Beef Curry and Potatoes

Beef Curry with Potatoes.jpg

While it’s common for Burmese Buddhists to eat chicken and pork, many avoid Beef - Desmond’s mom, Eileen, has never once eaten it. Red meat in general can be hard to come by. In Myanmar, buffalo are needed to plow fields and few cattle farms exist in the country. When buying beef for this recipe, consider using grass-fed, which is more similar in taste and texture to the lean meat found in Myanmar. Or swap beef out entirely and make this recipe with lamb, which has an even deeper gamy quality that compliments the spices. Lemongrass - common in meat curries from the Kayin people of Myanmar - helps temper any gamy aromas.

Serves 4; 6 as part of a larger meal

2 ½ pounds beef stew meat

1 tablespoon paprika

½ tablespoon turmeric

2 teaspoons salt

⅓ cup canola oil

1-ounce piece ginger, peeled and thickly sliced lengthwise into slabs

2 stalks lemongrass (see page 228), cut into 2-inch pieces

2 ½ cups finely diced yellow onion

⅓ cup minced garlic

2 to 3 thinly sliced Thai chiles or 2 small dried chiles

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons fish sauce

4 cups water

1 tablespoon Madras curry powder

¾ teaspoon Garam Masala (page 216)

1 pound Yukon gold potatoes (about 4) cubed

Spoonful of plain whole-milk or Greek yogurt (optional)

1 cup cilantro sprigs, for garnish

1 lime or lemon, cut into wedges, for garnish

Trim away the sinew from the beef and cut the meat into ½ - to 1-inch cubes. Transfer to a bowl and use your hands to mix with the paprika, turmeric, and salt. Let the beef marinate at room temperature while you prepare the other ingredients, or refrigerate it overnight.

In a 6-quart pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the ginger and cook until the edges become lightly browned, 2 minutes. Stir in the lemongrass and cook until slightly softened, 2 minutes.

Add the onions, lower the heat to medium, and cook for 4 minutes, stirring often to keep the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the garlic, chiles, and bay leaves. Decrease the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until most of the water from the onions has been cooked out and and a glossy layer of oil has risen to the surface, about 10 minutes.