Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Beef Fry, Spiced and Done the Kerala Way

With Indian food, being so popular, you'd think those puffed up naans, cream laden curries, red hot tandooris and sought after tikka masalas that populate restaurant menus and pub dining are day to day naturals in the common Indian home. Well, I have news for you. Honest good they may be, though not the be- all of the Indian culinary experience. A due injustice, it is, actually to all of you who lie in the unknown. And more so to those other parts of the country, less stumbled upon, which offer more than ample plates of undiscovered awesome. A colossal expanse of good eats lie tucked away in hills of the East stretching to the coastal cities along the Western parts, further extending to the freshwater borders of the Southern tip. And it is here in the South, where I come from, that food is as unique and gasp worthy, as the geographic and cultural confines of the region.

My homestate, Kerala, though small on the map, is Gargantuan of Great Might on the food scene. With all sorts of plated deliciousness racked to it's credit, it is my love affair with the stylized beef fry that deserves steep mention. This obsession, started when I was maybe a teen or further, and first came into contact ordering from the local joint, only known for it's takeout, most particularly on this one item. 
Infamous fried beef. Glorious cubes of browned fabulousness, textured and seasoned right, mind bogglingly drool, and worthy of true gastric admiration.

So much so, that after leaving the familiar surrounds, Deep Dark Fry had me dizzy, jilted beyond appeasement, I could never get over the memory of my perfect Mahogany Charm. For years, I came upon stuff of commendable attitude, though having never reached the heights of those very first love notes. I knew destined day would come where my tremendous want would drive me to encounter my many shades of brown once more. Thus, reaching the best of perfect spice crescendo, I wish to share this unparalleled Kerala beauty right here with you.

With it, I pass along this point worth noting, this is no namby pamby preparation. A hero of the Kerala meat scene, beef fry is strongly trestled and framed in mighteous masala flavor. Seeing as I've gone through masala time and again, making this sole recipe alone will provide ample masala review and rightful enlightenment of the when, where and how much.

With my spice pantry raided, and almost every container sharing from it's fair yield, it is by the most part, a conglomerate effort of all that is outstanding, with ingredients hitting some intensely strong chords. Whole spices get crushed to fragrance bearing fragments, bringing in the first wave of familiar aromatic heat.

Thereafter, sliced onions, added once in the beginning, second time browned more and towards the end, give to it sweet balance. Ginger, garlic plus green chillies infuse and hinge their very substance onto meat cubes. A mob pack of spice powders punch with depthful warmth, merrily going about blending motley flavor factors and powerfully influencing a unison, overall preparation. Tempered ingredients hold topspot texture and crunch, taking beef fry to it's full- rounded, fantastic finale. 

After which, I feel confident that this meal, on it's own will blow the confines of your very mind, as it always does mine, transcending you to an untouched meat lover's paradise. With mouthful upon mouthful, spoon after spoon, singing praises you definitely will, to this utterly A-class plate of Kerala beef. 

Oh, and don't blame yourself, when visiting this page, on numerous accounts. That's a given. I do suggest you print and frame. Keeper he is, right up there next to the husband/wife and yes, even the kids.

  • 1 medium stick cinnamon
  • 3 cloves
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • ½ tsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1½" piece ginger
  • 5 pods garlic
  • 3 serrano peppers (green chillies)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 medium onions, sliced thin
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3-4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • ¼ c coconut slivers, cut from fresh or frozen
  • 2 lbs. stew beef chunks, cut it into 1" cubes, trimmed of fat
  • 1½ tsp salt or flavor according to taste
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 sprigs curry leaves
  • ½ tsp garam masala(optional)
  • 1- tsp coconut oil(optional)
There is a reason for every single spice, seasoning and ingredient, here. Believe me, you will experience it as a unison scream as well as in individual discrete whispers. 

  • Using a mortar/pestle or even a mini chopper, coarsely pound spices from cinnamon to black peppercorns.
  • In a mini chopper or food processor, grind to paste ginger, garlic and serranos.
  • In a large deep and heavy bottomed skillet, heat 2 tbsp of the oil over medium flame, add in half the  sliced onions, and coarsely ground spices. Saute until onions are translucent and cooked through.
  • Add ginger/garlic/serrano paste and tomatoes. Stir for half a minute, then add cayenne, coriander, cumin and turmeric. 
  • Stir in coconut slivers.
  • With flame raised to high, Add beef pieces and sear on all sides, keeping pieces from burning- should take about 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer in it's own rendered juices while covered. 
  • Add salt, and stir on occasion, removing lid, and cook until done and pieces forktender (about 30- 40 minutes, depending on the quality of meat). The moisture should be all but gone.
  • In a separate skillet, heat remaining oil, spoon in mustard seeds, allow to temper and pop. 
  • Sprinkle in curry leaves.
  • Add remaining onions. Fry until dark brown.
  • Add the fried elements to the meat mixture, along with garam masala and saute the whole thing over medium high flame, until meat is devoid of all moisture, dried and reaches a deep brown color, about 10 minutes.
  • Top with coconut oil. Stir and take off heat.
Notes: The measurements above are just guidelines to skim you through a first-time adventure, and not marked in stone. If you're ok with upping the flavor/spice ante, you should (especially in regards to the onions, ginger/ garlic and the powders, cayenne and coriander). Beef fry for me means 3-4 onions, almost a third's addition of ginger/ garlic, more cayenne,  and furthering in a few tablespoons worth of coriander. Any which way, and using these elements, it all leads to the same bridge. Make sure it's on par with your comfort level, and those you cook for.

4/9/2014**Update and notes** Gosh! There were some direction omissions/mistakes here(results of typing faster than mind's ability to process) that've been brought to my attention by some very good friends. They've been addressed and cleaned up (pretty much). Though, I do a number of rechecks and drafts, there are the times my eyes overlook bumps and wrinkles, thus resulting in edit fails. So, then if you notice anything that seems amiss, do holler me out in the comments. Thank you.
This could very well be served as a side, maybe to appam, or possibly crusted bread. Did anyone say a plate of steaming hot rice? Oh goodcurry, endless decisions!

With the spices acting as a natural preserve, meat keeps for a good week, getting better with each passing day. Really fortunate you'll be, if it goes beyond day two.

**Update 5/12/2014**
I am delivering the beef fry on over to my friend, Rafeeda who blogs at The Big Sweet Tooth, and is hosting the event, South Indian Cooking, for the 3/14-5/15 segment. Do linger while you're there, and pay some of her rank recipes a visit- she has numerous utterly astounding edibles waiting for the try. To you Ms. Rafeeda, thanks for arranging this show, because we all know how mindblowingly awesome South Indian food truly is.

In wake of all the Election buzz and clamor, here, and regardless of who takes the seat, our visions need to gear to a no fail, all win mode. I know my faith lays solely on God who is greater than any power, any government, any political personality. Christ is King. His government will carry on, forever resting on His unswerving shoulders. He, alone, is our destiny and through Him we possess eternal life. There is nothing greater or more deserving of hope and trust than this very truth. 

"Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him." Daniel 2:20-22 (ESV)


  1. Replies
    1. I know, Julie, ente all time favorite:)) Thanks so much!

  2. goodness... that beef has let out a whole ocean in my mouth... hmm...

    1. Thanks Rafeeda. That happens here quite often, the sign to make another batch :)

    2. I was just seeing this post to do my event round up and I am so overwhelmed by your comments dear... hugs... xoxo... u r so nice... :)


Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!