25 October 2014

IHCC Potluck - Indian Beef with Peas

Sometimes the universe offers up a grand set of coincidences. Do you believe that?  I do, and here's a little coincidence that brought together three of my favorite cooks and cook book authors.

This humble Indian dish doesn't look like much, but boy, what a nice spicy kick it has! In that sauce that's wrapped around the minced beef and vegetables, there lurks ginger, garam masala, coriander, cumin, garlic, and lime flavours! Plop this warm slurry atop a mound of steamed rice, add a nice dollop of mango chutney on the side and you will have a bowl of Indian comfort food that will make the chilliest, most rainy and raw fall evening retreat to the corners of your mind!

I found this recipe in Diana Henry's cookbook called Plenty. She comments that her recipe is an adaptation of a Madhur Jaffrey recipe from her cookbook called Indian Cookery. Madhur called her recipe Kheema Matar. Diana calls her recipe Indian Beef with Peas. As I read Diana's recipe, it stirred memories of another recipe in a Nina Simonds cookbook called Asian Noodles. Nina calls her recipe Chinese Curry Noodles, but she states clearly that rice can be used in lieu of noodles. Simonds's recipe swaps out the tomato paste and brings in soy sauce. These recipes have the same feel to them and I chuckled over the coincidence, as I went about putting together the Diana Henry dish together for this week's I Heart Cooking Potluck entry.

How strange that Diana and Madhur have joined forces to give me a super supper ... I'll take it, though! I loved it with simple rice and that sweet tangy hit of the mango chutney that I plopped on the side of the bowl. Totally tasty!

My only question about this recipe was ... how can beef be a prominent ingredient in an Indian dish? I thought the cow was a sacred animal in India? It must have its roots in the colonial influences of the British. That's the only thing I can think of on this one. Doing a bit of research, I found that traditional Kheema Matar is made with ground lamb. Somewhere in the move from India to the UK, the beef made the swap. Mystery solved ...

Here's the recipe I followed ... and the bowl of comfort food as it came straight from the stove ...

Indian Beef with Peas
 a Diana Henry recipe from Plenty

2 tbsp. peanut oil
1 ½ lb. ground beef (leaner mince)
2 onions, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger root, peeled and grated
2 green, hot chilis, seeded and de-veined, finely chopped
1 tsp. ground coriander
2 tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 ½ c. beef stock
1 heaping tbsp. tomato paste
A generous pinch dark brown sugar
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 ½ c. frozen peas
6 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. garam masala

Steamed rice for serving with the beef
A fruity, tart chutney for a side condiment ( mango is excellent!)

Making the Dish:

  1. Heat the oil in a deep fry pan that has a cover. Add the beef and break it into bite-sized chunks. Brown it over medium-high heat until it is crisped and brown.
  2. Spoon the beef into a bowl and set aside. Add the chopped onion and sweat it until it is translucent.
  3. Add the garlic, ginger, chiles, coriander, cumin, and cayenne and stir together. Continue cooking for 1 minute.
  4. Return the beef and its juice to the pan. Add ⅔ of the prepared beef broth and the tomato paste. Stir together to break up the paste and distribute the beef through the vegetable and spice slurry.
  5. Bring the sauce to a boil, then lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once in a while so things don’t stick.
  6. Prepare the rice while the beef is simmering. After 30 minutes, add the peas and remaining beef broth and cook for 10 minutes more.
  7. Just before serving, stir in the lime juice, garam masala, and chopped cilantro.
  8. Mound the steamed rice in a bowl, spoon over some beef and peas, and have a generous dollop of cold chutney on the side.

This post is added as a link at the I Heart Cooking Club's Potluck ... check out the rest of the dishes! You're welcome to join us anywhere along our journey, as we explore Diana Henry's take on food and revisit the other cooks and chefs that we've honored over the past few years! The more the merrier!


  1. That looks like a perfect dish for a fall evening! I have both Madhur's and Diana's books so will have to bookmark this recipe in one or the other (or both!)

  2. Susan, I love Indian cooking and this beef looks delicious!!

  3. Oh wow! That does look good! And how can I miss this recipe from the book, I thought I practically read the whole book! LOL!
    I love Madhur's recipes too, and this is a total winner to me! Looks so delicious!

  4. So delicious and I love Madhur Jaffrey too. One of my favourite Indian cooks.

  5. I love that you found a dish in which both Madhur Jaffrey and Diana Henry have colluded, and this sounds utterly delicious. This is a very nostalgic dish for me. My mother and grandparents were all born in India, and came to New Zealand when my mother was a teenager. As such, a "curry" of some sort showed up on our table at least once a week, and one such of this made a regular appearance. Back then it was usually beef rather than lamb, I think for predominantly economical reasons. Great choice, Susan, especially with the mango chutney.

  6. I also love that you chose a dish that was inspired by MJ then reworked by DH. How fitting to share during potluck week! When I think of comfort food I think of warming spices such as those used in this dish. The aroma and the flavor from the spices is so inviting and soothing. I know I would be a fan of this dish, whether beef or lamb were used.

  7. I love kheema mattar!

    The thing about Indian restaurants in the UK, is that the chefs were commonly Muslims from Sylhet in Bangladesh, so they don't have the prohibition on beef. Lots of dishes that would have been made with mutton (either sheep or goat) in India were made from the cheaper beef in the UK. It also means that you don't get many pork dishes, even where that would have been traditional (like Goan vindaloo).

  8. Madhur Jaffrey and Diana Henry are a great combination for a dish. ;-) I love curries and this looks like a very satisfying dinner--great comfort food!


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