May 12, 2010
Beef Varattiyathu/ Erachi Varattiyathu/ Beef Sauted with Spices.
But over time, there are versions of the same recipe that I make, depending on the mood. It can become a dry fry, it can be an almost curry and it can be a cry.. a cross of a curry and fry. This is one recipe that changes in taste each time I make it, thanks to the cut of beef, the proportion of spices I add, whether I use shallots or onions, whether I use coconut oil or olive oil, whether I fry first and then cook or cook and then fry the meat. I try to pin it down but can't; But it is so instinctive in my recipe collection, that once I decide to make it, the hands just take over and its all auto pilot and lo its done.
My mom makes this as a curry, frying the onions first and then adding the beef with all the spices and sauteing it till all the water is gone and then pressure cooking it.
Try it any way and let me know which way works the best for you. Slow cooking this would be wonderful but needs a constant eye on it. Try with different cuts of the meat till you like a particular one. This recipe made with the Indian meat (more muscle, less marbling) is much better..flavorful and chewy but now that is stuff of vacations.
Beef Chuck Roast Cubes -1 kg/2lbs
Onion-1/2 of a medium sized one sliced
Small green chillies -6-10
Ginger -2 inch long piece
Garlic -10 cloves
Tomato - 1 small one chopped
Turmeric powder - 1 tsp
Roasted Coriander powder - 2 tbsp
Red chili powder -1 1/2 tsp( use less if u want it less spicy)
Kashmiri Red Chili Powder-1 tsp
Black pepper powder - 1 tsp
Fennel powder -3/4 tsp
Curry leaves, coriander leaves - A handful of each, washed and chopped
Salt to taste
Any oil - 3 tbsp (coconut oil tastes the best)
Onions - 1 medium one, thinly sliced
Shallots -20 peeled and sliced
Green Chilies- 2-3 slit vertically
Curry Leaves- as much as u like
Clean and cut the beef into small pieces. Grind ginger, green chillies and garlic into a coarse paste (or mince it very fine, as my grandmother does) and mix it with the beef. Keep the beef marinated aside for a while, at least half hour.
Slow cooking:Add the marinated beef, tomato, spices and the rest of the ingredients including the leaves in a thick bottom pan. If you have a lot of time and have work in the Kitchen for an hour, cover and slow cook the meat on low heat for an hour, stirring it once in a while to prevent it from sticking to the pan. You will need to add water( 1/2 to 1 cup, as needed) to the pot to keep liquid in for cooking.
Pressure cooker: Alternately, if you are like me, working in the kitchen in between other errands, pressure cook the meat. Place the marinated meat, the half onion, tomato, ginger-green chili paste and the rest of the ingredients including the leaves in the cooker on high heat for 5 minutes and then place the lid and allow it come to the first whistle. Lower the heat to minimum and cook for five minutes. Cool down, open the cooker and check and cook again if its not done. If you are using a pressure cooker, no need to add water at any stage. There will be excess water in the meat to cook itself.
Heat the coconut oil ( best in taste, but maybe too strong for non-Keralites) or any oil (olive, peanut, sunflower) in a non-stick pan and add the curry leaves. Then add the slit green chilies and sliced onions and shallots. Add coconut cut pieces and fresh garlic slices too if you like. The coconut cuts really add to the taste. Saute the shallots and onions till wilted. Add the meat with the remaining gravy. Saute on medium heat till semi-dry and still moist. Not fully dried.
Dry Fry: Omit tomatoes while pressure cooking the meat. If you like it as a dry dish, let the liquid in the cooker evaporate on high heat. Reduce the amount of the shallots or completely omit onions and shallots. Fry the curry leaves, green chilies in a wok or non stick pan in 3-4 tbsp oil and then add the dry pieces without any gravy to the pan. Stir fry (more oil, more taste...so use ur judgment, add more oil if needed) till it is crisp and brown on the outside.