The Christmas winds have finally arrived, bringing cooler weather…though cool is a relative term in the Caribbean. I jump at any excuse to make a hearty, warming beef stew and thought I’d try my hand at a Trinidad-style beef curry (or curry beef as they sometimes say in Trinidad). Devica, being my resident expert on Trini cooking but also being Hindu, didn’t have any hints to offer this time. So basically I took her method of making chicken curry and adapted it to the beef bottom roast I had in the freezer.
While I was frying the curry powder Devica said it smelled like her curry, definitely a good sign. My beef curry turned out very well if I do say so myself, though it wasn’t quite hot enough for Bones. No worries, that’s why God invented hot pepper sauce. I served my beef curry with a basmati and wild rice mix (that’s all I had in the cupboard), banana and yogurt raita, green salad and Devica’s sada roti.
Devica even took a portion home with her. So she must have thought it looked good enough to serve her boyfriend, if not quite good enough to make her forsake her religion. That’s endorsement enough for me.
I used bottom round but you can use whatever stewing beef is available at your market. If you’ve just made your green seasoning, add some water to the blender to get every last drop of seasoning and use that as your second addition of water. If you don’t have any green seasoning, you can substitute a mixture of fresh cilantro, celery, parsely and a hot pepper or two. Mince everything, mix it together, add a little water and use to marinate the beef. Serve with rice and roti.
4 pounds of stewing beef, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1/3 cup of green seasoning
a sprinkle of ground cinnamon
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and grated or finely minced
1/4 cup cooking oil for frying
more hot peppers if desired
1/2 cup good quality curry powder (a West Indian curry powder if you can find it)
1 1/2 cups of water
1 stick of cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
salt to taste
3 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1 pound of pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes (optional)
one can of chickpeas, drained
Put the beef in a bowl and add the green seasoning, half the onion and a sprinkle of ground cinnamon. Mix it all up together, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight.
Heat a heavy pot over high heat, add a little cooking oil and let it get hot. Add the rest of the onion and garlic (and another hot pepper or two if you dare) and cook until they just start to brown. Add the curry powder, stir it into the oil and let it cook for another minute or two. This will release the oils from the curry powder and deepen its flavor. Add the water and cinnamon stick and cook the mixture over high heat until it’s very thick and a wooden spoon will leave a trail when you drag it across the pot. This will usually take a while, about 20 minutes or so.
Add the beef and any juices that have accumulated in the bowl, along with the salt. Bring the beef to a slow boil, then turn the heat to very low and let it simmer slowly until the beef is tender, about 2 hours.
Add the potato, pumpkin or squash, and chickpeas and cook for 5 minutes. Add some more water (including that which you’ve used to “clean” the blender) to come almost to the top of the chicken mixture. Cover and cook until the potato and pumpkin are cooked through, about 20-30 minutes.
As with most stews, this is even better the next day. Serves 8 -10.