Back to the Recipes – Bengali Beef Curry

So now back to recipe writing! Otherwise I’ll never clear the backlog and make space for more exciting and new culinary creations:)! The emotional stuff will then seep into the blog as and when anyway.

Here’s a classic Bengali dish that I love and we have both at my parents in London and with my family in Bangladesh. Of course there’s a difference in the dish depending on who cooks it. Cooking is a tradition that’s gets primarily passed on from mothers to daughters so they are able to cook for their future hubbies (not a bad thing). I left home in my late teens and of course could not imagine the possibility of life without Bengali food. So my mum showed me a couple of my favourite dishes which I then cooked again and again. And if you can cook one Bengali dish then the others follow naturally. I cooked bengali chicken curry and my all time ever favourite dish in the world- bengali lamb chop curry with potatoes and tomatoes. Yumm!! 🙂 Of course only my mum’s version of the chop  curry is my number 1! She is after all the best cook in the world. Anyone can of course validly dispute this with their own mothers or fathers :-).

Anyway, here is a recipe of neither of the above dishes but a Bengali Beef Curry with potatoes (we love our meat curries with potatoes in my family).

When I cook Bengali dishes I tend to add a twist like kaffir lime leaves or galangal. Both of these I have never seen in Bangladesh. Neither have I seen pak choi or lemongrass. But as I love these ingredients, I throw them in when I feel like it. For an authentic Bengali curry dish, leave these out. There are also many supplementary spices that are used to really add another dimension to the flavour and subtle aromas from this rich multitude of deliciously combined spices. I’m always amazed how so many different flavours are wonderfully combined and nurture and complement each other for the taste buds to reach new sensual highs. That must have taken centuries to get it right. The supplementary spices can include: whole black pepper, mustard seeds,  fennel seeds, anise and more that I can’t think of right now.

I’m not using mixed curry powder in these recipes as they are not used widely in Bangladesh. Everyone uses freshly ground spices  like I have. We do use them in London though. I’ll write about this in the coming week.

bengali beef curry with potatoes

beef with fat

As you can see I love my beef with fat -and bones too but this time there were none!

lovely beef with lots of fat

Spices below: top left – Indian Cinamon, Top middle – star anis, top right – whole cumin, middle left – whole black peppercorns, middle right – whole cardamoms, bottom – whole coriander seeds

bengali spices

Below: the coriander, cumin and the black pepper ground

bengali spices

bengali spices

Picture above: top left is the garlic, minced ginger and minced fresh turmeric. The dark red in the middle is the pounded mexican chillies. Bottom right is the thai red chillies

chopped onions

Bengali Beef Curry


700g lean beef, diced

1kg beef with 40-50% fat, diced

½ green bell pepper roughly cut

1 pak choi cut into 3 pieces (optional)

1 clove garlic peeled whole

2 inch piece ginger minced

1 inch fresh turmeric root pounded in mortar & pestle

1 inch piece of galangal pounded in mortar & pestle (optional)

3 large onions roughly cut (approx. 600-800g in total)

12 kaffir lime leaves (optional)

5 bay leaves-use only if you don’t use the lime leaves!!

2 tablespoons of whole cumin dry roasted and ground in mortar & pestle

2 tablespoons of whole coriander seeds dry roasted and ground in mortar & pestle

10 dried mexican chillies pounded in mortar & pestle (optional)

3 dried chillies pounded with the mexican chillies (optional)

2 level teaspoons of minced Thai red chillies

2 star anise (optional)

3-5 cardamoms

½  tablespoon whole black peppers ground but leave 10 whole (optional)

2 inch piece of cinnamon broken into ½ inch pieces

6 whole cloves

1 level teaspoon yellow mustard seeds (optional)

1 level teaspoon turmeric powder

1 heaped teaspoon coriander powder


vegetable oil

fresh coriander chopped to garnish (very important!)


1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Throw in the minced garlic, ginger, galangal and turmeric root. If using turmeric powder then put in with other gound spices, not now! I used both as I noticed the minced fresh turmeric wasn’t enough.

2. Let fry for 2-3 minutes or when starting to brown, then add the chopped onions. Fry or another 2-3 minutes, stirring. I usually add salt at this stage. And then taste at the end and add more if needed.

3. Add the meat and stir. Now add the whole spices – lime leaves (or bay leaves for the authentic version), cardamon, cinnamon, whole peppercorns, cloves and mustard seeds. Now stir and let cook. We always wash the meat so there is liquid in the pot. Cook, stirring regularly until the liquid evaporates and the meat starts to fry.

4. Now is the time for the ground spice powders – cumin, coriander and black pepper. Stir for a minute before adding the minced Thai chillies and the pounded mexican chillies. Stir again for a minute or 2. Now add 1/2 litre of water and let cook for 20 minutes on medium heat. Check occasionally and add another 1/2 lire o water. Cook for another 20 minutes. Now add the potatoes. Let cook for another 20 minutes or until the potatoes are done.

5. Now add the bell pepper and let cook for 2-3 minutes before adding the pak choi. Let cook for another minute and then take of the  stove. Sprinkle the top with chopped coriander and your delicious curry is ready to be gobbled down with basmati rice.


The most important part of cooking a curry is getting the amount of spice mixture with the amount of liquid right. Too much liquid and not enough spice will make it watery and not rich in taste. Certain spices you can add slightly more of like cumin and coriander. But never add too much cardamons or you’ll bite into them and it’ll destroy that mouthful of food. The amount of chilli is personal taste. Paprika powder can be used additionally where it is available. I used pounded Mexican chillied as they are abundant in Cambodia and have the same effect-the beautiful dark orange red colour of the curry at the end. Mouthwatering! 🙂

frying onions
bengali beef curry with potatoes

bengali beef curry with potatoes

bengali beef curry with potatoes

Thank you for dropping by and have a wonderful day!! 🙂 🙂

Categories: Bangladesh, Beef, Recipes | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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