Malaysian style beef curry with ancho chilli and a smashed cucumber salad

Some of the tastiest dishes we have eaten have been the spicy, tangy curries of all kinds that you find across Asia. The best Asian curries come rough and ready, often in the most makeshift of establishments, each distinctive to that owregion region of their own country. There’s good taste and irresistible charm right down even to the dishes Asian curries are served in- from the large colourful, beat-up bowls used in backstreet night-time bazaars to the delicate and ornate ceramic bowls served up in an airy palatial hotel courtyard. We have been lucky enough to travel to lots of places across Asia- which is literally our heaven on earth when it comes to immersing ourselves in another culture. In the Asia chefs use red meat much less frequently than their western counterparts. Red meat across Asia is a delicacy, not a staple, often used in thin strips to bring a noodle salad to life, or in a rich curry, a rare indulgence at certain times of year. This is the way it should be, in our opinion. To try and cut your red meat intake down drastically in the week- both for health reasons, keeping hat cut healthy, and also for ethical reasons. We’re firm believers in eating only meat which comes from high welfare, preferably organic sources. Grass-fed, free-range beef from animals allowed slowly to mature to the right age is unbeatable in its taste. Both of us being lucky enough to cook from the beef from our own farms, Jemima’s being white park cattle and Lucy’s being galloways- both original breeds of cows. Such robust flavoursome beef lends itself beautifully to slow cooking with fresh root vegetables and wintery spices such as star anise, cinnamon and cloves. And if you can get ancho chillies, we would highly recommend this addition to the curry- it’s the right amount of smokiness for this dish. An ancho chilli is a dry smoked poblana chilli, most commonly used in Mexican cuisine, which of course isn’t authentic to a Malaysian style curry… but trust us, its delicious! Will make these dark cold evenings into a cosy old spiced affair.


    4 shallots, thinly sliced

    2 inch ginger, finely grated

    5 garlic cloves

    2 carrots, roughly diced

    2 lemon grass stalks, bashed and roughly chopped

    1tbsp ground turmeric

    1 tsp ground clove

    2 cinnamon sticks

    2 star anise

    2 dry ancho chillies, ends chopped off and then softened in hot water for a few minutes and finely diced

    3 lime leaves

    800g beef, topside. Cut into 3 cm pieces

    500ml coconut milk

    1 tbsp maple syrup

    400g stock (chicken or vegetable)

    juice of 1 lime


    1 cucumber

    1 tsp sea salt

    1 tsp sugar

    2 tsp sesame oil

    1 tbsp rice vinegar

    2 tsp soy sauce

    2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

    2 tsp toasted sesame seeds

    1 tsp chili oil

    small bunch coriander chopped


    handful of fresh coriander to serve



Heat a pot over a medium heat, add a little oil (coconut oil is good) and add the shallots, ginger, garlic, carrots, lemon grass, ancho, cinnamon sticks and star anise. Cook for 5-10 minute until tender and fragrant and then add the ground spices, lime leaves and beef. Put the heat up and keep stirring for a few minutes.

Then add the coconut milk and stock. Leave to simmer, and then put the lid on for 3-4 hours until the beef is fall-apart tender.


Cut your cucumber into 4 long strips, bash with the back of your knife and cut it at a 45-degree angel into bite size pieces. Mix the dressing ingredients together and mix in a bowl with the cucumber


Serve the curry with steamed jasmine rice and the cucumber