Beef Curry

DSC_1319 I made four kilos of beef curry.  It took most of the day to cook, but a little part of the day to prepare.  It warmed the kitchen while cozying you up inside with a fantastic aroma.  I used a recipe given to me by a friend and fellow beef eater.  It’s Peter Kuruvita’s Sri Lankan Beef Curry.  I’ve made it so many times that I have a few variations to reduce labor, pots, pans and availability of ingredients.

First, some beef.  I used the “beef bourguignon” cuts from our meat box.  I cut the chunks a bit smaller as I have young kids with cute, little teeth.  It’s easier for them this way.

DSC_1104 I marinate over night in all the spices and the ginger.  For a 1 kilo batch, the spices are:

  • Sri Lankan Curry powder, 5 tsp
  • ground cumin, 2 tsp
  • ground coriander, 2tsp
  • chili powder
  • cloves, 8
  • fenugreek seeds, 1 tsp
  • cardamom pods, 4
  • cinnamon sticks – crumbled, 2
  • tumeric powder, 1tsp

Everyone gets acquainted in the fridge.

DSC_1152 When I’m ready to cook, I chop a pile of onions and a load of garlic.  That goes in “Big Red,” our big pot that rules them all.  The onions and garlic bubble gently in butter waiting for the meat.

DSC_1150 In a butter-lard fat mix, the beef gets colored.

DSC_1154 I don’t brown it.  There will be enough flavor with everything else joining the beef curry party.

DSC_1158 The meat goes in Big Red with the onions and garlic.

DSC_1159Then the tomato paste, a little can ( not the little, little can. The tall, little can ).  Add some pepper.

DSC_1162 Then some water.  It looks watery, but don’t worry.  After some patience, it will turn all curry like.


On this day, award winning food blogger Anneli Faiers from Delicieux was around picking up some beef and met Big Red.  She gave him a stir and a sniff.

DSC_1175 This is her “hungry face.”  I think the curry was progressing nicely.

DSC_1169 A few hours later, beef curry magic.  I cooled it down and stuck it in the fridge for further infusion.  Curry the next day always seems to taste better.

DSC_1199 Some chutney, some Substance P perhaps some creme fraiche … lovely.  I thought my four kilo beef blast would last and I could pull some out of the freezer when I felt like an easy “chuck it in the pot” day.  It went.  All of it.  I managed to freeze a bit for later, but later came so soon.  It’s beef day today, maybe I’ll pull out Big Red and do it all again.

Preparing For Beef Curry, Sri Lankan Curry Powder

Out there in the world they sell curry powder blends ( My favorite being “Tandoori Ass.” ).  While there may be some good ones, my feeling is that these powders do not add much value to a dish.  After one bite,  I’m left with the feeling that I’ve lost my money on some overpriced turmeric.  My first experience with building a spice blend for Indian dishes was when my husband made a chickpea dish from Madhur Jaffrey’s little golden cookbook.  That dish was so panty-droppingly good, I called it “The Dish of Love.”  From that moment on, we make curry powder from the basic spices ( most of which begin with the letter ‘c’ ).

I made 4 kilos of beef curry the other week.  I use a recipe given to me by one of our beef loving customers.  But before you even think of going there, you need to whip up a batch of Sri Lankan Curry Powder.  It’s very simple.  Add the spices in a cast iron skillet and brown.  Then blend it.  The only trick is to not burn it while browning.  Cumin is the usual culprit, so you can add that in later as the rest of the goodies begin browning.

Sri Lankan curry powder recipes don’t vary much, I settled in on the one our friend gave me from Peter Kuruvita’s beef curry.  It does the job. And it goes a little something like this:

  • 50g coriander seeds
  • 25g cumin seeds
  • 25g fennel seeds
  • Three cinnamon sticks
  • 1 1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1/2 tsp cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 3 dried chilis

DSC_1385 Brown the spices until they smell like love.


Pour into a big bowl and grind in a “spice” grinder.  I use a coffee grinder.  I grind in batches.

Starts like this.


Ends like this.


I usually do a double grind to make sure I didn’t miss anybody.


Now you are set for beef curry a-go-go.  This blog post took longer than making that lovely curry powder.  I only wish I could insert a “scratch-n-sniff” button.