When it comes to cooking in our household, I have to admit that GB normally does the lions share. Baking, I love. I find it fun, relaxing and you get a wonderful sweet treat at the end – all winning in my eyes. But when it comes to the savoury stuff, I’m much more of a ‘bung it in the oven and go and sit down’ kinda gal. I find it tiresome to have to buy so many ingredients and I get ridiculously stressed when it comes to timings. To put it simply, I’m never going to be on Masterchef.
However lately I’ve really been enjoying getting in the kitchen, and not just to soothe my sweet tooth. I’ve realised that the key ingredient to enjoying cooking is time. When I have a free weekend and can potter about at a leisurely pace (all day if needs be), adopting the mantra ‘it will be ready when it’s ready’ it’s all much more pleasurable.
With this realisation in the bag, slow cooking dishes such as curries, stews and soups have all been attempted over the last few weeks and most with success. After watching Jamie’s Money Saving Meals a while back and with his words, that homemade curries were just as easy and much tastier than those from of a jar, ringing in my ears, I’d been keen to give the spicy dish a try. What stopped me however was finding a curry recipe that didn’t include multiple unknown ingredients that couldn’t be bought in the humble supermarket. Finally after a Saturday afternoon spent wandering the organic food shops nearby and a little advice from the Thai restaurant across the road in order to find the elusive galangal root, we settled on the beef rendang for our first homemade curry attempt.
The Rendang curry is a South East Asian dish, and considered to be one of the most flavour-some curry dishes around. It’s a slow cooked dish so not one to be attempted when you get home from work starving (unless you have made the paste beforehand and have some leftover meat from a roast, in which case it would be super fast). It’s traditionally made with beef and needs to be left to cook for around four or five hours to ensure the meat is really soft and tender. However we used our left over paste a week or so later with chicken and that was just as good.
Here’s what you’ll need…
About 650g steak or beef chopped into cubes (had a Sunday roast the night before? You can use that up too)
1 tbsp of chopped fresh ginger
1 tbsp chopped galangal (don’t know what this is? No neither did we – it’s found in Thai food and is a root herb, looks similar to ginger. You may need to scout about to get it, some of the bigger Tesco’s have it but if not try your local organic veg shops)
1 tbsp chopped garlic
1 lemongrass stalk
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander powder (we just crushed some coriander seeds so that works too)
Fresh coriander leaves
6 red chillies
2 tbsp oil
1 cinnamon stick
6 cardamon pods
zest of a lime
juice of a lime
400ml coconut milk
lime wedges and coriander to garnish
Rice of your choice
200g wholemeal flour for the chapatis
1. Making the Paste
Finely chop your onion, ginger, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric and chillies and place in a blender or food processor with some of the coriander leaves until it resembles a smooth paste
2. Frying it off
Add a little oil to a wok and add in your paste (we used about half of our mixture and saved the rest for another day but if you are cooking for more than two maybe use it all). Fry it over a hot heat until it turns slightly darker. Add the cardamon pods (if you have them) and your cinnamon stick, cut in half and cook for another minute or so.
3. Adding the Meat
Add in your meat and coat with the paste, stirring all the time until browned. Pour in the coconut milk, lime juice and lime zest, and a little soy sauce, stir well and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
4. Cooking and stirring
Now you can pretty much leave it to its own devices. All recipes seem to say a different cooking time but how I understand it is that it depends on your meat. If you have pre-cooked or boiled your meat in stock beforehand then it won’t need as long but if you are cooking your beef from scratch in the curry it will need much longer. The average cooking time is about two hours, but we cooked ours for around four to get the meat really soft. Make sure and stir it every so often, as I accidentally left mine for a little too long at one point and it all got a little sticky (still tasted great though). The mix will go a really dark almost black colour – don’t be alarmed, I gather it is supposed to look this way.
5. Making the rice and chapatis
Around 40 mins before your curry is due to be ready start making your chapati mixture. We followed Jamie’s recipe but these really are super easy to make (I’ll never buy chapatis again). All you need is about 200g of wholemeal or strong bread flour and bind it together into a dough with a little water. Leave the dough to rest for 30 mins and then divide it into table tennis sized balls, rolling each one out into circles about 2 inches thick then toss them in a frying pan a couple of times until air bubbles rise and they go golden brown.
Cook your rice around 20 mins or so before your curry is due to be ready (the great thing about dishes like this are that they won’t be ruined if you leave them a little longer) and serve with a couple of slices of lime and a few sprigs of coriander.
And this was the finished result – delicious! It may seem a long time and a lot of effort for a simple curry but I promise you, it’s worth the wait. Jamie was right on this one, helluva lot tastier than any jar sauce I’ve had.
Have you ever made a homemade curry? Would love to hear your recipes.