I stole the opportunity to make another tomato-ish dish, as this time my father was going to be out at his yoga class, and not expecting anything much for dinner. I decided to give my copy of Mighty Spice Express another go, because nothing really tickled my fancy from the other cookbooks and I was in a curry sort of mood. I wanted something that was rich and flavour, but not going to take me hours and hours to cook. I hit upon this recipe for the Four Brothers Beef Curry, which looked absolutely delicious!
But I did switch things up a bit to suit my time and budget, including dropping the amount of potato, swapping from sirloin to mince, and adding in some carrot. Sirloin is too expensive a cut for my family to use it willy nilly, but the mince worked as well as I hoped it would. It soaked up the flavours beautifully, and gave the curry this really nice texture. It was then an extra wonderful dish in that we could also spread the curry on toast both for dinner, and for lunch the next day! Yum, yum!
This was also my first real attempt at using whole spices, to an extent. For example, although my dad uses them, I don’t often cook with cardamon pods. Mum always ends up getting several of the whole pods in her portion, and is then nearly blown off her feet when she bites into them unsuspectingly. This time was no exception. But both mum and my brother absolutely loved it like I did.
It was really exciting! Although I have to admit to standing there, giggling to myself, as it looked to me like I had thrown in spiders instead of star anise. The smells were divine as well, like nothing I had ever smelt before. When you stir-fry those spices before adding them to the sauce they release a sudden burst of rich, intense smells. It was heaven, and it was all there in my pot!
NOTE: If you’re worried about the amount of liquid not being enough, or you notice that maybe the sauce is getting stretched a bit thin, don’t worry too much. Add whatever extra liquid you like, e.g. more coconut milk, fish sauce, and tomato puree.
Adapted from The Mighty Spice Express by John Gregory-Smith
Four Brothers Beef Curry
Serves: 4, Prep: 10-15 mins, Cook: 30 mins
- 2 white potatoes, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 2 tsp lemon grass paste
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp crushed chilli
- Oil, for cooking
- 4 cardamon pods
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 4 cloves
- 400ml coconut cream, full-fat
- 2 tbsp tomato puree
- 2 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tsp sugar
- 500g beef mince
- 1 lime, to serve
- Chop the potatoes and carrot into small chunks, then put aside. Brown the mince with the carrot and potatoes, then set aside.
- Then combine the lemongrass paste with the chilli and garlic. This is your spice paste.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the cardamon, star anise, cinnamon and cloves (it helps to have them all ready and waiting in a bowl or small dish). Stir-fry for 30 seconds until fragrant, then tip in the spice paste and stir-fry for 10 seconds. Although be ready for the minced garlic to crackle and jump, as it tends to in hot oil.
- Pour in the mince and veggies, the coconut cream, tomato puree, fish sauce and sugar. Mix thoroughly, and then simmer gently for about 10 mins.
- Bring to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 5 mins.
- Remove the lid and cook for a further 10 mins, stirring occasionally, until the sauce starts to thicken.
- While this is happening, cut the lime into quarters.
- Serve the curry with wedges of lime.