My dad, God bless his soul, was a rock ‘n’ roll cook. All my life whenever I watched him cook, I never ever saw him use a spoon, leave alone a measuring spoon, when it came to herbs, spices, seasoning; essentially the whole shebang. Pops smidgened, dashed and pinched with his fingers. Chucking ’em in, as I like to say, just like that only; and crash, boom, bang, boy! did he make food sing.
Dad made Beef Juliennes on festive days. I haven’t eaten this dish in years. So this Christmas at the Batcave, I attempted it totally from memory. This requires an explanation. I learned much, much later in life what a ‘julienne’ meant. Growing up, I thought it was beef made by a guy called Julian. My only memory is of unwinding the string that curled around a strip of beef, which had juliennes of potato, carrot and some other veggie with its folds. Heaven! Thanks, Dad.
1 kg beef (cut into thick strips (12 nos. at least) and flatten with a mallet into 5” x 3” rectangles)
Marinade: Splash of vinegar 1 tsp garlic paste 1 tsp ginger paste 1 tsp East Indian green masala (use your masala of choice)
A little salt
2 large potatoes (cut like a French fry)
2 carrots (julienne to F. fry length)
2 capsicums (julienne ditto)
2 tbsp oil
3 bay leaves
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 medium tomatoes, c. fine
3 green chillies, split lengthwise
1 tsp garlic paste
1⁄2 tsp ginger paste
1⁄2 tsp tumeric powder
1 tsp chilli powder
1 and 1⁄2 tsps East Indian green masala
Tamarind (lemon-sized ball of; keep in bowl of hot water prior to prep)
Salt to taste
Let beef marinate overnight in fridge.
In a large pan, heat oil.
Fry potatoes till brown on each side but don’t allow to cook completely.
Give carrots and capsicum the same treatment.
Remove beef from fridge.
On a clean cutting board, lay a strip of beef.
Assemble a julienne each of potato, carrot and capsicum on it and roll the meat around them into a tube.
Now for the fun bit!
Wind cotton thread round and around the tube till juliennes firmly secure. Voila! A beef julienne. Ditto with the rest.
In the same pan, heat a little more oil.
In with b. leaves and cardamom.
Fry till they release aroma.
Fry onions till translucent.
Then fry tomatoes till its water dries up.
In with the chillies, ginger, garlic and powders.
Stir till you get the aroma.
Then arrange the beef juliennes in the pan and cover.
Let beef stew in own juices of 10-15 minutes on a low flame (or till water starts to dry up).
Next, add water.
Just enough to cover the beef by a finger’s width.
Bring to a boil.
Then let the beef burble in pan on low flame till it cooks tender (check with a fork).
When almost done, squeeze juice out of tamarind and add to the broth.
Add salt to taste.
Gently shake the pan around.
When done, remove bay leaves and cardamoms, and allow beef to rest for 10-15 minutes.
I enjoy the ritual of unstringing the beef julienne as I eat but for the more orderly in our midst, de-string prior to plating (clean hands, merci b.), which come to think of it, makes for a better presentation.
Best with steamed rice.