I work in a small country club kitchen with a lovely bunch of ladies. I’m forever saying things like “ooh this dish is gourmet” or even better, ‘gourmet of gourmet'” and you know you’ve hit the jackpot, when I burst forth with “gourmet of ALL gourmets”
“this dish is not going to win any awards” or “my mother would be so proud” is average and okayish
Then there is a series of choice words if dishes aren’t up to scratch…. we won’t go into that as my mother reads my blog.
I only recently discovered, after 3 years of throwing the word gourmet around the kitchen, like a small dwarf at a dwarf throwing competition (there is such a thing) that no one, had any idea what gourmet meant. I explained, a gourmet is a connoisseur of fine food and drink OR a cultural ideal, associated with the culinary arts of fine food and drink…………………………as if I would say something like that……….NOT!!!
I said “gourmet is gourmet” It’s what makes your heart smile before it reaches your face. It’s the need to share your heart on a plate with your loved ones. It’s the reactions of strangers as they taste your food – that gut reaction as their eyes widen, their heads tilt and their brain registers ‘gourmet’…..I’m fueled by this reaction.
With all that said it has become the standard to how we judge all the meals we cook in our kitchen. We always strive to hit the ‘gourmet of ALL gourmets’.
I’m reminded of my 1st day at the club. I arrived to utter chaos – the manageress was in the throes of moving and running around like a chicken without a head, 2 of the 4 kitchen staff were off sick , there were no tomatoes and I was instructed to make a beef curry for 16 farmers by 12h00. There were none of the spices I was accustomed to, the meat was frozen and the pots so big, you could live in them- BBC could host a show – Designer Pots and the Art of Living in small spaces….true story.
I didn’t have the luxury of marinating my meat, no fresh garlic or ginger, no special blend of spices and none of my staple curry paste on hand either…..I had to make a simple beef curry and I had to make it fast. For the life of me I don’t know how I managed it, but I did. It was ‘gourmet’, simply gourmet. I knew it, the staff knew and so did the farmers.
It has become my favourite simple beef curry recipe, my go to recipe when the weather turns moody & cold and I’m too lazy to cook like a ninja….it’s tasty, it’s simple and you guessed it…………..’gourmet’
Mild Beef Curry
- 2kg of stewing beef pieces OR a combination of blade,chuck & short rib (see note 1)
- 2x big onions, chopped
- 4x garlic cloves finely chopped
- 2cm fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 30ml of tomato paste
- 1x Beef stock cube dissolved in 500ml of boiling water.
- 30ml hot curry powder
- 30ml Garam masala
- 15ml chilli powder
- 15ml dried chilli flakes
- 15ml turmeric
- 30ml Breyani mix – a little bit of everything.
- 10ml sugar
- 1kg potatoes, peeled & quartered
- Sunflower oil
- Heat a big glug of sunflower oil in a heavy based pot. Add the onions, garlic & ginger. Fry for a few minutes. See note 2 about ‘big glug’
- Turn the heat down low and add spices starting with the breyani mix then the rest in any order. Keep stirring to prevent the spices from burning. Fry on low for at least 5min – see note 3
- Add the beef in batches, stirring continuously to ensure the beef is coated in all the spices. Fry gently for at least 10min….it is important that you dry fry the spices over a low heat to ensure best results.
- Once the beef & spices are well combined, add the tomato paste and sugar.
- Check your flavour, is there enough heat etc. If not add chilli powder or curry spice now before you add the stock. Fry for a further 2-3min
- Add the beef stock….you might need to add more or less depending on the quantity of meat in the pot. Season with a little salt. See note 4
- Bring the curry to the boil then turn the heat down low, place the lid on and simmer for approx. 40min -60min – see note 5
- While the curry is cooking, boil the potatoes until just soft.
- Add the cooked potatoes to the curry after 40min and cook on low with the lid on for the remaining 20min.
- Serve with basmati rice, sambals or coriander salsa.
Note 1: I like to buy the fatty tougher cuts of meat like blade, chuck and short rib and then chop it up myself. This combination makes the best beef curry.
Note 2: A big glug of oil means a big glug, approx 100ml of oil. You need the oil base in order to dry fry your spices, too little oil and you will burn the spices . – see note 3.
Note 3: Dry frying doesn’t actually mean a completely dry pan it just means the omission of water/liquid. In order to achieve the best results one needs to fry your spices in the oil over a gentle heat for at least 10 min. This is a valuable tip, it will transform your curries.
Note 4: Adding the right amount of stock is important – too much and your curry will be watery, too little to dry. 500- 600ml is a good gauge. If you need to add more liquid just add water. Remember the more water you add the less flavour you’ll have.
Note 5: To avoid adding more water during the cooking process, keep your temp low and your curry at a simmer. Keep the lid on to prevent evaporation.