Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Mauritian beef curry and faratas

One last recipe with curry leaves for now and then I'll lay off, OK? I've managed to dry the rest of them by the simple expedient (recommended in a YouTube video on the subject) of leaving them spread on a plate in the refrigerator for a week. They're far less aromatic, but they do seem to have retained some flavor. I'll store the dried leaves for a few weeks before testing them out.

This recipe is from Mauritius which should make for a change of pace. I found it at the Recipes from Mauritius website by Madeleine Philippe.

Mauritian beef curry

1 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 Tablespoon crushed garlic
1/2 Tablespoon crushed ginger
1/2 Tablespoon chopped thyme leaves
1 sprig curry leaves
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 Tablespoons curry powder (hot or mild depending on your preference)
8 ounces canned finely crushed tomatoes
1 pound beef, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 cup or so hot water
2 Tablespoons coarsely chopped cilantro

1. Heat oil in a deep medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic, ginger, thyme, curry leaves and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until onion becomes translucent.

2. Add tomatoes and half the cilantro. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until tomato looks and smells cooked. Add a little hot water if the tomatoes start to stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. Add curry powder. Cook for five minutes more.

4. Add beef along with 1/2 to 1 cup of hot water depending on how thick you like your curries. Simmer until the beef if tender. How long this will take depends on the cut of beef you chose. I used the generic stew beef from Whole Foods so it took around an hour and a half. If the sauce is the thickness you want, cover the pot. If it's too thin, leave the cover off until it gets where you want it.

5. Garnish with cilantro and serve with rice or faratas.

Faratas are the Mauritian versian of parathas are they're pretty simple to make.

Start with a soft, but not sticky dough: about 1 cup flour to 1/2 cup water (plus half a teaspoon salt) although I had to add a good bit of extra flour to get the right texture. Knead it up well and then divide into three for traditional 12-14 inch faratas or four (70-some grams each) if you're cooking them in an 8" pan like I am. Melt a few Tablespoons of butter (or ghee if you've got it).

Roll them out thin and brush or drizzle with butter generously on the top side.

Fold in half and butter again.

Fold in thirds and butter again.

Roll it up and stand it up.

Squish it flat and roll it out again. You can still kind of see the spiral there in the middle.

Butter generously once again and lay butter-side-down in your hot pan. Cook for a minute or two until the bottom is getting golden brown and the layers are starting to puff up.

Butter the top and flip it over. Let it cook for another minute or two.

Take it out and let it cool just slightly before serving it with your curry. Got any butter left? You know what to do with it.

The curry, to start off is beef in tomato sauce. Nothing wrong with that. The flavors of the herbs and spices are subtle, but always there adding an aromatic layer above those two. I should have crushed the garlic and ginger to bring them out more. A bit more (or a bit fresher) curry powder would hurt either. You're not going to mistake this for an Italian dish, but the tomato does dominate. Not the best curry I've ever made, but not bad and an interesting departure from the usual cuisines. You know, this is just the sort of dish that gets better in the refrigerator; I should withhold judgment until I try the leftovers.

The faratas are crisp and flaky in the middle and a bit chewy at the edges. Not loaded with flavor, but nothing a little whole wheat wouldn't cure. A very nice accompaniment to the curry and hard at all hard to make.

I had no idea flaky dough was so easy. I may be ready to try making croissants now.

1 comment:

kat said...

I'm really interested to try the faratas