This Indonesian curry comes to us by way of the Around the World Cookbook and is aromatic with a lovely lemon grass flavor.
Like most curries it tastes even better the next day as the flavors sit and meld together. The long, slow cooking time ensures the softest pieces of meat and the coconut milk brings true depth and offsets any heat.
1/2 cup sunflower, vegetable or canola oil
2 onions thinly sliced
1 inch fresh ginger root, sliced, and cut in matchsticks
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 fresh red chilies, seeded and finely sliced
1 inch fresh turmeric peeled and crushed, or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric powder
1 lemon grass stem, lower part finely sliced (top part reserved)
1 1/2 pounds good quality steak, cut in even slices
14 ounces of coconut milk
1 1/4 cup water
1 eggplant, sliced and patted dry (when picking up eggplant look for shiny skin, no bruises, and light weight)
1 teaspoon tamarind pulp, soaked in 4 tablespoons warm water
Deep-fried onion garnish
Ground salt and pepper
Heat half of the oil and sautée the onions, ginger and garlic until they give off a rich aroma. Add the chilies, turmeric, and the lower part of the lemon grass. Push to one side and then turn up the heat and add the steak, stirring until the meat is browned.
Add the coconut milk, water, lemon grass top and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer gently for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender.
Towards the end of the cooking time heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the eggplant slices until they are brown on both sides.
Add the browned eggplant slices to the beef curry and cook for another 15 minutes. Stir gently from time to time. Strain the tamarind and stir the juice into the curry. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve with basmati rice and garnish (if desired) with deep-fried onions.