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Beef coconut curry- Sri Lankan style(village-style, naattu aviyal).

Beef coconut curry- Sri Lankan

(slow-cooked beef, naattu aviyal).

How to make beef curry cooked in coconut milk.

To make a tasty Beef curry, first you marinate the beef chunks in red chilli powder, red chilli flakes turmeric and season with salt. 

The marinated beef cubes are then added into tempered onions, curry leaves, pandan leaf with ginger-garlic paste to give you the most amazing aroma. 

gradually these spices and ingredients are absorbed into the beef and then we add thin and thick coconut milk.

Another family recipe.

The beef coconut curry also known as naatu aviyal(a Tamil term which loosely translates to a village-style beef curry)is then slow-cooked in low-fire to give you tender pieces of beef with a thick coconut curry saucy gravy.

And this dear reader is one of our family recipes that come from my mother-in-law.

It’s a beef recipe that her mother taught to her and now she has generously shared with me and my family. 

It’s good with rice but it’s much better with a Sri Lankan coconut roti or roast paan(crusty bread).

In a way, this simple dish is a window to simpler times when cooking was all about feeding large families with minimum effort.

Thanks to my mother-in-law, I get to share this wonderful beef dish with you that we’ve enjoyed for years with a dinner table packed with close family.

beef curry cooked in coconut milk and a clay pot.

As much as I love, love my grandmother’s beef curry, sometimes a more simple beef curry with fewer ingredients makes daily cooking easier.

I think that’s the reason I find this beef dish unique because all it takes is a handful of spices and a pot to cook.

AND THIS CURRY BEEF IS SPECIAL BECAUSE IT IS COOKED WITHOUT ANY CURRY POWDERS.

Yes, you read that right there’s no curry powder included in this beef curry, in fact, there are only three spice powders used,

Turmeric, red chilli powder and chilli flecks.

You can even reduce it to two by not adding the Turmeric powder(my sister-in-law cooks this way)and let the chilli powder and chilli flecks do its magic.

coconut beef curry close up with curry leaves.

But then where does the flavor of the beef curry come from?

I’m guessing you’ll be thinking this question by now, so let me give you the answer to it,

The flavor and the taste that makes this tasty beef dish so good comes from the tempering ingredients and coconut milk. 

Still not convinced?

well, then the only way to find out is by cooking this beef curry and finding out if my mother-in-law’s beef curry is really good as I have been bragging about this whole time. 

Is this beef coconut beef curry spicy?

Red chilli flecks and chilli powder, isn’t that like fire in my belly?

The thick coconut milk and the slow-cooking process helps to reduce the heat of all that chilli powder.

But if you are still doubtful and worry that the beef curry will be too spicy then reduce the amount of the red chilli powder and chilli flecks to suit your taste.

I do this sometimes, the result is similar to a butter chicken curry but with beef.

A creamy beef curry, packed with taste that will make you want more.

Thank you note to my readers.

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How to make beef curry cooked in coconut milk. To make a tasty Beef curry, first you marinate the beef chunks in red chilli powder, red chilli flakes turmeric and season with salt.  The marinated beef cubes are then added into tempered onions, curry leaves, pandan leaf with ginger-garlic paste to give you the most amazing aroma. 

How to make thin and thick coconut milk using coconut milk powder.

You might find prepackaged coconut milk in liquid form which is available in supermarkets and is preferable for the recipe.

When I mention thick coconut milk, this means it’s used without diluting it with water. to make thin coconut milk out of the liquid, simply add 1 cup of water to 1 cup of thick coconut milk.

If you don’t find the liquid coconut milk then you can use coconut milk powder.

To make thin milk add 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of coconut powder to 3 cups of water. to make thick milk add 4 tablespoons of coconut powder per cup water.

Kitchen utensils and appliances needed.

You will need a bowl to marinate the beef for a few minutes and a large pan to cook the beef.

How to cut the beef for coconut beef curry.
  • Cut the beef against the grain.
  • Rather than cutting the beef into cubes, slice the beef as you will for a stir-fry, only make sure the strips are not thin but large chunks.


Notes regarding optional ingredients mentioned on the Sri Lankan beef curry.

While reading the recipe you’ll notice, I’ve mentioned Turmeric powder and tomatoes as optional ingredients.

The reason for this is simple, there are two variations of the same dish.

One, my mother-in-law makes(no turmeric or tomatoes)and the one my sister-in-law makes(includes both).

Whichever option you choose you’ll still have a good beef curry to enjoy, I know this because obviously I’ve tried and loved both.

I’m giving you the option to keep your ingredients to a minimum or add more.

More beef recipes

Slow-cooked Sri Lankan beef curry(like my grandmother makes). 

Slow-cooked Indian beef and potato curry. 

Beef korma

Storing-use glass container with lid or old plastic container as they would stain.

Freezing-once cool, you can freeze the curry for 4-5 days but avoid freezing the beef curry more than a week. 

Heating- if frozen, remove from freezer and let the beef curry room temperature.

Heating over a stove top-place beef curry in a pan with 1/4 cup water and use low-medium heat to heat the curry for 5 minutes. 

Heating with a microwave-place beef curry in a microwavable bowl, cover with a lid to avoid splatter and microwave for 3-4 minutes over high heat.

Avoid food waste– you can use the beef curry in wraps, tortillas or even mix with some leftover rice. breakfast can be some beef curry with a fried egg and some toasted bread.

recipe difficulty rating.

How to make coconut beef curry(slow-cooked,naattu aviyal).

700g of good beef cut into required size

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder(optional, refer notes on optional ingredients)

1 and 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder(reduce or increase as per your need)

1 and 1/2 tablespoon of chilli flecks(reduce or increase as per your need)

1 and 1/2 cup of thin coconut milk(see notes above if using coconut milk powder)

1 cup of thick coconut milk(see notes above)

Salt to season 

For tempering

3 tablespoons of oil

A sprig of curry leaves(5-6, substitute with 1 bay leaf)

2 tablespoons of garlic ginger paste( 4 garlic cloves and a 2-inch piece of ginger should do)

1 medium-sized onion finely sliced

1 piece of pandan leaf( 3 inches long)

A piece of 2-inch cinnamon

4 slightly bruised cardamom

1 medium-sized tomato chopped(optional, refer notes on optional ingredients)

Method

Cut the beef(700g) into the required size, not too small, wash thoroughly and place the beef in a large bowl. 

As you read the ingredient list, you’ll notice, there’s quite a lot of chilli powder and flecks involved.

If you are using your hands to mix in the ingredients and you have sensitive skin I would suggest using disposable gloves.

Even if you are a seasoned cook, once you mix the ingredients, immediately wash your hands with slightly warm water to avoid burning hands.

To the bowl of beef chunks, add red chilli flecks(1 and 1/2 tablespoons), turmeric(1/2 teaspoon optional), red chilli powder(1 and a 1/2 teaspoon), season with salt(start with 1 teaspoon).

Combine all the ingredients and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

beef marinated in red chilli powder and chilli flakes to make the beef curry.

Place a large pot(preferably a clay pot if you can find one)over medium heat and let the pan gently heat for a few seconds.

Pour in oil(3 tbs) and heat it for a few seconds. Add curry leaves(a sprig, substitute with a bay leaf).

Temper them for 10 seconds or until they sizzle. 

Add the ginger-garlic paste(2 tbs) and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the onions(1 medium, sliced fine), tomatoes(optional), cardamom(4), cinnamon(2″) and pandan leaf(3″,in the given order).

Slightly reduce heat and sauté the tempering ingredients until the onions turn golden brown.  

tempering ginger-garlic, curry leaves, onions to make the beef curry.

Once the onions turn golden brown, add the marinated beef to the pan.

Increase heat to medium and cook until any liquid let out by the beef completely evaporates. 

Cook until all the water cooks through. this could take from 20-30 minutes.  

Once there is no liquid left in the beef curry, pour in the thin(1 and 1/2 cup) and thick coconut milk(1 cup) at the same time.

Season with salt if necessary.

Now reduce heat to low, cover pan with lid(not completely), and let the beef slow simmer. 

It will probably take 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, for the beef curry to cook through.

40 minutes later, You can taste and adjust salt as the beef curry cooks or add a teaspoon of red chili powder if you want a more spicy curry.

See the notes above if you want to make a milder beef curry.  

Continue to slow simmer until the gravy thickens.

By the time the curry is done, you will have tender beef with visible chilli flecks coating the beef curry and the saucy coconut gravy coating the beef.

Yield: 5

Beef coconut curry- Sri Lankan style(village-style, naattu aviyal).

beef coconut curry cooked in a clay pot
A family recipe.

 The beef coconut curry also known as naatu aviyal(a Tamil term which loosely translates to a village-style beef curry)is then slow-cooked in low-fire to give you tender pieces of beef with a thick coconut curry saucy gravy.

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • Ingredients mentioned below use standard measuring cups and spoons.
  • 700g of good beef cut into required size
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder(optional, refer notes on optional ingredients)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoon of chilli flecks
  • 1 and 1/2 cup of thin coconut milk(see notes above if using coconut milk powder)
  • 1 cup of thick coconut milk(see notes above)
  • Salt to season
  • For tempering
  • 3 tablespoons of oil
  • A sprig of curry leaves(5-6, substitute with 1 bay leaf)
  • 2 tablespoons of garlic ginger paste( 4 garlic cloves and a 2-inch piece of ginger should do)
  • 1 medium-sized onion finely sliced
  • 1 piece of pandan leaf( 3 inches long)
  • A piece of 2-inch cinnamon
  • 4 slightly bruised cardamom
  • 1 medium-sized tomato chopped(optional, refer notes on optional ingredients)

Instructions

Cut the beef(700g) into the required size, not too small, wash thoroughly and place the beef in a large bowl. 

As you read the ingredient list, you’ll notice, there’s quite a lot of chilli powder and flecks involved.

If you are using your hands to mix in the ingredients and you have sensitive skin I would suggest using disposable gloves.

Even if you are a seasoned cook, once you mix the ingredients, immediately wash your hands with slightly warm water to avoid burning hands.

To the bowl of beef chunks, add red chilli flecks(1 and 1/2 tablespoons), turmeric(1/2 teaspoon optional), red chilli powder(1 and a 1/2 teaspoon), season with salt(start with 1 teaspoon).

Combine all the ingredients and set aside for 10-15 minutes.

Place a large pot(preferably a clay pot if you can find one)over medium heat and let the pan gently heat for a few seconds.

Pour in oil(3 tbs) and heat it for a few seconds. Add curry leaves(a sprig, substitute with a bay leaf).

Temper them for 10 seconds or until they sizzle. 

Add the ginger-garlic paste(2 tbs) and cook for 2 minutes.

Add the onions(1 medium, sliced fine), tomatoes(optional), cardamom(4), cinnamon(2″) and pandan leaf(3″,in the given order).

Slightly reduce heat and sauté the tempering ingredients until the onions turn golden brown.  

Once the onions turn golden brown, add the marinated beef to the pan.

Increase heat to medium and cook until any liquid let out by the beef completely evaporates. 

Cook until all the water cooks through. this could take from 20-30 minutes.  

Once there is no liquid left in the beef curry, pour in the thin(1 and 1/2 cup) and thick coconut milk(1 cup) at the same time.

Season with salt if necessary.

Now reduce heat to low, cover pan with lid(not completely), and let the beef slow simmer. 

It will probably take 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes, for the beef curry to cook through.

40 minutes later, You can taste and adjust salt as the beef curry cooks or add a teaspoon of red chili powder if you want a more spicy curry.

See the notes above if you want to make a milder beef curry.  

Continue to slow simmer until the gravy thickens.

By the time the curry is done, you will have tender beef with visible chilli flecks coating the beef curry and the saucy coconut gravy coating the beef.

Each recipe on this blog has been written with great care and love to the best of my ability with you in mind.
It’s free and on the blog, for you to try anytime.

All I ask is that you do not save it on any apps, recipe boxes or online groups which will affect me as a food blogger and the growth of this blog. I would appreciate if you only share the link rather than the full recipe. 

All images and text on this website are protected by copyright.

Sri Lankan three spice-raw/unroasted curry powder(thuna-paha).
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Di

Thursday 6th of December 2018

How many curry leaves are added? These are not mentioned in the ingredient list.

jehan

Wednesday 5th of December 2018

A sprig of curry leaves or 7-8 leaves could do.

Betty

Friday 21st of September 2018

Thanks for the response. I am making this recipe at this moment and I do not see onions in the recipe, but they are in the directions, nor do I see when to add the tomato. Maybe the tomato is an onion?

jehan

Friday 21st of September 2018

I'm sorry Betty, I will edit the recipe as soon as i get to my computer. Onions and tomato(an optional ingredient, you may or may not want to add it), these go at the beginning as tempering I ingredients. You temper all the ingredient including onion and tomato then add the beef. Cook till gravy is reduced and the gravy turns red. Again extremely sorry for the confusion.

Betty

Monday 17th of September 2018

Can you suggest a substitute for pandan leaf. I have never heard of it, and it's not available here. An online comment suggested rosewater?

jehan

Monday 17th of September 2018

Hi Betty You can substitute pandan leaf with 2 bay leaves.

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