Unlike more Hindu-dominant regions of India, beef is cooked throughout Kerala and is an example of the Muslim and Syrian Christian influence in this southern state. Known simply as ‘beef fry’, this mildly spiced dish also includes coconut, a ubiquitous ingredient in this coastal region. This classic dish calls for the meat to be cooked twice: first in a pressure cooker until very tender, then fried with fresh coconut and curry leaves. The result is an intensely flavoured dry style of curry.






Skill level

Average: 4.3 (19 votes)


  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 tsp ground chilli
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 cinnamon quill
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 cm piece ginger, finely grated
  • 2 Asian red eschalots (see Note), finely chopped
  • 1 kg beef chuck, trimmed, cut into 3 cm pieces
  • 60 ml (¼ cup) coconut oil (see Note)
  • 15 curry leaves (see Note)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 long green chilies, halved lengthways
  • 60 g (½ cup) freshly shaved coconut, plus extra, to serve
  • steamed rice and lime wedges, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Marinating time 1 hour
Drink match
2011 Glaetzer-Dixon Mon Père Shiraz, Tasmania ($46)

Using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder, grind star anise and cloves until fine. Place in a bowl with chilli, turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, garlic, ginger, eschalots and beef. Season with salt, mixing well to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to marinate.

Place beef and marinade in a pressure cooker and cook on medium, following manufacturer’s instructions, for 45 minutes or until beef is tender. Set beef aside. Alternatively, place beef and marinade in a large, heavy-based saucepan with 1 L heated beef stock and cook, covered, over medium–low heat for 2 hours. Remove beef from liquid and set aside.

Heat oil in a large, non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add 7 curry leaves and cook for 1 minute or until crisp. Remove and set aside. Add onion and green chillies, and cook, stirring, for 7 minutes or until onion is golden. Add remaining 8 curry leaves and cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Add coconut and beef mixture, and cook, stirring, for 15 minutes or until beef is browned and mixture is dry.

Scatter beef with crisp curry leaves and extra coconut shavings. Serve with steamed rice and lime wedges.



• Asian red eschalots are available from select greengrocers and Asian food shops.

• Coconut oil is available from health food shops and Asian food shops.

• Curry leaves are available from select greengrocers.


Photography Derek Swalwell