Madras Beef Curry-The Dinner Ladies: Sophie Gilliatt and Katherine Westwood


 Images and recipes from The Dinner Ladies by Sophie Gilliatt and Katherine Westwood (Murdoch Books) Photographs by Ben Dearnley RRP $39.99 available September 1st in all good bookstores and online.

Madras Beef Curry

Madras Beef Curry


Serves 4   Prep time 30 minutes   Cooking time at least 2 hours 15 minutes

A beefy crowd-pleaser, full of roast spices, the warmth of chilli, the sour-sweetness of tomato and vinegar and the smooth roundness of coconut milk. Cook the diced beef very gently in a fresh spice paste until it falls apart at the pressure of a fork and finish the curry with toasted coconut and fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves.


Make ahead: The whole recipe can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Garnish with freshly shaved coconut and fresh coriander leaves before serving.



1 tablespoon peanut oil or other mild-flavoured oil

2 brown onions, chopped

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 x 3 cm (11/4 inch) piece ginger, grated

11/2 teaspoons salt

1 handful curry leaves

1 heaped teaspoon ground turmeric

1 heaped teaspoon ground chilli

1 tablespoon ground coriander, toasted

11/2 teaspoons ground cumin, toasted

1 teaspoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)

400 g (14 oz) tinned chopped tomatoes

800 g (1 lb 12 oz) stewing beef, such as shin, chuck or blade, diced into 3 cm (11/4 inch) cubes

375 ml (13 fl oz/11/2 cups) coconut milk

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

2 tablespoons desiccated (shredded) coconut

90 g (31/4 oz/1 bunch) coriander (cilantro), leaves only, coarsely chopped, reserve a few whole leaves to garnish


To serve:

shaved fresh coconut or toasted desiccated (shredded) coconut

steamed basmati rice or Spiced Rice (right)

Cucumber-Yoghurt Sauce (see page 45)



Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-based saucepan and cook the onions, garlic and ginger with a fat pinch of the salt for 10–15 minutes till soft, stirring frequently.


Add the curry leaves, turmeric, chilli, ground coriander, cumin, tomato paste and chopped tomatoes to the onions, and combine. Season the beef with the remaining salt and stir through. Cover with the coconut milk and vinegar and cook till tender. The cooking time will depend very much on the beef – start checking to see if it is tender after 2 hours, but it may well take more than 3 hours, especially if you’re using shin.


To finish, stir through the desiccated coconut and chopped coriander.


Serve with shaved fresh coconut or toasted desiccated coconut, steamed basmati rice or spiced rice, and a handful of coriander leaves. A cooling cucumber-yoghurt sauce on the side is always welcome.


Spiced Rice

Bright yellow rice, flecked with whole spices and studded with peas, always looks celebratory and lifts a curry out of the everyday. It’s also about as quick to make as plain steamed rice and means you can get away without a vegetable dish (maybe just a raita for good luck). For four people, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a saucepan over medium–low heat and throw in 2 cloves, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 cinnamon stick and fry till the cumin seeds darken. Add 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, then 400 g (14 oz/2 cups) basmati rice, stirring to coat with the spices. Cover with 750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) of water, bring to the boil, then add 140 g (5 oz/1 cup) thawed frozen peas, cover the pan tightly with a lid and turn the heat down to the barest simmer for 20 minutes. Take the lid off, fluff up with a fork and remove the cinnamon stick and cloves (if they’re easy to find) before serving.

2 thoughts on “Madras Beef Curry-The Dinner Ladies: Sophie Gilliatt and Katherine Westwood

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