It's been a little while since I updated The Great Curry Odyssey, and there is a very good reason for this; specifically, because I haven't had a chance to spend the afternoon making curry.
The more I go down this track, the more I like the idea of Curry Paste.
But a couple of weeks ago, at the Hutt Riverbank Market, my eagle eyes picked out a tiny stall where a man and his son were selling ingredients for real, authentic, make-it-from-scratch curry, including galangal, kaffir limes and leaves and, what really caught my eye:
My Nana has a lemongrass plant in Coromandel, where the stuff grows wild. Down here it's a delicacy, and more importantly, it's the key ingredient in one of my favourite curries, Rendang.
If you're in Wellington and you want to know why Rendang is my favourite curry ever, head down to Satay Village on Ghuznee St, and order the Chicken Rendang, with a side order of Roti. If you're not a curry person, order it in mild, and I guarantee you will still be impressed.
So, with grand delusions in my head that I might have even a ghost of a chance of creating a rendang to rival the best in Wellington, I bought a bunch of lemongrass and started scheming out dinner for the night.
For once (as is the way with the Great Curry Odyssey) I did a bit of research, trawled through several rendang recipes online, cross-referenced these with what I actually had on hand, and composed the following hybrid recipe.
For a first time, it came out pretty well, though it didn't have a bar on Satay Village. Being beef, not chicken, and not having lovely oily rotis to go with it probably didn't help. It was hotter than I anticipated, but we took it to a shared dinner, and thankfully Uncle Ian and Liz E Bear, who both like spicy food, gave it the thumbs up.
The curious thing is that that man and his son have not been at the market again since. I wish I was a travelling curry ingredient salesman, bringing galagnal to a new farmers market every week. That would be the life for me, indeed.
Of course, I'd need to a) grow galangal first, and b) know what galangal was, and what to use it for. That would help, I imagine.
500g Skirt Steak, diced
4 cloves of Garlic
2 small Onions
3 small dried Chillis
2t crushed Ginger
5 stalks of Lemongrass
1/4t Fennel seeds
1/4t Coriander seeds
1 whole Nutmeg
2T Brown Sugar
3 whole Cloves
1/4 Cinnamon stick
400ml can of Coconut Milk
Chop and fry the garlic and onions until just soft (You might not need to fry these. Between the market and dinner time I had forgotten I had lemongrass for rendang, and I had started making goulash. But hey, I'm just relaying what I did to get here). In a bowl, mix up the garlic and onion with the chillis, ginger, and lemongrass, chopped. Blend to a paste by whatever means is most practical. I would've liked more of a paste than what I got here, but I was rushed (what with having set out to cook a goulash, and now trying to throw together my rendang research on the fly).
I decided to use the Jamie Oliver Ball Thingy to mix up my masala, using it to pulverise the fennel, coriander, and nutmeg (which I think I grated in).
In a pot, heat the paste, then add the masala. Heat for a minute to bring out the flavours, then add the beef and brown, tossing in the curry mix to coat it.
Add the sugar, cloves, cinnamon, and coconut milk. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, and leave to cook down for a couple of hours. The rendang should come out almost dry, but with lovely tender, spicy chunks of meat.
Serve over rice (preferably rice boiled in beef stock), with nice hot, oily rotis if you can get them.
Previous Posts in the Great Curry Odyssey:
Naan Bread (For Comedic Value Only)
Curried Lemon Chicken