I can still remember the smell of my mother Marie grinding spices. This curry is easy to make – it just requires some time.
- 12–15 fresh or dried curry leaves
- 500g/1lb 2oz onions, roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
- 200g/7oz thick natural yoghurt
- 3 tbsp tomato purée
- 2 x 5cm/2in fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 4–6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 heaped tsp ground cumin
- 2 heaped tsp ground coriander
- 1 heaped tbsp chilli powder
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 500g/1lb 2oz beef rump steak, cut into 2.5cm/1in cubes, rinsed
- 4–5 butternut berries or pitted plums
- 400ml/16fl oz tin coconut milk
- 1 tsp garam masala (optional)
- 2–3 green finger chillies, split into four lengthways,
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the pilau
- 1 tsp rapeseed oil or ghee
- 3cm/1in cinnamon stick
- 2–3 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 2–3 cloves
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 500g/1lb 2oz basmati or long-grain rice
- 1 litre/1¾ pints boiling water
If using dried curry leaves, soak them in a little water for a few minutes, then drain.
Put the onions and oil in a food processor and blend to a fine, smooth paste. Tip the mixture into a large bowl and mix in the yoghurt, tomato purée, ginger, garlic, curry leaves and ground spices.
Transfer the mixture to a large saucepan and mix in the beef and butternut berries. Cover with a lid and simmer over medium heat for about an hour, or until the oil has separated and the beef is cooked. Stir often to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and season with salt if needed.
Meanwhile, make the pilau. Preheat your oven to 190C/170C Fan/Gas 5. Heat the oil or ghee in a 25cm/10in casserole dish. Add the spices and fry for 1–2 minutes, or until coloured. Add the onion and sauté for 1–2 minutes, or until pale. Add the rice and sauté for 2–3 minutes, stirring often so that all the grains are evenly coated.
Pour over the boiling water, season with salt and stir well, cleaning the sides of any loose grains. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid. Cook for 10 minutes, gently stirring every minute or so and clearing the sides of rice before covering the pan again. Add a little more water if needed.
Bake the rice for 15–20 minutes. Stir the rice with a roasting fork, loosening all the grains.
To finish the curry, stir the garam masala, if using, into the coconut milk, then add to the curry. Drop in the chillies and simmer for a few minutes more. Season to taste.
Serve the curry with the pilau.