SOUTHERN INDIAN BRISKET CURRY

This is not a hot curry, but rather a combination of warm spices, such as; cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, coriander, cumin. And then there’s the option to add as little or as much chilli as you can handle. This is a recipe I’ve made many times using gravy beef, oyster blade or chuck steak with a cooking time of about an hour or two, until the meat is tender. However, adapting the recipe to a long slow cook with a piece of deckle-end brisket resulted in a richer and melded spice flavour, with melt-in-the-mouth texture.  Preparing the day before is always an added bonus to deepen the flavour in your curry. 

serves 8

½ cup vegetable oil

1.8kg – 2kg brisket, deckle end 

3 brown onions, finely chopped

10 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 x 10cm pieces of ginger, finely grated, reserving any juice

1 long red chilli, finely chopped

2 teaspoons ground cardamom

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

2 teaspoons ground cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons ground coriander

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

2 teaspoons chilli powder (optional)

¼ bunch coriander

800ml coconut milk

500g butternut, or Jap pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes

small head (300g) cauliflower,  cut into florets

large handful torn silver beet leaves, or baby spinach leaves

Remove meat from refrigerator 20-30 minutes before cooking. Preheat oven to 140°C.

Use a large cast iron pot or deep-sided heavy based oven dish, suitable for stovetop to oven use and large enough to hold brisket. Heat oil over a medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook for about 3 minutes each side, or until golden brown.  Remove meat and set aside.  Add the onion to pot and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the garlic, ginger and chilli.  Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is lightly golden, softened and translucent.  Add all the spices and cook for about one minute, stirring until aromatic.  Stir in the coconut milk and return meat to the pot. Add some water if necessary to make sure the meat is just covered in liquid.  Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer.  Cover surface with a layer of baking paper, cover pan with a tight fitting lid, or seal well with a layer of aluminium foil. 

Transfer pot or dish to the oven.  Cook for 5 hours, carefully turning meat over after 3 hours. Add extra water if necessary, if liquid has evaporated during cooking, then sealing pot again.  At the end of cooking the meat should be meltingly tender and pull apart easily with a fork. 

Transfer meat from the pan to a wide dish.  When cool enough to handle, remove the layer of fat and discard.  Shred the meat or cut into bite-size  pieces.

Meanwhile, using a ladle remove the layer of fat from the surface of the sauce.  Return meat to the sauce.   At this stage, either cool and refrigerate the curry overnight or to serve on same day, continue the cooking process with vegetables.  

If refrigerating overnight, any remaining fat will solidify and is easily removed the following day.   When ready to serve, bring curry to a simmer.  Season the sauce with salt, to taste.  Add the pumpkin and cook for 10 minutes, then add the cauliflower and cook for another 10 minutes until vegetables are tender.  The sauce should be thickened, but if sauce is still too liquid continue cooking to evaporate until thickened to your liking.  Stir in the leaves and cook until wilted. Note: the sauce in photo was not reduced). 

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with rice, or roti bread.

Fiona Hammond © July 2019  

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Mark Brancatisano