I’m extremely lucky to have some brilliant butchers close by and my favourite* has just had a refit. They’ve moved their butcher’s block into the centre of the shop which is a stroke of genius from a business point of view. Last week I didn’t go in meaning to buy a giant piece of brisket but when I saw it beautifully rolled on the slab next to a sharp knife and a smiley butcher ready to cut it to any size I wanted, I just couldn’t resist.
I then got home and tried to work out what on earth to do with it. In the end I remembered a delicious beef Madras curry that my husband had once cooked for a dinner party and decided to use those flavours with the brisket. It worked really well and my whole family, especially the children, loved it.
To go with the curried brisket I dug out an ancient recipe for red lentil dosa from my file of cut outs. I’ve had it so long that I could only just make out the faded type. Dosa are a type of Indian pancake made from fermented rice and lentils. They don’t contain any flour and so are perfect for anyone with a gluten or wheat allergy.
- About 2kg of unrolled beef brisket
- 20g of ginger, crushed
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 25g of ground coriander
- 6 teaspoons of ground cumin
- ½ a teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of chilli flakes (or more if you like it hot)
- 1 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
- 3 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar
- 1/2 a tablespoon of ghee or butter
- 2 onions roughly chopped
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- A knorr beef stock pot (or similar stock)
- 2 tablespoons of tomato puree
- Water to cover
Trim the excess fat from the piece of beef brisket and cut the string to unroll it if you’ve bought it rolled from the butchers.
Place all the ingredients for the spice paste into a small bowl and mix until smooth. Spread the spice paste all over the brisket, cover and leave to marinade in the fridge overnight.
Preheat the oven to 140oC fan.
Take a heavy casserole dish with a lid, add the ghee/butter and heat to a medium high heat. Sear the brisket for a couple of minutes on each side. Throw in the sauce ingredients, add enough water to cover the meat and bring the liquid in the pan to the boil. Cover with a disc of baking paper (touching the surface of the meat and liquid) put the lid on and cook in the oven for 5-6 hours until the meat is tender.
Remove the pan from the oven, but leave it covered with the meat inside for a good 30 minutes. Remove the beef from the pan and shred, removing any big lumps of fat. Add the beef back to the pan and give it a good stir to coat with the curry sauce.
You can serve the brisket warm or cold.
NOTE: This does make an enormous amount and fed our family of four generously for 4 meals. The first night we had it wrapped in a red lentil dosa (see recipe below). There were two meals with rice and we also ate it in home-made baguettes (my husband’s idea – a bit weird but delicious).
Red Lentil Dosas
Makes 8-12 dosa (I made 8 that were 22cm wide but if you use a smaller pan you will obviously make more)
- 300g of rice
- 100g of red lentils
- 500ml of warm water
- 2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
- 4 tablespoons of fresh chopped coriander
- Oil for frying
Place the rice, lentils and water in a bowl and leave to soak for 8 hours.
Pour the whole mixture into a food processor and blend until you have a smooth batter. Pour into a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to ferment for 24 hours at room temperature.
When you are ready to cook, stir the salt, turmeric and coriander into the batter.
Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium high heat and smear with a little oil. Add a ladle full of batter and smear around with the back of a spoon to fill the pan. Cook on one side for a couple of minutes until set. Drizzle a little more oil around the edges, then flip over and cook on the other side for about one minute.
Keep the cooked dosa warm in a low oven, wrapped in a damp tea towel whilst you cook the others. Serve warm.
NOTE: These are lovely filled with the curried brisket (recipe above) but they also go well with others curries and make a nice alternative to rice.