Beef and coconut curry.
As per Las's request. I threw this together a few weekends back and it went down rather well. My lad isn't a big fan of beef things, so it was a risk.
The basis for all my curries over the past few years is blended onions and a mix of whole raw and powdered spices.
For the base, you will need to peel, quarter and blend 3 medium or 2 large red onions. you blend them until you can't see any pieces of onion more than 1-2 MM in size. So it's not quite a smooth paste. If you go all the way to paste, it doesn't matter.
Fry this off for around 5 mins with 2 tbsp Ghee (clarified butter), or just a high heat oil, like peanut, mustard or rapeseed oil. Normal veg oil will do. It needs to be cooked, but not brown - going brown takes a while when it's blended, so hard to go wrong.
The next bit depends on what you have, and the quantities are rough. Experiment with what you have.
You could just use a curry powder. That's the simplest thing, that you might have. you would need around 2 tbsp or curry powder.
If you have it, make up your own spice mix. The quantities depened a fair bit on how old the spices are. After a year, you would need to use twice as much for the same impact.
In all honesty, I never measure spices, and just sprinkle and scatter according to what i have and how i feel. adding up all those teaspoons, it's around 10 tsps mass, which seems quite a lot. You should be left with 2-3 tbsp of spice mix in total. If it's a lot more, then set a little aside and taste it after an hour of cooking. If it seems a little on the weak side, add the rest. It's harder to turn a curry that's too strong, weaker.
Wholes spices for toasting
10 cardamon pods
1 tsp coriander seed (powder is fine, but don't roast it.)
1tsp mustard seeds
1tsp fennel seed
1tsp cumin seeds (again dried power is fine).
Put all the whole spices in a flat pan with no oil. Put on a medium heat. You will want to toast them for around 5 mins. It's ok if they smoke, but not too much. Keep moving them when they start to smoke.
Once done, remove the cardamom pods and set aside. Transfer the rest quickly to a pestle and mortar, and grind them until they are a powder. I tend not to go too fine as i like a bit of texture to my curry.
Once ground add the powdered spices.
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp turmeric
1tsp powdered ginger (if you have ginger root, put a 1/2 tsp in and use the root with the garlic below.)
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp fenugreek
1/2tsp chili powder to taste (we use none, as my family are chili wimps, but i add chili sauce to my plate, once served).
You will need to put the mixed spice in with the cooking onions now. They need to be cooked together for another 5 mins.
Put the cardamom pods that you set aside earlier into the mortar and break the casing with the pestle. You need to open the casing and extract the little black seeds. This might seem like a pain, but cardamom is a heavenly spice; as amazing in ice cream as it is in a curry. Once you have the seeds out, crush them into a power too. Put half in with the spice/onion mix that cooking and keep the rest for your rice.
The onions should have had around 10-15 mins now and be thoroughly cooked through with the spices.
Peel, and finely chop 3-5 garlic cloves, depending on how much you like garlic. If you have ginger root, peel and finely chop about an inch and a half.
Add these to the onions and cook for a few minutes, just to get rid of the rawness.
Transfer to a slow cooker pot. I used an electric slow cooker, but a lidded casserole, dutch pot, or any oven dish with a well fitting lid would be fine.
Now you can add other veg to suit.
I used two just good sized bell peppers, skinned using a blowtorch. You can also go with green beans, potatoes (old season pots will thicken the curry quite a bit - possibly too much, so go with cubed starchy variety). carrots etc.. But you need veg that can take a lot of cooking.
Now you add the beef. The cut doesn't matter too much as it's a low and slow cook that will tenderise the toughest cuts. Also note, you could leave out the meat, be a bit more adventurous with the veg and make a veg curry.
Cube the beef into roughly 1 inch pieces and add to the curry.
Add 1 can of coconut milk. If you use cans with less than 60% coconut solids (a lot of them rip you off with added water), use the firm coconut solids from a 2nd can. Keep back the water, in case it turns out too thick.
Crumble in 2 stock cubes. Beef for beef and veg cubes for anything else.
We also added a good handful of sultanas and around 3 tbsp of dessicated coconut.
Give it a mix while bringing it up to the heat. It wll thicken some, so it if already looks too thick, slacken it off with some water.. It always helps if you bring the slow cooker pot up to heat on the stove top first.
Transfer to the slow cooker on the lowest setting, for a minimum of 5 hours.
For an oven, i'd suggest around 110 degress C, 230 F. I'm not an expert on slow cooking oven temps. To make sure it's ok, put the pot in the oven already heated, take it our after around 30 mins, and it should be slowly blipping away. no more or less. Adjust accordingly if it's too vigorous or not enough. Overall cooking time is plenty to get the temperature right.
If it's on low in a slow cooker, just leave it alone.
I learned this recipe from a British cook called Delia Smith. She was very famous here, but retired some 10 years ago. It's a fool proof and simple recipe for cooking all but brown rice (which take more cooking). It needs no rinsing.
If you can, use Basmati rice - it's the rice of choice for indian curries. It has very long grain and a wonderful fragrance. you can buy it for around $2-$3 per kilo. Keep it in a cool dry place and it will last for over a year.
Use 1 cup of rice for 3 people or two hungry people.
empty it into a sauce/small pan with a tight fitting lid.
Add the ground cardamom from earlier. You can also experiment with the rice at this stage with 1/2 tsp of turmeric for a great colour and flavour, and you can add a few cloves, but remember not to chew them when eating the rice - they're pungent.
Add cold water. Enough to cover the rice, plus about 1 fingers-width above the rice.
Leave it to stand in the cold water for 10 mins.
Turn up the heat and bring to a simmer. Let it simmer on low with a tight lid on for 10 minutes.
Turn it off and let it steam with a tight lid on for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and using a fork, fluff the rice by pulling the fork through the rice in short motions, not too harsh. This help to separate the grains in the pan.
If you want to go the extra mile, give the curry a stir, then add 1 tsp of garam masalla. It's a post-cooking spice that lifts the curry.
Oh man, it seemed so much easier making it, than writing it out.