How to cook… Grandma’s Beef Curry


Serves 4 as a main dish

This is a classic 1960s-style ‘curry’ just like British grandmas used to make. The first recipe for “Indian Currey” appeared in English cookbooks in the 18th century and the Hindoostane Coffee House, considered to be the nation’s first curry restaurant, opened in London in 1810. But it’s unlikely the average British households had many spices in their cupboard till many years after that. When they did bravely venture into the world of Indian cooking it’s likely to have been a generic curry powder that found its way to a place next to the more common staples. Adventurous grandmas would have simply added a couple of spoonfuls of this spice mix to a beef stew along with other exotic (at the time) ingredients such as coconut, sultanas and chutney for sweetness. Hey presto! Grandma’s Beef Curry. Of course, beef is not found in too many parts of India, but that would have escaped many of these cooks. Just adding the curry powder was enough at this stage.

What you need…
• 600g stewing beef, cut into bite-sized pieces
• 2 Tablespoons flour
• 1 Tablespoon oil
• 1 large knob of butter
• 1 cooking apple (or 2 Granny Smith apples), peeled and cored, and cut into chunks of about 1.5cm
• 2 onions, chopped
• 2 tablespoons cornflour, mixed with water to make a thin paste
• 2 Tablespoons curry powder
• 2 tomatoes, chopped
• 400ml beef stock
• 1 Tablespoon brown sauce
• Salt to taste
• Pepper to taste
• 2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks of about 4cm
• 1 Tablespoon desiccated coconut
• 2 Tablespoons sultanas
• 1 Tablespoon sweet chutney (optional)

How to make it
1. Heat the oil to a medium-high heat in a pan. While it is heating coat the beef in flour. Once the pan is ready add the beef and cook until all the pieces are sealed (about 4–5 minutes). Remove the beef from the pan and set aside.
2. Turn down the heat and add the butter. Once it’s melted add the onion and apple and cook gently until everything has softened (about 8 minutes).
3. Add the cornflour mix and curry powder and keep stirring for 3 minutes. Add a splash of water to stop it sticking if needed.
4. Add the beef (with any juices), tomatoes, stock, brown sauce, salt, pepper and potatoes and mix well. Cover the pan and cook for on a low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
5. Add the coconut, sultanas and chutney, mix well and continue cooking, uncovered for 10 minutes. The beef should be soft and the ‘curry’ thickened.
6. Add a sprinkle of coconut and a few sultanas to garnish and serve.

This is what many people in Britain would have experienced as their first taste of a curry. Don’t temped to add more spices.
Grandma’s Beef Curry would have been seen as exotic in many British households in the 1960s.

If you like this you should try our
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Check out 5 Best Goa Curries

What do you sing after getting served this dish. “Grandma, I love you!”

How to cook… Prawn Dhansak


Serves 4 as a main dish

Prawns work well with this sweet and sour dish. Dhansak originates from Persia (Iran) although the chefs of the day would have used meat for this dish. Lentils and mixed vegetables are added to some Base Curry Sauce, with sugar and lime (or lemon) juice adding the sweet and sour tastes. Large prawns soak up those flavours nicely.

What you need…
• 120g red split lentils, washed and well rinsed
• 3 Tablespoons ghee
• 600ml Base Curry Sauce
• 1 Tablespoon tomato ketchup
• 600g prawns, shelled and deveined
• 400g mixed (frozen or tinned) vegetables, cut into small pieces
• 1 green chilli, chopped
• 1 Tablespoon sugar
• 1 Tablespoon lime or lemon juice (or vinegar)
• salt, to taste

Spice Mix
• 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
• 1 Tablespoon mild curry powder
• 1 Tablespoon garam masala

How to make it…
1. Boil the lentils with water until cooked (about 25–30 minutes).
2. Heat the ghee in a pan to a medium heat. Add the Base Curry Sauce and cook for 2 minutes.
3. Add the Spice Mix and tomato ketchup, and cook for 3 minutes.
4. Add the cooked lentils, prawns and the rest of the ingredients, mix well and simmer, allowing the flavours to combine until all the prawns are cooked. Add water during the simmer, if needed.

Frozen or tinned are quick and easy but you can use use fresh vegetables if you par-boil them first before adding them to the Base Curry Sauce.
Prawns make an excellent main ingredients in Dhansak, beautifully soaking up the sweet and sour tastes.

If you like this you should try our
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How does this dish make some money? … Visits the prawn shop.