May 28, 2007
Nadan Erachi Porichathu /Country Beef Fry
Beef fry is made famous and infamous by the various thattukadas and restaurants in Kerala. Every restaurant along the highway from Kannur to Trivandrum has their local derivative of the Beef fry ranging from dry to semi-dry served with porotta or borotta. More of a bachelor's favorite it is easy to make and crowd pleasing.
My name for it as "country fried beef" is a pun and comes from "Nadan", the malayalam word for "anything relating to the homeland (nadu)" which we translate quite roughly as "country"....:)So it is no way related to the American country fried steaks, smothered with gravy.
In my house, beef fry is little more than a sauteed extension of Beef Varatiyathu, where the meat is cooked with spices and herbs and then further sauteed with curry leaves, mustard seeds etc. The simple fried version is reserved for tiffins for long trips and for pickles taken to US for the beloved kids starved of nadan grass fed beef.
With US being the largest consumer of beef, you would think the meat here would be out of the world. Well, it is good for steaks and grills, with all the marbling and fat content, but when it comes to a dry meat fry (nadan erachi porichathu),nothing compares to the meat back home. Organic beef here is the closest that tastes similar to that.
After my wedding, at one of the earliest salkarams at my better half's relatives house, I wsa introduced to another side of the meat fry. Decadent, deep fried, fiery spicy and "can't stop eating it" yummy. One version was tiny pieces fried and mixed with chukkappam, button shaped chips made of rice flour. The other version was bigger pieces as a side dish for rice or porotta.
Also saw a hitherto before unknown side of my better half who couldn't put the plate down. As a newly married, it made a indelible impression..so the way to a person's heart is through their stomach.....of course, I had to get the recipe from his aunt which she happily gave as it is not so much of a recipe as a state of mind.
And since then, I keep trying the recipe with varying degrees of frying to replicate the taste. The proper way is to deep fry it but I still can't get myself to do it that all the time, being squeamish of the oil, (as RP makes fun of me), but love the clean spicy taste. This is my current final recipe for the nadan beef fry. For the best taste, dunk it in a deep fryer, but otherwise try it my way.
You Will need:
Beef: 1 lb
Hot Red Chili Powder- 3 tsp, more or less as per taste.
Turmeric-1 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Clean and cut the beef into small or very small pieces. Mix the red chili powder, turmeric and salt with the beef, adding 1 tsp vinegar. Keep aside for at least 15 minutes. Pressure cook the marinated beef for 1 whistle or 2(Depends on the quality of beef)till the beef is tender but not crumbly. US beef is soft so doesn't need a lot of cooking so vary the times according to your experience.
When the pressure cooker cools, open it and let the gravy be absorbed into the meat on slow heat. Taste and adjust the salt. Add no oil at this point. Heat oil in a nonstick preferably or a cast iron skillet or cheenachatti, add curry leaves and shallots sliced and then add the meat. Saute till the beef becomes dry and slightly crispy on the outside. Add more oil if it starts sticking to the bottom. If you like it hard and crunchy, keep frying and adding more oil. Serve hot.