Sri lanka boasts a cuisine that has been influenced by the Indians, Malays, Portuguese, dutch and British. Its curries are mostly coconut based, and strong with spices. Many, such as this one, are cooked for hours, until the thick, flavoursome sauce clings to the by-now tender main ingredient.
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
3 tablespoons oil
1 kg (2 lb 4 oz), diced beef chuck
2, finely diced onions
4 cloves, crushed garlic
3 teaspoons finely grated ginger
1 seeded, finely chopped red chilli
8 curry leaves
1 stem, white part only, lemon grass finely chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) coconut milk
250 ml (9 fl oz/1 cup) beef stock
1. Dry-fry the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and black peppercorns in a frying pan over medium- high heat for 2- 3 minutes, or until fragrant. Allow to cool. Using a mortar with a pestle, or a spice grinder, crush or grind to a powder.
2. In a heavy-based saucepan, heat the oil over high heat, brown the beef in batches, and set aside. Reduce heat to medium, add the onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, curry leaves, and lemon grass, and cook for 5- 6 minutes, or until softened. Add the ground spices and cook for a further 3 minutes.
3. Put the beef back into the pan, and stir well to coat in the spices. Add the lemon juice, coconut milk and beef stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 2 1/2 hours, or until the beef is very tender and the sauce is reduced. While cooking, skim any oil that comes to the surface and discard.