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Friday, January 10, 2014

Beef Stew

We dont have butchers here in the Maldives. We get our meat and poultry from supermarkets( or rather well stocked shops), where they sell imported meat and chicken and occasionally duck and turkey. The meat  can be buffolo meat from india or    beef from Brazil which is a bit better in quality and taste.
 The best is from a slightly more  pricier supermarket which sells really good quality meat from Australia.All the meat has to be halal certified as Maldives is a Muslim community.  Sometimes I do wish they would come up with  local butcher shops .  As for buying the best of cut meat it was until recently I learnt a little about what were the best cut to use for stews and what to use for quick cooking recipes such as stir fries, thanks to cooking shows on tv and cookbooks.

The biggest mistake  a lot of us make is how we cook the  meat. I am constantly after my mum for   vigourously cooking beef when she is making   curries ,which results in the chewing textured meat.  The best way to do this ( without sounding like a complere know it all) is to bring the contents to a quick boil then bring the heat down really low, cover with a lid and cook on this low heat for 1 1/2 hours.  ( or  you can pop in an preheated oven at gas mark 2 )

For stews and curries I use topside  or chuck steak.  For stir fries and steaks I use tenderloin or if I am really being indulgent I go and buy the pricey Australian beef  flank steak or porterhouse steak that they sell at Fantasy store( thats a high end supermarket situated in Male' city ).

I made this stew using  my trusty  cast iron casserole although any good heavy bottomed  cooking pot is  perfect . If it doesnt have oven proof handles  just wrap some foil on the  handles.

Recipe : Beef Stew , recipe adapted from   Gordon Ramsey's Beef stew with Mustard suet dumplings

550g beef ( chuck or top side  or any good beef that you use for stewing and casseroles not tenderloin )
2 medium size or 1 large onion cut into wedges
1 carrot cut into large chunks
4 cloves garlic ( bashed up, that is a good whack with the knife)
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
pinch of dried chilli flakes
 250 ml pure  unsweetened red grape juice ( Use Dewlands or Rauch ) , I know what you are thinking  but I like adding the grape juice with beef as it turned out pretty well when I made chicken stew.
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
500ml   hot water
1 beef stock cube ( see note)
2 heaped tsps tomato paste
a little flour ( about 2 -3 tbsp)
olive oil
finely chopped parsley

1. Cut the beef into large chunks about 1 1/2 to 2 inch cubes.  Dry each with paper kitchen towels and season with salt and pepper. Fill a plate with the flour and roll each beef cube and dust off any excess.

2. Preheat the oven to gas mark 2

3. Heat olive oil about 3 tbsp in a casserole or a heavy bottomed pan,  sear your beef cubes , in batches till brown on the outside but still raw on the inside.  Remove to a plate and set a side.

4. Add the carrots , onion  and garlic into the casserole and saute'  for about 1-2  minutes, Add the grape juice  and scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any bits stuck at the bottom.

5. Add thyme ( use fresh if you have ), bay leaves, chilli flakes, pepper and tomato  paste. Dissolve the stock cube into the hot water and pour it into the pot.  ( do not add salt!!)

6. Return the beef cubes along with any juices collected  in the plate, bring the stew to a rapid boil and then switch off heat, put the lid on, and place in the oven for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  Check once or twice  and give a stir.

7. After about 2 hours, the meat should be melt in the mouth texture, remove from oven  stir in half of the parsley and taste add salt to suit your taste. If you like your stew  slightly thicker cook a few more minutes with the lid off on the stove top or in the oven.

Serve  sprinkled with remaining alongside some nice crusty bread or garlic rolls or some bubble and squeak mash

Note: You can use  fresh beef stock if you have or those store bought packets of beef stock, just  leave the water and stock cube out and use liquid stock in its place.


  1. Hi Nammi, I love your beef stew. Looks so delicious... more rice please!

  2. great British meal here and interesting that all meat is imported

  3. You don't have butchers! :O
    My problem in Holland is that halal butchers don't cut the meat in the same way I was used to have in Spain. Majority of halal butchers are moroccan, and they don't make the same cut for meat than spanish people. But I'm trying to get used to not prepare some spanish dishes that need a certain cut.
    I want also to buy a pan as the one you have, they are very good for stews ;)
    Your recipe, by the way, looks yummy
    have a nice week-end

  4. What a delicious stew! Very comforting. I cook mine a similar way to get tender. First I brown it on higher heat then simmer for a long time on low.

  5. that is an interesting stew... i'm surprised u've no butchers there, nothing like cooking fresh meat, really....


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