Coconut Beef Curry with Garlic Naan

Today’s recipe is about taking a shortcut, but also going the extra mile.

That sounds like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?

It’s also become my cooking lifestyle.

Once you start cooking and baking things from scratch, it can be hard to go back to taking certain shortcuts. When I was a kid, I loved eating canned stews–nowadays if I want stew, then I’m going to just make one myself that will have five times the flavor and ten times less sodium. I literally cannot eat box mix cake anymore. Break and bake cookies are a HARD pass. I admit that the biscuit dough you can buy in a can aren’t awful ….but mine are still better.

On the other hand–sometimes, I’m not above taking a shortcut in the kitchen. For example, (in full disclosure) making rice is a stumbling block of mine. I just cannot get it right. Minute Rice is my remedy for that. Whenever I get a craving for sweet potato waffle fries, do you think I’m above going to the frozen foods section and picking up that bag? Tuh. Sometimes the shortcut is just the way to go.

A traditional curry recipe will likely have up to ten or fifteen different spices in it that are also usually freshly ground. It’s then cooked and stewed for HOURS. I’ve seen some that take all day long. On the day that I made this dish, I didn’t have all day long. I also didn’t have ten to fifteen spices that I ground up from scratch. I took a shortcut.

Instead of 10 to 15 spices, I used jarred, pre-ground curry powder. Quite a lot of it, since we’re trying to make up for the loss of flavor from the fresh spices. Mine also won’t take you all day long to cook–a slow braise in the oven for bout 90 minutes to two hours is all you should need. That’s the shortcut.

Now for the extra mile.

There are a lot of stores and delis that sell pre-made naan bread. I’m not above buying Trader Joe’s brand myself. But the truth is, I’ve never had naan bread that I enjoyed as much as when I made it myself, from scratch. I just haven’t. So far as bread baking goes, the difficulty is on the lower end of the ladder. Because it is so easy, if you have the time and the inclination I STRONGLY recommend you go the extra mile and make these naans. You’ll taste the difference.

I’ve got to say, the shortened cook time and curry powder did nothing to skimp on the flavor or tenderness of the beef. Having the freshly baked, fluffy naan bread to dip into the sauce was the perfect accompaniment. I may or may not have *completely* cleaned the plate.

This meal is worth both the effort and the shortcut–so take both.

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Coconut Beef Curry with Garlic Naan

Recipe Adapted from Epicurious and Cook with Manali

Ingredients

For Beef Curry:

  • 2 lbs beef chuck, chuck roast or tri-tip, cut into large chunks
  • Low sodium soy sauce
  • pepper
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • 1 large yellow sweet onion, thickly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 3 tablespoons of finely minced fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup curry powder (preferably Indian)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 (13.5 ounce) cans coconut milk
  • 32 oz low sodium chicken broth (like TJ’s)
  • Rice, for serving

For Naan:

  • 450 grams (About 4 cups) all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil, plus more if needed for kneading
  • 2 large garlic cloves (grated or extremely finely minced)

For Garlic Butter to Brush Over Naan:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter (or ghee)
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

Directions

For Beef Curry:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the beef chunks on a sheet pan. Sprinkle both sides of the beef with a thin coating of soy sauce and use your hands to rub it into the surface. Sprinkle an even coating of pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder on top of the meat on both side.

Melt a few tablespoons of canola oil, or ghee in the bottom of a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over high heat. Sear the beef on both sides until deeply browned all over, 8–10 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

Deglaze the pan with a little bit of the chicken broth if need be, then add the sliced onion. Cook until softened and translucent, about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger cook just until fragrant. Add the curry powder and stir it together until it begins to stick to the pot, about 3 minutes.

Add the bay leaves, coconut milk and about 2 1/2 cups of the chicken broth. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer.

In a small bowl dissolve about 3 heaping tablespoons of all purpose flour in 1 cup of the chicken broth, stirring with a fork until smooth. Add it to the pot.

Season the sauce with additional pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and curry powder to taste. Allow it to cook for about 5-10 more minutes, until it reaches the consistency you like.

Add the beef back to the pot. Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil and place in the oven for 1 1/2-2 hours, until the beef is fork tender. Serve curry spooned over white or brown rice.

For Naan:

Place the warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer or another large bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water. Sprinkle one tablespoon of the sugar on top of the yeast. Allow it to sit for ten minutes, until proofed and frothy.

Place 3 1/4 cups of the flour in a medium size bowl with the salt and stir together with a fork.

When the yeast is proofed, add the vegetable oil and grated garlic to it and stir together with the dough hook (or a large spoon). Add the flour in about 1 cup increments, just until the dough begins to come together around the hook. (You may not need to use all the flour, this is dependent upon the time of year and your location). Once it has, turn off the mixer and scrape the dough out onto a clean work surface that you’ve sprinkled with flour (like a pastry mat or a smooth countertop). Use your hands to firmly knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic, about 10-12 minutes. You can use additional flour (about 1/4 cup at a time) if it’s still too sticky; I also prefer to rub my hands with canola, olive or vegetable oil before kneading and that helps a lot without having to add more flour.

(The dough is ready when you can stretch one piece of it out very thin, and it’s translucent enough to see through.)

Grease the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and a damp kitchen towel and allow it to rest in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 1/2 hours.

Turn dough out onto your clean work surface and punch down to deflate air bubbles. Divide it into 8 equal parts. Loosely cover them with plastic wrap and leave on the countertop to rest for about 10-15 minutes.

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter and add minced garlic to it. Set aside for brushing on top of the naans later.

Oil your hands and a rolling pin to gently stretch and roll the dough balls out into oval shapes (they don’t have to be completely flat like tortillas, these are meant to be a tad thick).

Heat an iron skillet over medium heat. (Cast iron is best, but not completely necessary) Lightly coat with ghee (or butter).

Cook until lightly blistered, puffed, and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Immediately brush with garlic butter when you remove from the skillet.

Keep naans on a rack in the microwave or the oven to stay warm while you cook the rest.

Sharing at this week’s Fiesta Friday #281.

Onion Naan

Onion Naan 1

So, it’s been over two years since I last made naan-style bread.

That’s a long time for me to wait to make something that I enjoy so much. But there was a pretty valid reason for it.If you’ve been following me and my blog for a while then you might remember this story. But if you haven’t been following and/or don’t remember then…what the heck? I’ll recap.

See, the last time that I did make naan, I kiiiiiinda started a fire in my oven.

Onion Naan 5

Oh, yeah. You read that right.

I made one or two pretty serious (and in retrospect, quite silly) mistakes and those mistakes ended up starting a fire. Not to worry. It wasn’t a huge one. No extinguisher was needed. 911 was not called. Everyone is fine. But it still kinda freaked me out.

Since it was my first time making naan I had done some research and seen that the majority of chefs and recipes recommended making it on a pizza stone in the oven with the heat cranked up nice and high–as in, as hot as it could possibly get in order to get those  lovely dark blistered spots on the surface of the naans.

Onion Naan 6

Since I did have a pizza stone, I figured that I should keep up with Joneses and go ahead and use it. The problem came around after the dough had had its final rest and it was time to actually cook them. I was supposed to brush them with melted butter, then plop them down on the pizza stone for about 1-2 minutes per side.

These…were not very good instructions.

In retrospect I really cannot believe I was so stupid. I mean…extremely high heat and melted grease just don’t typically mix well together in any capacity. I should’ve known better and known to make the judgment call to just brush the butter on AFTER the naans had done cooking. But I didn’t.

Onion Naan 7

So, what happened was, the butter was sliding off the naan and onto the pizza stone. This wasn’t such a big deal in the beginning. But then, it started sliding off the stone and onto the oven floor. The 500 degree fahrenheit oven floor. You see where this is going, right? After about the third or fourth naan, there was a mini flare up in the oven. I screamed. Then I shut the oven off, walked out of the kitchen and sat down in a chair to calm down.

About oh…fifteen minutes later I went back in the kitchen, feeling pretty calm and chill. I pulled out a non-stick skillet from the cabinet,  put it over the stovetop and  turned the heat on medium.

Then, I finished the rest of my naans. They were delicious. Fast forward two years later. I was making an Indian entree dish for the first time and I just knew that it wasn’t going to feel complete without some from-scratch naan bread to eat with on the side.

Onion Naan 3

I was prepared for it this time. I knew that I could probably go ahead and use the pizza stone again without having the same incident that I did before, but with summer fast approaching and a tiny kitchen through which the A/C doesn’t ventilate as well as it could, who feels like cranking up the oven to a million degrees? Not me. So I just went ahead and used my non-stick skillet to cook my naans once again. And as you can see, it didn’t force a sacrifice at all on getting the lovely blistered prints on the dough.

Onion Naan 4

Notes on the actual recipe: Dice the onions as small as you possibly can. When onions get VERY small and thin and are exposed to high heat, they sometimes disintegrate. This actually will work in your favor; the flavor of the onion becomes even more absorbed in the dough that way and it’s more tha flavor that you want and not so much a chunk of onion in your mouth. There is flexibility in using regular butter or vegetable oil in the recipe, but I’m going to go ahead and insist that you make an effort to use the ghee. As someone who has made it both ways, there IS a noticeable difference in the taste when using ghee as opposed to vegetable oil. Plus, ghee is something that can usually be found down the ethnic/foreign foods aisle of most standard grocery stores.

Notes aside, This bread is SO good. The onion flavor is just outstanding. I actually prefer this recipe to the one I’ve used before; the bread comes out VERY chewy and tender on the inside and also reheats VERY well in the microwave whereas sometimes leftover naans can have a tendency to get tough. Really good stuff here, guys.

Happy Fiesta Friday weekend #121 as well. Happy Memorial Day to all of us in the States 😉

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Onion Naan

Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit

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Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/4-ounce envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus more for surface and hands
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus more
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup whole-milk yogurt (not Greek)*
  • 2 tablespoons melted ghee (clarified butter) or vegetable oil plus more

*I didn’t have any yogurt at the time that I made this; instead I used 1 cup of buttermilk. It worked fine, you just may not need to use it all.

Directions

Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until an instant-read thermometer registers 100°. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in yeast and sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

Whisk 3 1/2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon salt in a large bowl to blend. Add yeast mixture, onion, yogurt, and 2 tablespoons ghee. Mix dough until blended but still shaggy.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead until a smooth dough forms, adding flour as needed (dough will be sticky), about 5 minutes. Lightly grease another large bowl with ghee, place dough in bowl, and turn to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and divide into 10 pieces. Using floured hands, roll each piece into a ball on a lightly floured surface. Cover with plastic wrap; let rest 10 minutes

Heat a large cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Lightly coat with ghee. Working with 1 piece at a time, stretch dough with your hands or roll out with a rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness. Sprinkle with salt. Cook until lightly blistered, puffed, and cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Wrap in foil to keep warm until ready to serve.