I first ate this at a restaurant called Melati in Windmill Street just a few doors up from the legendary Windmill theatre in Soho, London. I’d been on a promotional trip to the Netherlands with Dave Stewart and Colin Bluntstone and the record company took us to an Indonesian restaurant for the first time. So back in the UK I hunted down
Melati, which in the 80’s was the best. It was run by a very friendly Malaysian woman called Margaret who was always very nice to me. She gave me a printed sheet with a recipe for rending on. So this is that one…..kind of.
600-800g braising steak such as skirt, flank or hangar, cut into 1”/2.5cm sq. chunks
2 tbsp veg oil for frying
4 tbsp (or more if required) cornflour
1 large onion, finely chopped
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2”/5cm piece of ginger, peeled & grated
3-4 red chillies, chopped (quantity depending on how spicy you like it, & remove seeds if you don’t want too much heat)
2 tsp tamarind paste
1tsp ground turmeric
1tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
4 tsp brown sugar (muscovado or similar)
2 cans of coconut milk (normal not the light stuff) shake well before opening
2 Kaffir lime leaves (dried or fresh)
In a pan or wok heat the oil.
Coat the beef in chunks in the cornflour then fry until brown over medium to high heat. If necessary do it in batches to avoid crowding the pan. This is important otherwise you’ll stew the beef.
Remove from the pan, lower the heat to medium & fry the chopped onion (adding more oil if required).
Then add the turmeric, ginger & garlic, & cook for a few minutes.
Add the tamarind paste, salt, pepper, chillies, ground coriander, cinnamon, sugar & lime leaves. Cook for a couple of mins.
Add the coconut milk (having shaken the cans) & bring to a gentle boil & stir for a couple of mins before adding the beef & stirring for a further 2 mins.
Transfer to a casserole dish with a lid & put into a 150C / Gas 2 oven for 1½ hrs, stirring half way through.
At the end of 90 mins give it another stir and remove the lid.
Return it to the oven for another 2½ hours, checking it towards the end - leave it in for longer, the drier you like it.
Nigel suggests serving on a bed of Thai sticky rice & your favourite seasonal greens.