South Indian Spiced Beef with Pink Onions

by Nisha Thomas

Main Easy ​​​​​​​ 4 ​​​​​​​ Prep/Cook: 3 hours


500g of beef, any cut will do, but boneless is preferred

1/4 tsp cumin seeds

1/4 tsp fennel seeds

1 cinnamon stick, 2.5cm in length

2 cloves

2 cardamom pods

1 tbsp of Kashmiri chilli powder, or paprika

1 1/4 tbsp of ground coriander

3/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1 1/2 tsp curry powder, or any meat masala (optional)

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 small onion, pink, finely chopped

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1 tbsp of vinegar

salt, to taste

2 medium onions, pink, Julienned, plus a few spoonfuls for garnish

3 tbsp of vegetable oil

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 sprig of curry leaves


1. Dice the beef into cubes, making sure you get them about the same size for even cooking. Grind together the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and all the other powders together in a spice mill to get a fine powder
2. Add the finely diced pink onions, ginger and garlic pastes, vinegar and salt to the ground powder and mix well

3. Marinate the beef with this mix and keep aside for about half an hour. Marinating is completely optional but is advised

4. When ready to cook, transfer the marinated meat into a heavy bottomed pan, add about 1/2 cup of water and cook covered on low-medium heat until the meat is completely cooked through. This process could take up to 1 1/2 hours

5. Keep checking occasionally. If you find that there is no water left in the pan, keep adding around 1/3 cup each time. Don't add too much water, because you want a semi-dry consistency (as opposed to a curry) with the masala nicely sticking on to the beef pieces

6. When the meat is cooked to perfection (do a taste test), and there is no water left in the pan, take it off heat and set aside

7. The meat freezes well at this point. Once completely cool, transfer them to resealable bags and freeze. Continue with the next step once you thaw the meat

8. Heat oil in a large frying pan and add the mustard seeds. Cook until they start to splutter. Add the pink onions and curry leaves and sauté on medium heat until the onion slightly changes colour - do not wait until it completely browns

9. Tip in the meat, scraping down the pan to ensure you get as much masala out as possible, and slow-roast the beef and onions until the meat is dark in colour

10. Keep stirring the meat on and off so it doesn't keep sticking to the pan, and if needed add some more oil. Serve hot with some rice and poppadums