Kerala Beef Fry

13 Oct

“Holy Cow! Do Indians eat Beef?”

The answer to that is yes, just not all of them. Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism and the majority of Hindus in India do not eat beef. When people think of India they immediately associate it with Indians not eating beef. While Hinduism is the major religion (80.5% of the population), India also has 13.4% Muslims and 2.3% Christians. That seems like a rather small percentage until you realize we are talking about a population of over a billion people.  There are also a growing number of expatriates and repatriates in India who are beef eaters.

Eating beef is not illegal in India, though cow slaughtering is prohibited in some states.  Then there is also the controversy over cows and buffaloes – cows are considered holy but their cousins the buffaloes are frequently used to process beef in India. In fact, USDA has projected that India will become the largest beef exporter in 2012. 

In short, beef in served at several restaurants across India and is also cooked in several households. One of my favorite Indian beef recipes is Beef Ularthiyathu better known as Spicy Kerala Beef Fry. Bite size pieces of beef are marinated in freshly ground aromatic spices, then pressure cooked till tender and finally fried with fragrant curry leaves and slivers of coconut. Kerala beef fry is usually served with flaky Kerala parathas or fluffy appams, but regular chapatis or basmati rice works just fine as this dish will be the real star of the meal.

Kerala Beef Fry Recipe:
Adapted from Petrina Verma Sarkar’s Kerala Beef Fry Recipe
Time: In Active time:  1.5hrs   Active time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

Marinade Ingredients:
1 inch cinnamon stick
3 teaspoons fennel seeds
8 cloves
16 whole black peppercorns
5 green cardamom pods, seeds only
1 ½ tablespoons coriander powder
1 tablespoon ginger paste
1 tablespoon garlic paste
1 tablespoon vinegar
½ peeled and thinly sliced medium red onion
2 green chilies, sliced

Cooking Ingredients:
Boneless Beef 1.5 lbs, cleaned and cut up into 1.5 inch chunks (I used stew meat)
1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
1 peeled and thinly sliced medium red onion
10 curry leaves
2 green chilies
3 tablespoons dried, grated coconut (See note)
½ teaspoon red chili powder (See note)
Salt to taste

Note:

  • Traditionally this is made with slices of fresh coconut, so if you have access to fresh coconut of sliced frozen coconut, you can use that instead of the dried, grated coconut.
  • Feel free to add more chili powder after tasting it and deciding how spicy you want it to be.

Method:
1) In a spice grinder or coffee grinder, grind together the cinnamon stick, fennel seeds, cloves, peppercorns and cardamom.
2) Put the beef into a large bowl and mix it with the ground up spice mixture and all other marinade ingredients. Plastic wrap this bowl and place the beef in the refrigerator, and let it marinate for 1-2 hours.
3) Put the marinated beef along with ½ a cup of water into a pressure cooker and let it cook till you hear two whistles. You want the meat to be cooked through and tender. Simmer out most of the remaining water, leaving behind only 2-3 tablespoons of liquid.
4) In a large skillet heat the oil on medium high heat. When the oil is hot add 1 thinly sliced onion to it and sauté till golden brown. Stir the onions occasionally to ensure they do not burn.
5) Add the curry leaves and green chilies fry them for 1-2 minutes.
6) Then add the coconut and cook it for about 2 minutes or till is toasty.
7) Now add the beef with the 2-3 tablespoons of reserved cooking liquid (from the pressure cooker) and cook everything together till the beef turns a deep, dark color.
8) Serve hot with basmati rice, rotis, parathas, dosas or appams.

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