Beef recipes are not something that one normally associate with the Indian cuisine. Rightly too, it is hard to find beef in most states of India and in some places the consumption of beef might even be outlawed . There is one state that defies this norm – my beloved Kerala. We love cows and everything about them – milk , leather and beef. Of the many popular beef recipes parotta and beef fry is the most popular. But we will eat Beef fry (Beef ularthiyathu / Beef ualrthu as we call it) with other flat breads like roti or pathiri or bread, and if the occasion demands it with just a mug of beer or toddy;-).
Parotta and Beef fry is one of the hot selling items in the makeshift fast food stalls all over Kerala. It was a treat relished by us during the collage days and still is one of the favorites. Unlike the popular curries this is a dry dish where the spices coat the meat perfectly. Think of these as tiny kabobs on stove top. Plenty of onions and curry leaves add to the flavor. Often times bits of coconut comes to the party as well.
Strictly speaking nothing is fried here, and in fact it can be a very healthy lean dish when prepared with care. This is a good way to cook almost any cut of meat – cut into small pieces and add a few seasonings and (pressure) cook with a little added water till done. This cooked meat is sautéd with onions and more spices until all the moisture evaporates. Copious amounts of curry leaves and coconut bits are added to enhance the flavors. The end result is one where each piece of meat is coated perfectly in the blend of spices .
If you order it from a restaurant or fast food stall in Kerala you get a fiery dish, which many natives will tell you goes well with a mug of beer or toddy. Teetotalers prefer it with just parotta or pathiri and the health conscious ones pair it with chapathi (whole wheat flat breads). Malaylis are partial to alcohol – be it to forget the problems like the incessant rains , the countless hartals ( strikes or closure of business), power shortages and the like or to celebrate the big and small things in life. So it wont be unusual for us to share a plate of this with just a mug of beer or coconut toddy.
The recipe here is spicy, but in a more manageable way. So if you are not a fan of spicy foods or not planning on imitating Adam Richmond – just gloss over the green chili part of the recipe.
There are many a memories associated with this dish – from uncle S buying these from the “tattukada” to pure vegetarian friend sneaking it from another friend’s lunch box. The latter was kind of an enlightening moment – good food is a great leveler 🙂 .
So these are all the essentials that you need minus the coconut oil. If you do not have coconut oil use any neutral oil , but I strongly recommend coconut oil. It adds a certain caramel, nutty flavors that rounds out the spices. Talking about spices – the dish can be made without them , but a little bit of Garam Masala or its component spices takes it up a notch.
This recipe uses fresh ground spices, but you can substitute home made garam masala or a good store bought one. Look for a brand that has fennel and star anise and not too many other flavorings.
Though I love this dish, I am not big on meat. When I do make, we have a quite dining table – no complaints, no arguments over why one should eat – or even why one should dress to eat :-). For my part, there is something utterly satisfying about this. It is as if “The ancients in their abundance of wisdom came up with the two step cooking process to bring the whole family to the table” ! 😉 .
Journey from the pressure cooker to the frying pan. The road to becoming sinfully delicious is all about heat , spice and more heat!!!
Nadan Beef Fry
- Beef - 1 lb 500g
- Turmeric Powder - A pinch
- Salt - To taste
- Grated Ginger - 1 Tsp
- Grated Garlic - 2 Tsp
For Spice Powder (See Notes)
- Fennel seeds- 1 Tsp
- Cinnamon - 1" Inch Piece
- Cloves- 5
- Star Anise- 1
- Whole black pepper- 1/2 tsp
- Onions/Shallots - 2 C Sliced Thin
- Coriander Powder - 1 Tsp
- Chili Powder - 1/2 Tsp
- Curry Leaves -1 Sprig
- Green Chilies - 3 to 5 To taste
- Coconut oil - 2 - 4 Tbsp
- Coconut Slices - 2 Tbsp Optional
- Take all the ingredients for the spice powder in a coffee grinder and grind to a fine powder , or use 1 Tbsp garam masala.
- Cut the beef into 1/2 " cubes. Add 1/2 tsp salt , ginger, garlic , pinch of turmeric to the pressure cooker. Add about 1/4 C water and pressure cook for 1 whistle (or manual setting for 10 minutes with the vent sealed. Let the pressure release naturally.
- In a frying pan heat about 2 Tbsp of coconut oil. When hot add the sliced onions. Saute for a few minutes, adding more oil if needed. Add the green chilies , curry leaves and coconut slices. Once the coconut bits begin to brown and the curry leaves are bright green remove and reserve a few for garnishing later.
- Add the meat masala or the garam masala along with the coriander and chili powder. Reduce heat and cook for a minute until the aromas fill the air.
- Add the cooked beef along with the juices. Mix well and cook till dry over medium to medium low fire. Taste and adjust salt as needed. Stir occasionally to have the masala coat the meat evenly and to prevent the pieces from sticking to the and burning. If needed add a little more oil.
- The dish is done when no moisture remains and oil seems to separate from the meat. Turn the heat off. At this point if you like you could tilt the pan and drain the excess oil. Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with the reserved curry leaves and coconut.
- Stew meat or chuck roast are perfect for this dish. If using a tough cut add 1 tsp of vinegar to the beef while pressure cooking.
- Instead of fresh ground spices you can use Garam Masala or South Indian Meat Masala as well.
Important: Values are only estimates. Actuals vary depending on ingredients and serving size.
No, there was no toddy or beer to serve with this time .. Keeping it healthy 😉
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