I’ve been battling a particularly stubborn head cold for the past three weeks, which is why I haven’t attended to my blog for a while. After a lot of time spent in bed and zero desire for more than hot cups of soup and toast, my appetite’s finally returned and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about hot, hearty, melt-in-your-mouth beef curry – a curry hot enough to blast my sense of taste back!
If there was a bible in my house growing up, it was Charmaine Solomon’s Complete Asian Cookbook. It’s an encyclopaedic volume with regional recipes from each major Asian province, encompassing India, through the central countries to the coasts of Japan and down to the islands of South East Asia. Our copy was stained with splatters from many meals and the binding was only just holding the book together – a testament to its place in the kitchen.
Rendang daging is a dry fried beef curry from Indonesia. Curries from this part of the world bring together sweet, sour and salty tastes; gentle coconut-milk sauces fragrant with lemon grass and spices, piqued with chillies.
1.5kg chuck, blade or round steak
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
6 cloves garlic
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
4 fresh red chillies
2 cups thick coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground tumeric
3 tsp chilli powder (optional)
2 tsp ground coriander
6 curry leaves
1 stem fresh lemon grass
1 tsp laos powder
1/2 cup tamarind liquid (3 tbsp tamarind paste mixed with 1/2 cup hot water)
2 tsp sugar
Cut the beef into cubes, about 2.5 centimetres wide and set aside.
Place onions, garlic, ginger and chillies in a blender with half a cup of coconut milk. Cover and blend to a smooth paste. Pour into a large saucepan over medium heat and wash out the blender with the remaining coconut milk to ensure you get every last bit of the paste. Add to the saucepan with all remaining ingredients except the tamarind liquid and sugar. Mix well, add meat and bring quickly to the boil.
Reduce heat to medium, add the tamarind liquid and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the gravy is thick. Turn the heat to low and continue cooking for about two and a half hours, until the gravy is almost dry, stirring frequently to ensure that the mixture doesn’t stick to the pan.
At the end of the cooking time, when the oil from the coconut milk has separated from the gravy, add the sugar and stir constantly to combine. Allow the meat to fry in the gravy until it is dark brown.
Serve with white rice, pappadums and a variety of traditional Indonesian sambals. Although cucumber raita isn’t traditional, I love having creamy, cool yogurt to serve alongside hot curry. Any leftover curry will keep well and will develop even more flavour each day.