British Beef Raj Curry

This British beef Raj curry combines all the elements of a classic beef curry—tender meat, garlic, onion, turmeric, garam masala, golden raisins (sultanas) and dried coconut—with the cooking technique borrowed from British stews. Imagine, all this in just an hour.

A black pot filled with chunks of beef Raj curry, topped with cilantro, nearby is roti Indian bread

British beef raj curry is similar to a traditional Indian curry in that it features meltingly tender beef and a rich curry sauce and layers of enticing flavors and aromas. However, the preparation is similar to an English stew as it tastes as if it’d been simmering all day when, in fact, it comes together in just over an hour. [Editor’s Note: A little history lesson for you.]–Angie Zoobkoff

HOW TO SERVE BRITISH RAJ BEEF CURRY

Although this basic beef curry is lovely when served atop rice or with naan or roti for dipping, it becomes spectacular with the simple addition of an extra topping or two. Here, a few suggestions:

  • Store-bought or homemade chutney, such as apple,  pear, or mango
  • Crushed peanuts or cashews
  • Plain yogurt, sour cream, or crème fraiche
  • Sliced banana
  • Grated coconut
  • Dried salted fish

British Beef Raj Curry

  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 2 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Rick Stein's India cookbook

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Ingredients

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 to 1 1/2 oz)
  • 1 1/2 pounds chuck steak, cut into 1 1/2-inch (4-cm) cubes
  • 2 medium onions, sliced into 1/4-inch (6-mm) thick rounds
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Kashmiri chile powder* (or substitute 3/4 teaspoon paprika plus 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala, plus more to taste
  • 2 1/2 cups store-bought or homemade beef stock
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut (optional)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (or substitute regular raisins)
  • Steamed basmati rice, naan, or roti, for serving

Directions

  • 1. In a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons butter. Add the beef in batches and cook, stirring as needed, until browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a plate, and repeat with the remaining meat.
  • 2. If the Dutch oven or saucepan appears dry, add 1 tablespoon butter. Toss in the onions and sauté over medium heat until they’re softened and golden brown, about 10 minutes.
  • 3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then return the beef to the Dutch oven or saucepan along with any juices that have collected on the plate. Stir in the chile powder, turmeric, salt, and 1 tablespoon garam masala, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Pour in the stock, followed by the coconut, if using, and raisins. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook over low heat until the beef is tender, 45 to 60 minutes.
  • 4. Taste the curry and adjust the seasoning, adding more garam masala to taste if desired. Serve immediately with rice, naan, or roti.

*WHAT IS KASHMIRI CHILE POWDER?

  • Kashmiri chile powder is an intensely red and medium hot chile powder commonly used in Indian cooking. You can find it at Indian markets and online. Beware, its vibrant coloring stains almost anything it comes in contact with.

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Recipe Testers Reviews

As part of a food studies course, I read extensively about the British "Raj" (rule) of India. The British did indeed adopt select aspects of the Indian cuisine, mostly by necessity, and with adjustments they transformed the recipes into small but tangible elements of home. When the expats returned to Britain they brought back these comforts and subsequently and simultaneously created a subgenre of both British and Indian cuisines. I felt as though I was testing a bit of history as I worked with this recipe. Like any good stew, the ingredients came together sequentially and without much fuss. How wide your pot is will determine how many batches you will need to brown the beef. It took 3 batches in a Dutch oven for me. I found I needed to add another tablespoon of butter to sauté the onions. I also substituted 1/3 teaspoon cayenne pepper and 2/3 teaspoon sweet paprika (I eyeballed it using a teaspoon) for the Kashmiri chile powder. I let the curry simmer for 45 minutes and was satisfied with the spicing so I didn't add any additional garam masala at the end. I presented the meal with garlic naan and basmati rice with green peas. We ate it just as it was, without any additional condiments, and it was bloody good. Enjoy!

This recipe makes one of the nicest curries I've had in quite a while. Since I had 8 for dinner I doubled the recipe. Kashmire chili powder isn’t available here so I used the substitution of smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. The aroma while this was cooking was mouthwatering. Just before serving, I added an additional tablespoon garam masala to brighten the taste. We served this with garlic naan bread, a cucumber salad, a dollop or two of crème fraîche and a nice pear chutney I'd made earlier in the year. Even the tasters with no tolerance for spice loved this. Doubling the recipe should have made 10 to 12 servings and given me some leftovers for lunches. No such luck as there was nothing left in the pot when dinner was done. I think if I were to make any changes, I might bump up the heat a little bit more with a little more paprika and cayenne pepper.

This beef curry was a pretty quick dish to pull together (less than 1/2 hour hands-on time) and that's one of the things I really appreciate about it. Curries can often be cumbersome and involved when cooking from scratch, and while many are worth the effort, I loved this dish for its relative simplicity which allowed it to fit well within my weeknight meal repertoire.

As written, the recipe performed well. I sliced my onions nice and thin on my Japanese Benriner so that when they caramelized and then braised they almost melted into the sauce. I found another teaspoon garam masala added at the end was perfect for my palate. As for the golden raisins, I can never find them and substituted regular raisins with no problem at all.

As with most curries, the condiments you serve along with really make the dish and that was the only place where I felt the recipe fell a bit short. The author seems to suggest that a few different condiments might work well, whereas I would not have merely recommended them, but made them an integral part of the dish. Eaten straight up over jasmine rice (which is how I served it), the curry was just okay, but with the hot mango chutney, sliced scallions. crushed peanuts, additional grated coconut, and plain Greek yogurt that I added at the table, the dish really turned into something special. Modify the condiments as you wish, but please do make sure you add something salty and crunchy, something sweet, something spicy, and something creamy to really make this beef curry dish sing.

This beef curry recipe really surprised me. While I felt this was going to be a decent recipe as the instructions were solid, I wasn't prepared to be blown away by the complex flavor and meltingly tender consistency. So I'll just come out and say that I love this recipe. Sweet, beefy, slightly spicy, with a hint of the exotic, this for me is what a good curry is all about. We enjoyed this dish taco style—we added healthy spoonfuls of the stew into homemade pita and topped it with a little yogurt and jared mango chutney. Oh yes, yes. I couldn't find Kashmiri chile powder at my grocery store so ended up just using the suggested substitute. I used Hungarian sweet paprika and a bit of cayenne, which gave the stew a bit of heat. I used Thompson seedless raisins that were big and plump. I didn't need to add anymore butter to the pan while browning the beef. So when it came time to add the onions I went with what was still left in the pan. This was perfect even for the large amount of sliced onions as they browned and softened beautifully. As for the simmering time, for me, the suggested time was way too short. I ended up adding 30 more minutes to give the beef a softer texture for a total of an hour and 15 minutes. I didn't add any extra garam masala at the end as I felt the seasoning and spice levels were kind of perfect for our tastes. If it ain’t broke, don't fix it.

Loved how this beef curry came together so quickly. I used the recommended substitution for Kashmiri chile powder and ended up adding about 1/2 tablespoon extra garam masala at the end. The unsweetened coconut added a unique texture to the curry but I don't think it added much to the overall flavor. I really liked the raisins and actually think sweetened coconut would have worked quite well. I served this with rice and enjoyed the leftovers the next day even more.

This beef curry recipe was a nice change of pace for our evening meal. The stew consistency and the beautiful Indian spices were outstanding! My guests each had a second helping. This is another quick and easy meal to make. The wonderful spices of the gram masala and chile powder gave the curry a very comforting flavor. I did not use dried coconut; however did add 1 cup of canned sweet coconut milk to the stock. I didn’t add any raisins. Turned out wonderful! I loved the textures of the beef and the caramelized onions as well as the fragrant sauce. I’ve included this recipe in my top ten favorites! I had some fresh turmeric that I grated with a microplane instead of using powdered turmeric. Served over white rice.

Comments

  1. I’d had my eye on this recipe for a while, and when my husband said we should make curry this weekend I figured it was the perfect opportunity to make it.

    Very surprised that something that was so quick and easy to put together had such deep complex flavours and amazingly tender beef. We halved the recipe, and easily got 2 (large) portions. The only thing we substituted was the kashmiri, although seemingly we added sweetened coconut!

    We opted to serve it with the Grilled Cilantro-Mint Naan that’s linked at the end of the recipe, and we used some of the leftover fillings from that mixed in with some plain yoghurt as a topping. Yummy! Definitely recommended, and will definitely be making it again.

  2. I have made this recipe at least three times and am planning on making it again early next week for my daughter’s in-laws. I would agree with another reviewer, that the add-ons definitely enhance this dish. Also this dish is even better the second day. I highly recommend it. Don’t be shy with the spices – I learned from personal experience – I now follow the suggested amount.

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