Tag Archives: indian food

Fanny and Brenda’s quick Beef Curry

fanny and brendas quick beef curry

Now I know “we don’t do slumming it” and are “the most gorgeous party ladies”. But even belles of the ball like us need to have some slightly simpler, set pieces which can be put together simply. Brenda likes simple things, which explains a lot really.

Again, it may surprise you to learn that we do have occasional days off from our whirl of social engagements although most of the time I am trying to find ways of having Brenda permanently sectioned. To date I have failed, largely because Brenda invites herself on my jaunts as she did recently when there was fun to be had at Mrs Davida Clam’s, – Brighton’s ghastliest landlady (who some of you may remember from our recent visit there making seaside-appropriate fish pie), who on learning of Brenda’s self-invitation then had to cancel her “ladies macramé gathering” at her high class brothel, otherwise more widely understood to be a boutique premium AirBnB-listed luxury apartment. Brenda’s face simply wouldn’t have been acceptable at Mrs Clam’s that night, and I completely agree.

Meanwhile, with my evening at the macramé now ruined, all I can think about is a taste-bud twanging curry even though I’ll be far too resentful to stand there peeling and micro-dicing fresh ginger and roasting off and grinding individual spices to create  a home-made garam masala. And yet we’ll still want something which will be quick to prepare and cook which will be a step up from virtually all other “Curry in XYZ minutes” recipes you may have seen elsewhere. Anyway this is a recipe that is great for a cold spring night after work.

The secret is using a tenderer cut of beef which won’t need a lot of cooking, although you can use cheaper cuts if you’re prepared to simmer it longer – which achieves at least as good results but obviously nibbles away the time-saving. Here’s what you need and how to make it


600g top rump – cut to 1” cubes. ‘Ready cubed’ saves time, although I cut up a joint.
2 medium onions – sliced or cut medium
4 cloves garlic – bashed, peeled and chopped medium. You could also use 4 tsp garlic puree but fresh is better and only takes 1 min
3 good tbsp ghee
1 heaped tsp ground cumin
1 heaped tsp ground coriander
1 heaped tsp ground turmeric
1 heaped tsp ground black pepper
1 heaped tsp hot chilli powder
1 level tsp ground ginger
5 cloves
3 cardamom pods – lightly bashed
1 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 regular can chopped tomatoes
3 or 4 dstspn  natural yoghurt
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
chopped fresh coriander to serve


Heat a medium size deep frying pan which has a lid – or a medium casserole dish, add the ghee and once melted, fry off the beef cubes. Don’t worry about doing them in batches, just try to get some light browning – about 7 mins. Remove the cubes and set aside for now.

Into the same pan, but with the heat turn down to medium low add in the onions and garlic. Fry fairly gently for a good ten, but nearer 15 mins is better – so that you end up with lovely intense golden brown onions. At the point where the onions are nearly done, add in all your spices, turn the heat back up to medium high, to continue cooking out the onion/garlic/spice mix, about a further min or so.

Now add the can of tomatoes plus a bit of water if you don’t like your curries too rib-sticking – although careful with this as some yoghurt is about to get mixed in, plus it will in any case thicken naturally as the sauce cooks down.

When the mixture comes up to the boil, add the yoghurt and vinegar, test for seasoning and add salt as required, turn the heat to low and simmer for half an hour with the lid on.

Once the curry is tucked away, wash and set going your rice and chop up the coriander. Serve a bed of lightly buttered fluffy rice with good dollop of curry and a handful of the chopped coriander. Apart from perhaps a blob of your fave chutney or pickle and maybe a crisply fried poppadom, this really is a complete meal, easy to scale up for larger gatherings and will stand being made ready in advance to allow you to shine at your function – rather than developing one toiling in the kitchen while others enjoy.

Crispy Vegetable Fritters (good as Dhal accompaniment)

Pretty much any vegetables can be used for these – aubergine, courgettes, peppers, cauliflower, onion, mushroom etc. We used aubergines and zucchini and they were really quite delicious. They are good accompanied by the dhal.

pakora- delicious vegetable fritters recipe

The idea is to get everything into very thin rounds or sticks, no more than 2-3 mm (cauli into 1.5cm florets)

For the batter

4 tbsn gram flour (chick pea flour)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp kholanji (nigella seeds/black onion seeds)
1tsp baking powder
75-100 ml water

pakora- delicious vegetable fritters recipe
Mix all batter ingredients together till smooth – how much water you use will determine the final consistency with a larger volume producing a thinner version and vice versa. How thin the batter is will determine how easily it slides off your veg pieces – again, a thinner one will stick less so the batter will be lighter.

pakora- delicious vegetable fritters recipe
Heat some vegetable oil in a wok/pan/karai and heat till a drop of the batter sizzles when dripped in. Now start coating your veg and adding to the pan, being careful to turn and do the other side till a pale golden brown and not to overcrowd the pan – it’s far better to do several batches rather then attempting it in one which will likely result in soggy veg/batter! And we don’t want that, do we?
pakora- delicious vegetable fritters recipe
You can season with some salt if you like – I also sprinkled a few dried red chili flakes and a pinch of garam masala.

Frugal tastiness with Dhal

This is a wonderfully tasty dish that is good on a winter’s day or indeed equally on a hot summer’s day. On summer days Fanny wears rather less than she should given her advanced age and I won’t disturb you with the nightmare images she inspires in this state. Suffice to say I am on the tablets.
lentil dhal - absolutely delicious vegetarian recipe
However don’t let me put you off this delicious dish, it really is very moreish and is good eaten with vegetable fritters.


200g red lentils
1 litre water
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 green chillies
1 tbsp coriander leaves, chopped
3 tbsp ghee
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 onion, finely sliced
lentil dhal - absolutely delicious vegetarian recipe

Bring the lentils to the boil in the litre of water in a large saucepan and remove any scum

Add the turmeric, cumin and tomatoes and mix in

Lower the heat and simmer for about 40 mins until tender. Add the salt, chillies and coriander and mix in. Remove from the heat.
lentil dhal - absolutely delicious vegetarian recipe

Meanwhile in a medium size frying pan, heat the ghee and fry the onion and garlic until golden brown – pour this over the lentils and serve.

lentil dhal - absolutely delicious vegetarian recipe