Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am partial to a good curry, and I love experimenting with spice. This Malaysian inspired dish is based broadly on a Rendang but I have added my own twist. It works perfectly with the buffalo, which becomes meltingly tender the longer you cook it. The flavours are stunning but it does require a long, slow cook so patience is required – however the results are worth it!
Number of people the dish serves: 2-3
Time: 4 hours cooking and 20 minutes prep
500kg buffalo braising steak, cut into 3cm chunks
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp turmeric
A thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled & roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 shallots, peeled & roughly chopped
1 red chili, seeds left in & roughly chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp. water
3 tbsp. ghee (or 1 tbsp butter & 1 tbsp vegetable oil)
2 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, bashed slightly using the side of a knife
2 star anise
4 green cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
160ml full-fat coconut milk
1 tbsp. palm sugar
1 tsp of fish sauce (or to taste)
1 – Make a paste by adding the coriander, turmeric, ginger, garlic, shallots, chilli, salt and water to a small blender or food processor. The paste needs to be a fairly smooth, so be patient and scrape down the sides of the bowl in between blends.
2 – In a medium sized, heavy based saucepan with a lid add 2 tbsps. of ghee (or butter and vegetable oil) and heat on the hob over a medium-high temperature. Once the ghee has melted add the buffalo in 3 batches, and brown all over. Once brown remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to a dish.
3 – Reduce the heat under the saucepan to medium and add the lemon grass, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon. Stir into the ghee and cook until fragrant (approx. 1 -2 mins). Remove from the pan and transfer to the same dish as the buffalo.
4 – Turn the heat down again to low-medium and add the final tbsp. of ghee. Add the spice paste you made earlier and fry until very fragrant and most of the moisture has evaporated (approx. 10 minutes). Stir occasionally to prevent it catching on the bottom of the pan. If it looks like it is starting to catch add a dash of water to loosen.
5 – After the spice mix has been cooked down, add the coconut milk and palm sugar to the pan. Finally add the buffalo, cooked spices and resting juices and give everything a good stir. Once it comes to a simmer reduce the heat to low and loosely place on the lid, allowing a small crack for the steam to escape.
6 – Cook very gently for one hour with the lid loosely in place, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t catch. After 1 hour place the lid on fully and cook for a further 2.5 hours, or until the meat is tender and the sauce has thickened and turned a rich, dark brown in colour.
7 – At this stage of the cooking you can leave the curry to cool and pop it in the fridge over night to allow the flavours to develop. If you can’t wait that long then skip straight to step 8.
8 – To finish the curry, add the fish sauce, crank up the heat to med-high and cook down for a further 10 minutes to thicken the sauce further, stirring constantly. The consistency should be fairly dry with a thick sauce coating the meat.
9 – Serve with garlic or coriander flat breads, basmati rice and an ice cold lager.
Juanita’s Cooking Tip:
This cut of buffalo is delicious but requires a long, gentle cook otherwise it can be very tough. However, given the time and attention it become meltingly soft.
Another top tip is to make this curry up to stage 7 and then place in the fridge overnight or up to 2 days. This allows the flavours to develop and permeate the meat – curry always tastes better the next day!
About Juanita Hennessey (MasterChef Finalist 2016):
Juanita was taught how to cook from an early age by her mother, an artist and great-granddaughter to the Maltese painter Giuseppe Cali. Her childhood meals where peppered with flavours from the Mediterranean and it was from there she developed her love of experimenting with new and exciting flavours.
Juanita Hennessey reached the final of MasterChef in 2016, wowing the judges, and public, with her creative flair and love of local, seasonal ingredients, especially game!
Since then Juanita has focused on food full time and has set up her own private dinning business ‘Fosbury Foodie’ cooking for clients in the comfort of their own home. She is also running a number of successful supper clubs, is a food writer for Wiltshire life magazine and has recently signed up as a new teacher for Vale House cookery school. She is also a regular on the Food Festival scene and loves nothing more than sharing her passion for cooking with other home cooks!
Her most recent venture The Game Girl brings her enthusiasm for game cookery to life. As part of this she is working with some very exciting organisations to get game back into the everyday British kitchen.