Recipe & images: Shona Dey

This curry recipe has come from my mum’s book of recipes (which has been in use for the last 40 or so years). I am finally embarking on my project to cook and photograph the recipes from this wonderful book. This particular curry is simple to make (although it requires a wee bit of patience) but is totally authentic and has a lovely depth of flavour. It also goes very well with the Pulao Rice from the wonderful Charmaine Solomon (recipe included).

500g beef or lamb
2 red onions
2-3 fresh tomatoes (canned tomatoes don’t work as well)
3-4 cloves garlic
ginger – 1 square inch piece
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp salt
1-2 green chillis chopped (optional)

Grind together the onions, ginger and garlic in a food processor. Alternatively, finely chop the onion and grate the garlic and ginger.

In a pan dry roast the cumin & coriander for about a minute until you start to get an aroma but BEFORE it burns! Then add 2 tbsp of oil and the ground onions. Now this is the time consuming bit – sauté the onions on medium heat stirring often. The onions need to be sautéed until it just starts to caramelize and you notice the oil starting to separate from the mixture. This will take about 20-30 mins.

Next, add the diced tomatoes, salt, green chillis and diced meat. Stir for a few minutes then transfer the whole lot to a casserole dish and cook on 160°C for two hours or until the meat is tender. Check the dish about halfway through, just in case you need to add a teeny bit of water. However normally the juices from the tomatoes and meat are enough to give a nice thick curry. Add extra salt if needed and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.

NOTE – for an extra yummy flavour and if you have the time, thinly slice and shallow fry an onion until it just starts going brown. Drain excess oil and when the curry is ready you can toss it through or on top of the curry.


MATTAR PULAO – (Adapted from Charmaine Solomon)

1½ cups Basmati rice
1 tbsp oil
4 whole cloves
1 small cinnamon stick
3-4 cardamom pods, bruised
1 tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp ground turmeric
1½ cups frozen peas
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
3 cups hot water

Wash the rice 3 to 4 times until the water runs clear, then drain well. Heat the oil in a heavy wide saucepan and fry the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom and cumin seeds for 1 minute. Add turmeric and drained rice and stir over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add peas, salt and hot water. Bring quickly to the boil and then turn the heat to very low, cover with a well fitting lid and cook for approximately 20 mins. NB – on an electric stove, I just turn off the heat completely once it has come to a boil and let it sit and cook on the hot element. Uncover at the end of cooking time to allow steam to escape and use a fork to fluff the rice. Remove the whole spices and serve hot.

Shona is a photographer and foodie who also enjoys cooking and creating delicious food images. She is available for commercial and editorial work (for projects big and small). You can contact her via her website or FB page –


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