Simplest Beef Curry with Whole Shallots

This inviting take on beef curry, adapted from Ma Thanegi’s book An Introduction to Myanmar Cuisine, is also delectable as leftovers the next day. Be sure to allow for 90 minutes of cooking time so that the meat is meltingly tender.

Serve with rice and a vegetable with a tart or bitter edge, such as stir-fried dandelion greens or radicchio or broccoli rabe, to complement the sweetness of the shallots.


  • 1 pound stewing beef, cut into ¾-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons fish sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Fried Shallots
  • 8 small shallots (about 1 cup)
  • ½ teaspoon Red Chile Powder


Place the beef in a wide bowl, add the salt and turmeric, and mix with your hands, rubbing the flavors into the meat. Let marinate, covered, in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or as long as 4 hours.

If you have a mortar, pound the garlic and ginger to a paste; set aside.

Place a wok or heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the oil, then toss in the garlic and ginger and cook until softened, 2 or 3 minutes. Raise the heat to medium-high, add the meat, and cook for several minutes, stirring and pressing the meat against the hot surface of the pan. Add the water and fish sauce and bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer for 1 hour. Most of the water will evaporate; add more water if the pan is running dry. (The dish can be made ahead to this point, allowed to cool, and refrigerated for as long as 24 hours; add ½ cup water and bring back to a simmer before proceeding.)

Add the fried shallots and stir in, then add the whole shallots and chile powder and cook for another 20 minutes or so, until the shallots are soft and the meat is very tender.

Serve hot or at room temperature.