In the office where I work, about 95% of our conversation revolves around food. Appreciative mumbling through mouthfuls of cake that someone’s baked and brought in, dissecting last night’s episode of Masterchef or Bake Off, or reminiscing about such childhood delights as corned beef. (Remember corned beef?)
In the year (almost to the day) since I’ve worked there, I’ve picked up loads of new recipes from my team following mundane conversations about what we’ve all been doing with our Christmas leftovers or from snooping over someone’s lunch, going: “Ooh, that smells amazing!”
This recipe came from one such occasion, when my colleague Jo was enjoying what looked and smelled like a delicious bowl of leftover curry at her desk next to me. It was a recipe from an old slow cooker book, which ended up being shared with the whole team. I think pretty much all of us have cooked it at least once since, so I guess it’s our official team dish (if that’s a thing – if not, it should be).
This is my own version of the curry, but I’ve included Jo’s original, slightly ‘rustic’ iPhone picture of the recipe at the bottom.
- The seeds from 5 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick, cracked open
- 2 star anise
- 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
- 2 average sized red onions
- 500g beef casserole steak, cut into chunks
- 2 lemongrass stalks, topped and tailed and tough outer leaves removed
- Green chillies – I usually use three or four, with a couple of them deseeded. Adjust to your own preference though.
- A thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and cut into pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- Half a beef stock cube
- 200ml coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- A large carrot, scrubbed or peeled and diced into roughly 1cm pieces
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 a teaspoon ground cinnamon
Add the cardamom seeds, cinnamon stick, star anise, cumin seeds and coriander seeds to a dry pan and toast until fragrant. Remove the star anise and cinnamon stick and set aside. Put the rest of the spices into a pestle and mortar with a pinch of sea salt and grind to a powder. Set aside.
Slice one and a half of the red onions into half moons, add to the pan with a dash of oil and a pinch of salt and and fry until nicely softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Brown the meat in batches in the pan and set aside, covering with foil.
Whizz the lemongrass, chillies, ginger, garlic and the remaining half a red onion with a blender wand until they form a smooth, fine paste. Add the paste to the pan with a drizzle of oil and a small pinch of salt and fry off until nicely coloured.
Add the other fried onions back to the pan, along with the toasted and ground spices, coconut milk, half stock cube, soy sauce, carrot, turmeric and ground cinnamon. Stir everything together and simmer for a moment until you have a nice curry sauce consistency.
Add the contents of the pan to a slow cooker along with the beef (including any meat juices) and stir together.
Cook in the slow cooker on low for as long as possible – ideally at least 6 hours. You could also cook this long and low in an oven.
Before serving, fish out as much of the cinnamon stick and star anise-y bits as you can, and maybe warn any fellow diners that there might still be some surprise bits lurking…
Serves 2 hungry people or 3 normal people.