This recipe for bhuna gorur mangsho produces a dish that is rich and intense in character from the caramelisation of the onions and the frying of the spices. The meat cooks in its own juices, giving the dish a deep flavour. It is a classic Bengali dish.
The term bhuna means to fry or to brown. You cook the beef with spices and a little water, requiring constant stirring to prevent the spices or meat from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Cooking this recipe is time-consuming, but the result is delicious.
The taste of the beef bhuna depends on how long you cook it. The Bengalis call this process of frying and turning, adding a little water as required, koshano. In their mind, you cannot have too much koshano.
For the beef, you need something to stand up to long cooking and with a reasonably high fat content. The cooking technique will render out the fat, adding to the flavour. Chuck steak, cut into big chunks, say 5cm each, would be ideal. The size will help stop it from breaking down and the fat content is about right.
- wide pan with lid
- 1 kg chuck steak - cut into 5cm pieces
for the marinade
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 white onion - halved and sliced
- 1 tsp salt
- Place a small frypan on medium heat and add the dried Kashmiri chillies, cumin, coriander and fennel seeds, the cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves and mace. Toast the spices until they become aromatic then remove them from the heat. When cool enough to handle grind to a fine powder. Set aside.
- Make a smooth paste of the onion, ginger and garlic, adding as little water as possible.
- Place the meat in a bowl, then add the ground spices, the paste and the turmeric. Mix well, massaging the marinade into the meat. Cover and allow to marinate overnight.
- Heat oil over medium heat in a pan. Add the sliced onion, sprinkle with the salt and fry for about ten minutes, or until the onions turn a golden brown. Be careful not to burn the onions.
- Add the meat with the marinade and any juices to the pan. Mix well and fry for five minutes or until meat is browned all over.
- Add 100ml water, mix well and cover the pan. Cook on low heat for 20 minutes, or until the water and any moisture released by the meat has dried out.
- Remove the lid, increase heat to medium and start to fry the meat, stirring frequently. To avoid burning as it dries, add 50ml water and mix well. Fry the meat, stirring often, for 30 minutes, or until well-cooked and browned. Add more water, in 50ml amounts, as required, without making the dish too liquid. The dish should look dark and be quite dry by this stage.
- Add enough water to the pot to just cover the meat. Replace the lid and cook for twenty minutes, or until the meat is tender and the gravy comes to desired consistency.
- Reduce heat to low and add the coriander stalks and lemon juice. Mix well, but carefully so that you do not break up the meat. Turn off the heat, sprinkle with garam masala and serve.
- Make sure the beef is in big pieces. You want something large enough to stand up to long cooking.
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