Spicy Beef Stew


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


Appears in

Balance and Harmony

By Neil Perry

Published 2008

  • About

This is a sort of half-curry, half-stew or braise. It is easy to make and delicious, and gives you another way to make a curry, by simply boiling the paste in water. What could be easier than that?


  • 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) beef brisket
  • 2 tomatoes, cored and quartered
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons grated palm sugar (jaggery)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind water
  • 1 small handful of Thai basil leaves

Spice Paste

  • 3 candlenuts, roasted until golden, chopped
  • 6 long red chillies, chopped
  • 3 red shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 knob of ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1 knob of galangal, chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, tough outer leaves removed, chopped
  • 1 finger of fresh turmeric, chopped


Pound all the spice paste ingredients together in a mortar with a pestle until you have a fine paste. Or process the ingredients with a blender, adding a little water if necessary.

Put the spice paste, brisket, tomatoes, cinnamon, lime leaves and sea salt in a large heavy-based pot. Add enough water to cover the beef by about 2 cm (ΒΎ inch) and bring to the boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat and simmer very gently for about 2 hours, or until the beef is tender. Add the palm sugar, fish sauce and tamarind water, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Stir through the basil leaves to serve.