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Keralan Spiced Beef and Aubergine

From Genevieve Taylor’s Seared.

Bavette, or flank steak, is a cut you can take to tenderness two ways – either rare, or cook low and slow. Anything approaching a middle ground result in tough and chewy meat. Here you use a high heat on your fire pit to sear and brown both steak and aubergines (eggplants), then you gently braise in a deliciously spicy curry sauce. Adding a little wood to the fire at the searing stage – or indeed cooking the whole thing over a purely wood fire – will add a glorious hit of smoke to the finished dish. Cooked over our Plain Jane 90.

Keralan Spiced Beef and Aubergine
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

1kg (2lb 4oz) bavette steak (or you could use skirt or onglet/hanger)
1 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tsp fennel seeds
½ tsp cloves
3cm (1¼in) cinnamon stick, crumbled
5 cardamom pods
1 star anise
1–2 tsp chilli powder, to taste
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium aubergines (eggplants), about 600g (1lb 5oz), sliced into wedges lengthways
3 fat garlic cloves, crushed
50g (2oz) fresh root ginger, grated
30g (1oz) fresh turmeric, grated (or 1 heaped tsp dried)
4 large vine tomatoes, about 400g (14oz), chopped
400ml (1¾ cups) water or stock
3 sprigs of fresh curry leaves
Flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Naan breads or rice, to serve

Lamb and Beef Curry on Swing Arm in Cooking Bowl from Genevieve Taylor's Seared - Firepits UK - LoRes 600x600 1

Method

1. Start this recipe the day before you want to eat, by dry-brining the steak for 24 hours, but even 2–4 hours would be good. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flaked sea salt over the steak, rubbing in well on both sides, then rest the on a rack set over a baking sheet. Slide into the fridge, uncovered, and leave to dry-brine.

2. Set a small frying pan (skillet) over a medium heat on the BBQ Rack over your Fire pit and add the coriander, fennel, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, and star anise. Toast for a minute or two until you can smell the fragrance wafting up from the pan, then tip into to a spice mill with the chilli powder and whizz to a powder. You can also use a pestle and mortar for a slightly coarser powder.

3. When you are ready to cook your curry, fire up the fire pit ready for direct and indirect grilling, lighting a full chimney of charcoal. Add a couple of chunks of smoking wood to the fire to give the steak a smoky hint.

4. Drizzle a little olive oil over the aubergine (eggplant) wedges and season with a little salt. Set on the grill bars, directly over the fire, and grill for a few minutes on each side so they take on a little colour on the outside.

5. Slide off the heat away from the fire so they can continue to soften indirectly while you sear the steak. Drizzle a little oil over the steak and set it directly over the fire, searing over a high heat until it’s beautifully browned, flipping it every 30 seconds or so to get maximum colour.

6. Remove to a plate and allow to cool a little before cutting across the grain into finger-thick slices.

7. Remove the cooked aubergine too, and allow to cool a little before dicing into 4–5cm (1½–2in) chunks. Set aside.

8. Set a deep fireproof frying pan directly over the fire and pour in a generous tablespoon of oil. Add the garlic, ginger, and turmeric, stir-frying over the heat for a few minutes before adding the spice powder and tomatoes. Cook for another few minutes until the tomatoes start to collapse.

9. Slide the sliced beef and aubergines into the pan and pour in the water or stock, stirring well to mix. Bring up to the boil, slide the pan a little off the direct heat. Leave to simmer until the sauce has thickened and the beef is tender, about 45 minutes depending on the heat. Stir through the curry leaves about 15 minutes before the end of cooking. Serve with plenty of rice or naan bread to mop up the sauce.

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