The Daring Cooks Make Sri Lankan Beef Curry | The Gingered Whisk: The Daring Cooks Make Sri Lankan Beef Curry

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Daring Cooks Make Sri Lankan Beef Curry

Mary, who writes the delicious blog, Mary Mary Culinary was our August Daring Cooks’ host. Mary chose to show us how delicious South Indian cuisine is! She challenged us to make Appam and another South Indian/Sri Lankan dish to go with the warm flat bread.


This month's challenge was a doozy for me. No one in my family (except for me) particularly likes Indian food, so I was really worried that no one was going to like it! I had a really hard time finding all the spices, too. Apparently, whole spices is completely foreign concept in this town, and the only thing I could find was a cinnamon stick - and I had to seriously hunt for that. So I wasn't able to roast the spices and get the full awesomeness that it was supposed to be. I also, surprise surprise, was not able to find tamarind paste/pulp, so I had to make my own, and you can find a recipe for that down below. And I don't think I have to even tell you that I couldn't find curry leaves. However, after some internet research I found that you can use bay leaves as a replacement, although its not quite the same, it can do. So...I had to substitute almost half of my flavorings. I was really worried that it was going to be too much flavor for my family, so I only used 1/2 the spice recipe. But then it was almost too bland, so I added another 1/4 of the spices, and it turned to be just the amount of spices that we needed.

We were also challenged to make Appam, which is a thin white bread made from fermented rice and coconut milk. I had, uh, a "bit" of trouble with this one. First off, I don't have a teflon pan, so it took a few tries to try and find the right pan for this recipe. It was a cast iron, of course. Secondly, I'm not sure if it was right or not, but there was a lot of grit left to my rice. I soaked my rice overnight, and it was still fairly crunchy when it was time to grind it up, so I am not sure if this affected the quality of my appam or not. I made a grand total of 3 appam before I threw in the towel. Hey, we were hungry! The first stuck horribly to the pan because I used the wrong pan. After the cast iron skillet was warmed up, we left the second one in a bit too long and it burned. The third one came out perfectly, we tried it, and decided it wasn't worth our time because we were hungry. I didn't include the recipe for this because I don't think it turned out well and we didn't like it. However, if you would like the recipe, just send me an email and I will gladly send it to you!

Overall, we got really mixed reviews about this. Ladybug wouldn't touch it, my Dad said it was "so-so", Joel gave it "a solid C+", my Mom, surprisingly, went back for seconds, and I really liked it. Haha. This recipe was fairly easy and straightforward to make, though, and that is always good in my book!

Sri Lankan Beef Curry
Servings: 4 (though 6 of us finished a double recipe!) Serve with rice (I suggest basmati!) 

1 pound (½ kg) boneless beef (such as round steak or roast), or about 1 ½ pounds (¾ kg) short ribs or cross ribs (or boneless lamb shoulder)
1 tablespoon (15 ml) vegetable oil
10 fresh or frozen curry leaves
1 green cayenne chili, finely chopped
generous 1 cup (250ml/250 gm/9 oz) finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon (5 ml/3 gm) turmeric
1 teaspoon (5 ml/6 gm) salt
½ cup (120 ml) coconut milk
1 tablespoon (15 ml/15 gm) tamarind pulp
¼ cup (60 ml) hot water
3 cups (720 ml) water
Dry Spice Mixture:
1 tablespoon (15 ml/13 gm) raw white rice
1 tablespoon (15 ml/10 gm) coriander seeds
1 teaspoon (5 ml/4 gm) cumin seeds
one 1-inch piece (2½ cm) cinnamon or cassia stick
seeds from 2 pods of green cardamom

1. Cut the beef into ½ inch (13 mm) cubes or separate the ribs. Set aside.
2. In a small heavy skillet, roast the dry spice mixture over medium to medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until it smells amazing! You will be able to see that the rice is a toasted color.
3. Transfer to a spice grinder or mortar and grind/pound to a powder. Set aside.
Chop the tamarind pulp and soak it in the hot water. Set aside
4. In a large, wide pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the curry leaves, green chile, onion and turmeric and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Add the meat and salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so all surfaces of the meat get browned.
5. Add the reserved spice mixture and the coconut milk and stir to coat the meat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Press the soaked tamarind through a sieve placed over a bowl. Use a spoon to press all the liquid and pulp out. Discard the seeds and stringy bits. Add the tamarind liquid to the 3 cups of water.

7. Add the tamarind/water mixture to the pot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook uncovered at a strong simmer for about an hour, until the meat is tender and the flavors are well blended. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve hot.

Tamarind Paste Substitute (Spark Recipes)
1 tbsp chopped dates
1 tbsp chopped prunes
1 tbsp chopped dried apricots
1 tbsp lemon juice

Place all the fruit in a small bowl and our enough boiling water over to cover.
Let stand 15 minutes and then drain.
Place the drained fruit and lemon juice into a food processor and blend to a thick paste. Use immediately.
Makes 2-3 tablespoons. 


  1. Bravo for trying! I also had problems with my appam but 3 cooperated for picture taking. Your beef curry looks delicious!

  2. The issue you had with the appam is exactly why I had to switch pans in my photos. My stainless steel one so did not work well with it.}:/

    The beef curry looks delicious though!

    (And I missed your post in my RSS feed last night when leaving comments. I KNEW I'd missed one, but not which one.}:/)

  3. You were brave to try it despite the lack of almost all spices. Sorry to hear the appams didn't work for you, but I'm sure the curry was delicious with the rice :)

  4. my family (meaning my parents) are the same way..can't stand super spiced, flavorful food. With my mother, the blander, the better!

    LOL@ finding a cinnamon stick. Your sri lankan beef looks awesome! Whenever I hear Sri Lankan 'anything', I think of Duran Duran and the 'Hungry Like the Wolf' video. They filmed it there..Just sayin..



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