A comforting beef, ginger and coconut curry
I frequently have conversations with people about food, from colleagues to friends, there’s no surprise in that as it’s a topic that I am pretty obsessed by. Quite often the focus ends up coming around to sharing our favourite foods and what we each love to cook or eat. So, why do we crave certain foods and why do they make us feel happy?
Sometimes it’s the immediacy, like with the sugar hit of chocolate and other times it’s the mood-boosting effect of foods that comfort the spirit and the body, especially at this time of year.
As the evenings draw in earlier and the weather gets colder, I crave dishes with warming spices, slow-cooked stews, curries, soups – all with plenty of colour to brighten up a day. A vibrant butternut squash soup or a salad made with bulgar wheat, beetroot, pumpkin seeds and walnuts are all the kind of food which will give me pleasure. I enjoy the glow of a warm kitchen on a cold day, like to listen to the radio and find satisfaction in preparing ingredients.
On a particularly grey, wet and windy weekend I was very much in the mood for comfort food and I decided to cook a beef curry with ginger. The recipe offered colour, flavour and warmth with ginger, tender slow-cooked beef together with rich coconut milk, and some zing from lime and coriander.
This recipe is based on one from Kitchen & Co (published in 2012), written by two friends who started on their food journey with a supper club, and now run their own food business called French & Grace. I have adapted it slightly, taking a few ingredients out, using Thai curry paste and my version serves 2, rather than the original, which is for 8.
As an aside, I would recommend the cookbook as it includes a great range of everyday seasonal recipes from pak choi broth, lentil, beetroot and ricotta salad, smoked haddock and sweet potato chowder and lamb and date kofte kebabs. The desserts deserve a mention, particularly the delicious beetroot, orange and chocolate brownies.
Beef, ginger and coconut curry
Ingredients (serves 2)
400g braising steak
1 star anise
4 cardamom pods
1cm ginger, peeled and chopped
1 x 440ml coconut milk
1 x 440ml tin of tomatoes
1 tablespoon red Thai curry paste
2 shallots, peeled and sliced
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1 cm cubes
½ red chilli, finely chopped, seeds removed
½ tablespoon fish sauce
A squeeze of lime and handful of fresh coriander
Add the beef, star anise, cardamom and coconut milk to a pan, bring to the boil and turn the heat down low. Partially cover and leave to cook for 2 hours.
Add the tomatoes, sweet potatoes, shallots, chilli, fish sauce and chilli paste, then leave uncovered to simmer for an hour until the beef is tender and the sauce has thickened.
Serve with rice, a squeeze of lime and a scattering of chopped fresh coriander.