe is a simple Sri Lankan red curry, which can be adapted to cook any type of meat; simply adjust the cook time accordingly. It is dark and luscious, but also a slightly healthier version as it does not use much oil or coconut milk. Flavour is derived from the beef, spices, aromats and the long cook time.
The spices, as in most Sri Lankan curries, all serve a specific purpose - some add dimension of heat, others a heady aroma or much needed pungency. The puree of aromats like garlic, ginger, onion, tomato and curry leaves not only simplifies prep time, but tenderizes the meat while ensuring a thick, rich gravy, that is full of flavour. Adding coconut milk (although usually vital in traditional Sri Lankan meat curries) is optional here, as it mellows out the flavours while adding another level of richness.
This curry is best served with hot rice, crusty bread or stringhoppers; basically any carb that can mop up the pools of gravy! 

For the marinade:
 - 2 tsp chili powder
 - 1 tsp cumin powder
 - 1/2 tsp tumeric
 - 1 tsp roasted curry powder
 - 1 tsp salt
For the beef curry:
 - 400g beef, cut into bite sized cubes
- 1/2 medium onion
 - 2 green chillies
  - 2-3 cloves of garlic
 - 1/2 inch piece of ginger
 - 10 - 15 curry leaves
 - 3-4 small tomatoes
 - 2 stalks lemongrass, bruised
 - 1/4 cup coconut milk
 - 1 tsp lime juice
 - 1 tbsp coconut oil
 - 1 - 2 inch piece of cinnamon
 - 3 bruised cardamoms 
 - 3 cloves
 - 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
 - 2 tsp chilli powder
 - 1 tsp cumin powder
 - 1 tsp roasted curry powder 
 - 1 tsp roasted chilli powder
 - 1 tsp black pepper
 - 1 tsp sugar
 - Salt to taste

 1. Marinade beef for at least an hour in spices. 
 2. In a blender, puree onion, garlic, ginger, curry leaves, green chillies and tomato.
 3. Heat a deep heavy bottom pan or clay pot. Add coconut oil and sear beef in batches on medium high heat. The meat needs to brown and caramelize, not stew or boil. 
 4. Remove beef from pot, and lightly fry lemon grass, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and fenugreek in pan juices.
 5. Add purée, mix well and add remaining spices, sugar and salt. Cook for a minute or two.
 6. Add seared beef and resting juices. Mix well, taste and adjust seasoning. 
 7. Stir in a cup of water, cover and cook on low heat for at least one hour or until the beef is tender*.  
 8. Stir the curry once or twice while cooking. Test the meat and add more water if needed.
 9. Once the beef is tender, add coconut milk and cook for a further 5 minutes. 
 10. Stir in lime juice (or tamarind) remove from heat and serve hot, with crusty bread or rice.
*Cook the beef in a pressure cook instead of a pot on the stove to drastically reduce the cook time. However, the liquid content may need to be adjusted.

You may also like

Back to Top