I adore curry in all its forms. It has that delightful, motley mix of spices — sweet and savory and hot and cool — all combined in ways that you wouldn’t think to use in pretty much any other context.
What I am not fond of is curry powder. I mean, okay, it’s tasty and it has its place, but I learned to make curry from a family friend who learned from her mother who probably learned from her mother and so on and so forth going all the way back to the time of the earliest settlements in the Indus River Valley. And if there’s anything you learn from actually paying attention to traditional curries, it’s 1. That curry literally just means “sauce” and 2. That there are so many beautiful variations of curry that it seems absolutely ridiculous to pigeonhole all these beautiful things into one, fairly uniform spice mix that was invented by the British in the 18th century.
The other wonderful thing about avoiding prefab curry powder is it gives you the chance to play. (I’m a bit of a mad scientist in the kitchen. Maybe I should write a blog or something…) As much as I love the traditional recipes I’ve learned over the years, I also love being able to create.
This is one of my own creations, a light, gently spiced curry that came to be because I was getting terribly bored with my auto-immune diet. It would have my aforementioned teacher more than a little astounded at me (she’s a vegetarian), but I maintain it’s delicious if you’re a meat eater. If you’re having the same boredom problem I am but are following a more strict auto-immune protocol (anything that doesn’t allow seeds) you can omit the cardamom and cumin and up the other spices. It will be different (the cardamom is kind of the star of this one) but it will be tasty. And if you require something more in your life than deliciously spiced meat and vegetables and aren’t eating a ridiculously restricted diet, you can throw in some potatoes or else serve it over rice.
Curried Beef with Broccoli and Shaved Brussels Sprouts
- 3/4 lb ground beef (I realize this is a weird amount; I used 3 1/4lb patties because it was what I had, but if you have a solid pound that will probably be just fine.)
- 2 cups shaved or thinly sliced brussels sprouts
- 1-2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 cup beef stock (I used a homemade bullion cube + water)
- 1/2 a head of garlic, peeled and minced or pressed
- 3/4 of an inch ginger, peeled and minced
- 5 green cardamom pods
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 T Cooking fat (I used coconut oil, but ghee, butter, olive oil, etc. will all work.)
- Salt to taste
- Butter (Optional)
Heat your cooking fat over medium-high heat and crack open your cardamom pods into the pan. (You can crack them only partially, although I like to empty out all the seeds into the pan and saute them with the husks. If you don’t want to deal with finding the husks in your food, you can also use only the seeds, but I like all the cardamom flavor I can get.) When they have begun to sizzle lightly, add the garlic and ginger and saute. Reduce the heat if the oil splatters too much.
Next, add the ground beef and cook until completely browned. Add cumin, turmeric, and cinnamon and stir in. Heat this for a moment before adding brussels sprouts and broccoli. Mix until the veggies are nicely coated with tastiness and then add beef stock and pop the lid on to let it steam. When the broccoli is almost as tender as you’d generally like to eat, remove the lid and allow the liquid to cook down until very little remains. Serve and salt to taste.
I love this with a tiny bit of butter melted on top, but this is purely optional. You can try to fish out the cardamom husks before serving, but I generally find it easier just to pick them out as I eat. They won’t hurt anyone, they’re just not fun to chew on.