Friday, November 23, 2007

Warm in a Bowl - Beef Curry with Toasted Spices

Beef Curry with Toasted Spices
It's finally starting to feel like fall around here. Some may scoff, but as a local, I definitely feel the seasonal changes here in San Diego. Somewhere along the line - about the time we switch from flip flops to uggs - the cooler weather and shorter days mean lots of fires in the fireplace, hot chocolate simmered on the stove and long cooked meals. This one-pot dish is something I've been making for a few years now - and it just keeps getting better. It takes a little while to prepare, since the meat needs to marinate for at least 2 hours, and the toasted spices are a little labor intensive, but I promise you it's worth it. The toasting spices will make your house smell fantastic, and you'll probably have some left over for the next round.
Beef Curry with Toasted Spices
I adapted this from a Cooking Light recipe by Bruce Aidells, mostly to make it a little spicier and to cut down the quantity. I don't make my own curry powder, and I sub fennel for fenugreek seeds in the toasted spices, since fenugreek is hard to find and very expensive. I have also made it without the cardamom with no problem. Bruce also suggests substituting cubed lamb for the beef, which I haven't tried - but I am sure it would be delicious. The recipe below will feed four to six, but it's a great meal for a crowd. If you're making a larger quantity you might want to just follow the original recipe, which serves twelve and calls for three pounds of meat.

Beef Curry with Toasted Spices
Adapted from a Cooking Light recipe by Bruce Aidells

For the Beef:
2 tsp. good yellow curry powder (I used Dean and Deluca Hot Curry Powder)
1/2 teaspoon flake sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 -2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces

Toasted spices:
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
3 whole cloves
1 fragrant cinnamon stick, broken
1/2 tsp chile pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt

Remaining ingredients:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, sliced vertically
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon Hungarian sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon pure chile powder or cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 1/2 cups low-salt beef broth
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro stems
2 Tablespoons of tomato paste

To prepare beef, combine first 3 ingredients; rub evenly over beef. Cover and chill 2 hours, tossing occasionally.

To prepare toasted spices, heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add coriander and next 6 ingredients (coriander through bay leaves); cook 1 minute or until fragrant, shaking pan constantly. Place coriander mixture, sugar, cardamom, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a spice or coffee grinder, and process until finely ground.

Heat 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add half of beef mixture; sauté 5 minutes or until browned on all sides. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon. Repeat procedure with remaining oil and beef mixture; remove from pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion and ginger to pan; cook 6 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add the toasted spice mixture, cayenne or chile powder, garlic, and paprika; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add beef, yogurt and remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 and a half to two hours - until the beef is tender.

The rice in the photo is the ready made Trader Joe's Jasmine Rice with Flaxseeds and Quinoa - it comes pouches on the pasta aisle, you just heat in the microwave for a minute or two. It's an easy cheat for two people, but if you're making it for more you'll probably want to cook up some Basmati or Jasmine rice, either would work. It would also be great with brown rice.

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