Spicy beef fry or beef roast is a traditional dish from the South Indian state of Kerala. Cubed meat is cooked with spices till tender and roasted in a mix of onions, spices, and herbs till each morsel gets a caramelized coating of the spice mix. This dish is usually served with flatbreads and a great way to share a drink or two with friends. Gluten-Free, Dairy Free
Beef recipes are not something that one normally associates with India. Rightly too, it is hard to find beef in most states of India, and in some places, the sale and consumption of beef might even be illegal. There is one state that defies this norm – my beloved Kerala. We love cows and everything about them – milk, leather, and beef.
Parotta and beef fry is one of the most sought-after meals in local eateries. Though it is usually called beef fry, the more appropriate name will be beef roast. There is no frying involved and the dish is slow-roasted giving it the mouthwatering caramelized spicy flavors. In the local language, it is Beef or erachi Ularthu or Beef Ualrthiyathu.
Beef and Kerala Cuisine
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 college days and still is one of the favorites. Unlike curries, this is a dry dish where the spices coat the meat perfectly. Think of these as tiny kabobs on the stovetop. Plenty of onions and curry leaves add to the flavor. Oftentimes bits of coconut come to the party as well.
There are many memories associated with this dish – from uncle S buying these from the “tattukada” to a strictly vegetarian friend sneaking it from another friend’s lunch box. The latter was kind of an enlightening moment – good food is a great leveler.
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 chapati (whole wheat flatbreads). Malayalis are partial to alcohol. It helps us forget the problems like the incessant rains, the countless hartals ( protests demanding closure of business), power shortages, and the like as well as celebrate the big and small things in life. So it won’t be unusual for us to share a plate of this with just a mug of beer or coconut toddy.
Ingredients For Beef Fry
Beef, onions, ginger, garlic, spices, curry leaves, coconut slices, peppers – these are the ingredients in this recipe.
So these are all the essentials that you need minus the coconut oil.
Beef: Stew meat, chuck roast, or almost any kind of meat can be used in this. It works great with lamb/goat as well.
Oil: If you do not have coconut oil use any neutral oil, but I strongly recommend coconut oil. It adds a certain caramel, nutty flavor that rounds out the spices.
Spices: The dish can be made without them, but a little bit of Garam Masala or its component spices take it up a notch. This recipe uses fresh ground spices, but you can substitute homemade garam masala or a good store-bought one. Look for a brand that has fennel and star anise and not too many other flavorings.
Onions: In the traditional version pearl onions or shallots are used and many purists will swear by it. But regular red onions or even the yellow ones will taste great. Just don’t leave out the onions.
Curry leaves, Green Chilies, Coconut Slices: All these 3 give the dish its classic south Indian flavors. Birdseye chilies are the preferred ones, but use what you can find. Of all these coconut is the ingredient that I often leave out. The dish will taste good without any of these, but it won’t be quite the same.
How to Make Kerala Style Beef Fry or Beef Roast at Home
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 or the current spice champs, just gloss over the green chili part of the recipe.
Strictly speaking, nothing is fried here, and it can be a very healthy lean dish when prepared with care.
The dish is made in two steps.
Cut into small pieces, trim excess fat (some fat is OK ), and add a few seasonings and pressure cook with a little added water till done. For tender slices pressure cooking in manual mode for 5 minutes or until one whistle is good enough. When using tougher cuts of meat cook longer.
In a frying pan heat the oil and add the onions, green chilies, curry leaves, etc. and sauté for a few minutes. To this add the cooked meat with the juices, spices, etc., and slow roast stirring in between until the moisture evaporates. The dish is done when there is no excess moisture and all pieces are coated in the spice mix.
The journey from the pressure cooker to the frying pan. The road to becoming sinfully delicious is all about heat, spice, and more heat!!!
How to Serve
As I mentioned earlier usually beef roast is served with flatbreads. Here are a few recipes to try
- Parotta – A layered flaky flat bread
- Pathiri – Flat bread made with rice flour (Gluten Free)
- Jowar roti – Flat bread made with Shorgum (Gluten Free)
- Everyday Flatbread – Easy no fail flatbread for beginners
- Lemon Rice – A tangy light rice dish
- Nei Choru – Basmati rice with aromatic spices.
It makes a killer lettuce wrap and I like to top cucumber slices with it as well. But there is no requirement that you have to serve it with carbs or any other food at all just a mug of beer or toddy will do quite fine.
Nadan Beef Fry
- Pressure Cooker / IP
- Heavy Bottomed pan
- 1 lb Beef cubed (500g)
- 1 pinch Turmeric Powder
- Salt to taste
- 1 tsp Ginger grated, or minced
- 2 tsp Garlic grated or minced
For Spice Powder (See Notes)
- 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 1 inch Cinnamon Stick
- 5 Cloves
- 1 Star Anise
- 1/2 tsp Black Peppercorns
- 2 cup Onions/Shallots sliced thin
- 1 Tsp Coriander Powder
- 1/2 tsp Chili Powder
- 1 sprig Curry Leaves
- 3-5 Green Chilies to taste
- 4 tbsp Coconut Oil
- 2 tbsp Coconut Slices 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, a 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 pan 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 is 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: Nutrition Values are estimates. Actuals vary based on ingredients and serving size.
No, there was no toddy or beer to serve with this time .. Keeping it healthy 😉
Interested in more Kerala recipes? Try these
- Konju Theeyal – Prawns in Roasted Coconut curry
- Kozhy Ishtu – Chicken in mildly flavored coconut sauce
- Avial – A semi dry Mix vegetable treat
- Tuna Cutlets – Deep fried spiced tuna patties
- Chemmeen Manga Curry – Shrimp and raw mangoes
- Tahravu Mappas – Spicy Duck Curry
- Mathi Mulakittathu – Spicy Sardine Curry