January’s dish of the month features the recipe for a rich, winter-warming Beef Bhuna.
Bhuna is a term you commonly find on restaurant menus. It refers to cooking meat with spices with little or no water added. This requires constant stirring to prevent the spices sticking to the bottom of the pan but the resulting dish is rich and intense in flavour from the caramelisation of the onions and the frying of the spices. I’ve made things easier here by adding a little water but do make sure that all or most of it dries up so there is no loss of flavour.
- 750g boneless beef chuck steak, cut into 4cm cubes
- 3 tbsp ghee
- ½ tsp cloves
- 2 green cardamom pods
- 1 black cardamom pod
- ½ tsp black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 green chillies, slit lengthwise in half
- 250ml water
- 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
- 2.5cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp tamarind paste
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
- A pinch of sugar
For the marinade
- 2 onions, finely chopped
- 3 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp red chilli powder
- 2 tsp cumin seeds, roasted in a dry frying pan and then ground
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp ground turmeric
Mix together all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the beef, turning to coat it well, and set aside for 30 minutes.
Heat the ghee in a large, heavy based pan, add the whole spices and bay leaves and let them splutter. Add the marinated meat and stir well over a high heat, until the juices are absorbed and the meat begins to brown. Add the green chillies and water, then reduce the heat, cover and cook gently for 25-30 minutes, until the beef is about two-thirds done. Add the tomatoes and ginger and cook for 8-10 minutes over a high heat, stirring all the time to mash up the tomatoes. You may have to add a couple of tablespoons of water to prevent the sauce sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When fat begins to leave the side of the pan, the meat has reached the bhuna stage. Now stir in the tamarind paste and lemon juice, followed by the chopped coriander. Finally add the pinch of sugar, then cover the pan and switch off the heat. Leave for about 5 minutes so the meat can complete the cooking in its own heat. Serve with layered parathas.