I can’t believe I still haven’t blogged about one of the most famous non-vegetarian preparations from Kerala, the good old beef fry! Succulent beef pieces cooked in freshly ground spices and sauteed dry with onions and coconut slices, this is one of those famous Thattukada dishes.

Thattukada is Kerala’s version of a fast food joint. While the beef fry is not fast food, the fact that time works in favor of the flavors in this dish and it actually tastes better after reheating makes it an ideal candidate for the fast paced Thattukadas. Beef fry is normally served with hot Kerala Parathas at these places, and it used to be the cheapest non-veg dish in most restaurants when I was young.  I hear that things have changed now, beef is more expensive than chicken due to the reduced supply of cattle and wide spread chicken farming.

My roommate and I used to eat out almost every day when we were in college since the hostel food was completely unpalatable. Some days we were totally broke, this beef fry used to be the savior those days. It was only 10 rupees a plate (about 25 cents), divide that by two, you can’t get anything cheaper than that! I still remember how good it was and how the slight sweetness of the fried coconut slices contrasted the heat from the spices. I don’t think I can ever recreate that exact taste, but over time I have come very close to the taste of that Thattukada beef fry.

This is one of those dishes where you really need tons of curry leaves to get that authentic taste, but due to the curry leaves ban in the US, I had to make it without those.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs beef cut into small cubes
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced garlic pieces
  • 1 tbsp thinly sliced ginger pieces
  • 1 tsp fat free mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced coconut pieces (available frozen in Indian grocery stores)
  • 2 cups thinly sliced onions
  • lots of curry leaves (not really optional, but I made it without these)
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp oil

To roast and grind

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 10 dry red chillies
  • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1″ cinnamon

Method

Heat a skillet and dry roast the ingredients under to “to roast and grind” section. Grind these to a smooth powder in a spice grinder or a coffee grinder.

Place the beef pieces in a pressure cooker. Add the spice powder, garlic, ginger, coconut, mayonnaises and vinegar and mix well. Keep it marinated for about 15 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water and pressure cook for about 8 minutes after the first whistle.

(If you don’t have a pressure cooker, add about a cup of water and cook in a pan with a tight lid, occasionally stirring to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn. Cook for about 20 minutes till the beef pieces are tender. )

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and add the onions and curry leaves. Add salt to taste and saute till the onions start to brown.

Stir in the cooked beef mixture to the pan, and saute on medium heat for about 15-20 minutes till it is completely dry.

Serve with some lime/lemon wedges. This goes best with cold beer. I love having it with white rice and yogurt.