I have been hearing so much about slow cooked roasts and casseroles and have been pretty intrigued by it. I mean I'm not one for slow activities which involve a lot of patience and concentration, but I just had to try it out once, after all the ooh's and aah's about how great they tasted and how tender the meat was. Whenever I cook something with beef or pork, I end up using the good ol pressure cooker and although it reduces the cooking time drastically and does the job of cooking the meat, I somehow feel all the curries I make in the pressure cooker tastes the same, no matter what different combinations of masala I use.
So the other day when I picked up some stewing beef, I decided to go ahead and try this whole slow cooking method, not in the oven, but on the hob top..just to see if it was fabulously different and worth wasting all that energy (literally too). I don't have a slow cooker/ crock pot and so I could only experiment with slow cooking using a heavy bottomed cooking pot. The procedure took almost 2 hours and I was thoroughly pleased with the outcome. Unlike a slow cooker, I couldn't just leave it on to do the job, but had to keep checking it on and off- liquid levels, stir to prevent scorching and so on.
This appam mix for example, its a brand called Double Horse, and it works wonders. Just mix the powder with with water, coconut milk or milk or a mix of all of these and keep it aside for an hour or so in a warm place and you have nice soft appams ready in no time. I have a flat glass top hob and so cant use the traditional appam chatti, so I make do with the frying pan and dish out the flat appams (I cant for the love of me remember what its called). Its always worked for me and I don't understand why you would waste time and energy making your own batter when the ready made ones work just well. Its either that or its because Ro and I cant really make out the difference between appams made using home made batter and the store bought one. We savour it whatsoever. Same with dosa batter and vada mixes. They work like a charm for us :)
Anyhoo, I lovingly served it for dinner, quite looking forward to the fact that Ro would most certainly notice the difference and sing praises only to be slightly let down. He didn't utter a word even after a few mouthfuls and I finally lost it and asked how the stew was. 'It nice, its the same stew you always make right?' was his reply. I then had to explain to him that it is a slow cooked stew..2 hours I spent slaving over it and it HAS to taste different from the usual. He still didn't get it. His reply was 'you just wasted 2 hours of electricity on a stew that would have taken just 15 minutes to prepare in a pressure cooker???? You talk about energy conservation all the time, what about this then??' I just rolled my eyes and let it pass. I still believe the stew did taste fabulously different from my usual pressure cooker stews. Please, if anyone tries it out, do let me know what you think, so I don't feel horrible about all that energy I could have conserved.
Alos, somewhere along the way my blog turned 3, well on may 29th to be precise, and since I don't keep track of stuff like this, it wasn't a big deal. It was only recently when someone asked me how old my blog was, that I realized I should go and check and yes, it had turned 3 :) So I'm gonna consider my first ever slow cooked recipe as a milestone achievement and make a big deal out of it on this 3rd anniv. Hope you enjoy the stew.
Recipe modified from here
Stewing beef- 500 gms, cut into bite size cubes
Potatoes- 2, cut into medium sized cubes.
Shallots- 250 gms
Ginger- 3 inch piece, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic- 10 cloves, peeled
Green chillies- 2
Tomato- 1, chopped
Curry leaves- 2 sprigs
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder- 1/2 tbsp
Kashmiri chilli powder- 1/2 tbsp
Coriander powder- 1 1/2 tbsp
Pepper powder- 1 1/2 tsp
Garam masala- 2 tsp
Thick coconut milk- 1/2 cup
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Oil- 2 tbsp + enough to temper
Salt- to taste
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pot and throw in the crushed mix.
Saute on medium heat till they turn a light brown in colour. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Add the chopped tomatoes and saute for a couple more minutes, till they turn mushy and the oil starts to separate.
In goes all the masala powders- turmeric, chilly powders, coriander, pepper and garam masala.
Saute till the raw smell disappears and the oil becomes visible.
Add the beef along with the potato, half of the curry leaves and enough salt. Mix it all in, making sure the masala coats the beef and potato well.
Add about 1 cup water, give a final stir and close with a lid.
Cook for about 1.30 to 2 hours on low-medium heat, stirring in between (carefully, as you don't want to mash the potatoes), checking liquid levels and adding water as and when required. However, don't over do it.
Once the meat is completely cooked add the coconut milk and check for salt.
Keep on medium flame for about 10 more minutes and take the stew off the flame.
Heat about 2 tsp of oil in a kadai and splutter mustard seeds and remaining curry leaves.
Pour this over the cooked stew and give a final stir.
Serve with chapathi's, appam, bread or even idiappam.
Notes: You can use any cut of meat. The one advantage of slow cooking is that it makes the meat quite tender whatsoever.
if you cant find shallots, 2 medium sized onions would do.
You can omit the coconut milk and just do with water. The coconut milk however gives it a very distinct taste.
The tadka can be done in the beginning as well, before you add the crushed mix.
Try this with mutton or lamb and it would be just as good.
the curry is slightly on the spicier side, so avoid the chilly powder if you are not up to it.