Friday, November 9, 2012

Curried Beef Stew

by Sheila Connolly

Blame it on the turmeric.

The last time I was in Philadelphia, of course I visited the Reading Terminal Market (yes, again), and as usual, I found something I wasn't looking for:  fresh turmeric.  I had never seen anything but the dried version in a bottle, so of course I had to try it.

But finding a recipe for fresh turmeric is not easy, I soon discovered.  Luckily I came upon one recipe for a Thai-inspired beef curry on Epicurious.  What'e more, I had most of the (rather unusual) ingredients on hand, so I decided it was meant to be.


In case you're wondering, a fresh, unpeeled turmeric looks like a dessicated caterpillar.  Peeled, it's the color of a carrot.  Its flavor is earthy and a little bit bitter, but not too strong. The stew is unusual and flavorful, and you can vary the heat to your taste.

Curry paste:

3 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded (these are not very hot)

½ tsp salt

1 lemongrass stalk (I had some picked lemongrass so used that)

2 Tblsp sliced peeled fresh galangal (uh, not—but I did have dried!)

2 Tblsp sliced peeled fresh turmeric

½ cup chopped shallots

¼ cup halved garlic cloves

The original instructions called for pounding this in a large mortar.  Nope, don't have one.  Enter the food processor.

Process the chiles and salt until finely chopped.  Add the other ingredients one at a time, pulverizing each before adding the next.  The whole will take about 10-15 minutes.  You can make this ahead, and keep it (covered) in the refrigerator.



1 lb beef, cut into 1-inch cubes (Note about the beef:  since there is no oil or fat in the rest of this recipe, you can use well-marbled beef, which will be less dry and more tender)

3 Tblsp soy sauce

2 Tblsp ground dried Thai chiles (these are hot! So you decide)

6 cups beef broth (enough to cover)

1 cup halved shallots

3 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut crosswise into half-moons (about 1 cup)

Chopped fresh cilantro

Sliced Thai basil (I happened to have some growing in a pot)


Combine the curry paste, beef, soy sauce and ground chiles in a pot, and stir to coat the beef.  Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 5 minutes.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Then cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beef is tender, about 2-2 ½ hours.


Stir in the shallots and carrots.  Simmer until the vegetables are tender (the timing will depend on how large your carrots were).


Garnish will the cilantro and basil, and serve over rice.

 A nice warm dish for a cold winter night!



  1. Going to try this Sheila! I love curry but have never tried to make it from scratch

  2. Such a beautiful dish, Sheila! I rarely make curries, and I've certainly never made one with fresh tumeric (wow!) ... but you've inspired me. Since we still have basil growing like crazy, I may make a green curry this weekend. :)

  3. Wow, what an exotic recipe. Must have been delicious! I've never seen fresh turmeric. Thanks for the photos. I use powdered turmeric as a natural food color. No one has ever noticed (taste-wise) that I've added it to sweets, including frostings and candy. It really does make things beautifully yellow. Wonder if it was used for tribal face-painting hundreds of years ago.

    ~ Krista

  4. Mmm, I bet this smells delicious as it cooks. I think I can get some of those unusual ingredients in our local Meijer. Grand Rapdids has a sizeable enough Asian population that they do carry a lot of exotic vegetables and spices.

  5. Sheila, lovely and exotic. I adore the plate you served it in. Wow!

    ~Daryl aka Avery