The Red Folder


Aubergine and Beef Curry receives rave reviews!

As you know by now a  recipe only goes in the Red Folder when it has been tried and tested and asked for repeatedly.  I recently supplied a little staff dinner for 35 and chose an aubergine and beef curry from my red bible.  It’s a Malaysian dish, the food from Malaysia is a rich blend of Chinese, Indian and of course, Malay.  Together these influences blend to make subtle and deep flavours which are not at once familiar.  For this reason,  I was worried about serving it.  I nearly went for a clay pot chicken which I have marked with a big red star at some point.

P1120744 (2)

This curry is equally at home as a midweek meal or a dish to impress dinner guests.

Glad I followed my heart, as it got wonderful reviews with renewed requests for the recipe. It has been adapted, my notes are everywhere, I can see from a recipe by Mridula Baljekah, dated 2001. The lined A4 also has watermarks of golden turmeric oil, so beware, the stuff stains. This is an authentic dish, served with plain rice, I am sure you can find many interpretations out there, nothing is new.  I serve my version with a coconut rice which a little old Malaysian woman showed me once.  Anyhoo, I have marked the tattered piece of paper with it’s own red star and also a blue star which means it has been recorded here and tucked it back in my Red Folder Try it, it has a mellow Thai feel is super easy to make with hardly any washing up.  My kind of food!


To serve 6 you will need

  • 60ml/¼ cup vegetable oil plus more for frying
  • 2 brown onions plus 2 extra for garnish
  • 2cm piece of fresh root ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 fresh red chillies
  • 5ml/1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 720g braising steak cut into even sized strips or cubes
  • 400g can of coconut milk
  • 300ml/1¼ cups water
  • 1 large aubergine
  • 5ml/1tsp tamarind pulp, soaked in 60ml/4 tbp warm water or 4 tbsp of tamarind concentrate
  • Salt and ground black pepper

I use a large wok, but any heavy based pan will work, I am sure you will get great results if you use prepared lemongrass, ginger and garlic.  There is much to choose from, I use ground turmeric the original recipe uses fresh turmeric root, we do what we can.

  1. Peel the ginger, slice and then cut into thin batons, peel and crush the garlic clove. Peel and thinly slice your two onions.  I peel and slice all four at this point dust half in corn flour and using the oil deep fry them in a wok, put on kitchen paper and leave to one side and try not to eat them.  Turn the heat down to medium and fry the remaining onions, garlic and ginger for about 5 mins until you can smell the ginger and everything is soft. You might need a little more oil. While this is happening, prepare the lemongrass.  Take away the outer leaves until you reach the soft-core, slice thinly the bottom part and crush the rest of the stalk and keep to one side. Prepare the chillies by cutting in half, removing the seeds and slicing thinly.
  2. Once the onions are soft, add the lemongrass, chillies and turmeric, mix well to combine and push to one side.  Turn the heat up and add the meat, stir until well browned.
  3. Add the water, coconut milk and bring to the boil, turn the heat down add about 1tsp salt and black pepper and the crushed lemongrass stalk, pop a lid on and allow to simmer for 1½ hours.
  4. Take the lid off and increase the heat until the curry is gently bubbling and cook for a further 10mins until the sauce thickens.
  5. Slice the aubergine and use a kitchen towel to pat dry and fry until they are brown on both sides and add to the curry turn the heat down and gently simmer with the lid off for another 10mins, stirring gently from time to time.
  6. Add the tamarind and taste you might need to adjust the seasoning and add more salt.

Serve with plain boiled rice and garnish with the fried onions.

This is a lovely dish to serve to friends and I will cook until step 4 then put the curry into an oven proof dish prepare the aubergine lay on top, cover with tin foil and pop in a low oven for an hour where it will wait patiently for you and your friends.  This recipe bulks up well too, just do the maths.


3 thoughts on “The Red Folder

  1. Thanks Elaine, sounds wonderful. Can’t wait to make it. Question – you mention using ground tumeric instead of fresh. Is that only for the 1st mention of tumeric? For the bit in Step 6 do you have to use the fresh/concentrated type?? thanks!


    1. Great, give it a go, I pop the taramind, in at step 6, turmeric only goes in step 2. Our local veggie shop sells the concentrate. ‘Cock Brand’, I kid you not!! Let me know how you go. x


      1. I’m such an idiot, I read both as turmeric however somehow through divine intervention I DID buy actual Cock Brand Cooking Tamarind!! Phew!!

        Liked by 1 person

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