Bengali Beef

Bengali Beef

Bengali Beef

Some dishes can have you slavering like a hungry wolf stood over the still warm carcass of a freshly killed deer at the merest thought of them, and then howling at the moon in frustration, as you impatiently wait for them to finish cooking.

This is such a dish.

I first came across it in curry guru Pat Chapman’s masterpiece The New Curry Bible“.

It became an instant favourite, and over the last decade it has made regular appearances at our table.

It’s utterly luscious – stewing / braising steak slowly cooked in a hot, spicy, sweet tomato based sauce until it is fall apart tender.

The only concessions I’ve made in Paleoizing it was to swap out the jaggery  / brown sugar with coconut sugar, and replacing the potato in Pat’s version with sweet potato. On this occasion, however, I was catering for people who aren’t the greatest fans on earth of the humble sweet potato, so I left it out (see notes for more).

I’m having the leftovers for lunch today. The very fact that there even was any leftovers at all is a minor miracle in itself. It took all the willpower I possess to stop myself finishing the entire pot off last night.

It really is that good.

When I even begin to think about how much better it will taste after a night in the fridge, I want to jump up and down and clap my hands like an excited 2 year old who’s just been told that he’s off to the zoo, and then rounding the afternoon off with a trip to the circus, with a pit stop at his favourite ice-cream parlour on the way home.

12 o’clock can’t come soon enough…

Bengali Beef


  • 1.5kg stewing / braising steak, cut into 1½ inch cubes
  • 2 × 500g tetra-packs of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • a 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp of curry powder – see notes
  • salt & black pepper to taste
  • 3 tsp dried fenugreek leaves
  • 3 tsp dried coriander leaves
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • coconut oil
  • Optional – 2 medium sweet potatoes – see notes


  • Place the meat in a large saucepan. Cover with cold water. Bring up to a boil, and then drop to a low simmer. Blanch the meat for 5 minutes, skimming off all the impurities that rise to the surface. Drain the meat, and rinse it thoroughly with hot water. Set aside.
  • Place the onion, garlic, and ginger in a blender, and process until you have a smooth paste. Set aside.
  • Place the curry powder, salt & black pepper to taste, dried fenugreek leaves, and dried coriander leaves in a small bowl. Add just enough water to produce a thin paste. Stir well, and set aside.
  • Heat 4 tbsp of coconut oil in a large, lidded non-stick pan over medium heat. Stir fry the vegetable paste for 5 minutes.
  • Add the spice and water mixture to the pan. Continue to stir fry for a further 3 minutes.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, and stir well. Add the coconut sugar, and stir again. Bring the sauce up to a low simmer, cover the pan, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the meat to the pan. Stir well, and return to a low simmer. Simmer until the meat is tender – keep a close eye on things after the 1½ hour mark, although it could be the case that it takes up to 2 – 2½ hours for the meat to cook.
  • Remove the pan from the heat, and allow to cool slightly. Serve the curry, together with a side of cauliflower rice.


The curry powder (or masala, to give it its proper name) is the thing that will decide the heat and taste of your sauce. If I were you, I’d head off to your friendly neighbourhood Indian or Pakistani grocer / supermarket, and get some of the Good Stuff they’ll no doubt have.

Here, because we were entertaining a guest with a quite low tolerance for “heat”, I omitted any extra chilli, giving a very mild sauce. If you want to give the sauce a little more “oomph“, feel free to add a suitable number of roughly chopped fresh chillies to the vegetable paste before you blend it, or add dried chilli powder to taste to the water and spice mixture.

If you want to add the sweet potatoes as mentioned above, then add 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped towards the end of cooking.


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