This Madras curry, my cookbook tells me, is a popular hot and spicy dish names after Madras, the major city of southern India. The hot and spicy label is hardly surprising once you read the recipe: it tells us to include at least five chillies!
I have to admit using about half the recommended dose of chilli when we have guests, but even the milder version is still delicious and well worth the time it takes to make a good curry, which isn’t much hands-on time at all.
This version is almost a Meat Madras because cook it all up in one pot, and we add in a large eggplant, carefully chopped into cubes that look very similar to the meat once everything’s cooked. Thanks to eggplant’s amazing ability to soak up flavours, no one has ever noticed, giving me another way to sneak veggies into the meal. It also makes the meat go further (an important consideration in student days), and it’s now the way I like this curry.
Maybe one of the excellent Indian cooks can tell me how much of a travesty my misappropriation of this Indian classic is.
Meat Madras (with eggplant)
- 1 kilogram of red meat
- 2 diced onions
- 2 cm of ginger
- 5 large cloves of garlic
- 4-6 dried chillies
- 1-2 green chillies
- 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
- 3 teaspoons of ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon of ground tumeric
- 1 large tin of tomatoes
- up to a cup of water
- pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon of garam masala
- 1 large eggplant (very optional)
- Chop the onions and garlic as finely as possible, mince the ginger. Chop or crush the chillies. Cut the meat, and the eggplant if you’re using it, into 1-centimetre cubes.
- In a large pot, saute the onions, ginger, and garlic in a little water. Then stir in the chillies and all the spices. Cook for a few minutes then add the tomatoes.
- Add the meat (and eggplant) and stir in well.
- Add just enough water to create a thick but still-runny sauce, then put the lid on the pot and let it simmer for at least an hour. It’s ready when the meat is soft and juicy. if you’ve added eggplant, this curry is ready when you can’t tell the difference between eggplant and meat cubes just by looking.
- Stir in the garam masala just before serving.
The original is slightly more involved. It tells us to saute the onions, half the garlic, ginger and red chillies first, then set aside. Then fry the rest of the garlic and chillis up, add the tomatoes and spices and cook for about 5-10 minutes. Add the meat to this and cook until it’s browned. Add the water and simmer for about half an hour. Then take the fried onion saute, blend it, and pour that over the meat mixture and cook the lot for another 30-40 minutes.
Source: Adapted from Classic Indian Cuisine (1995). Edited by Rosemary Moon. Tiger Books: Twickenham.