This delicious Indonesian coconut and beef curry needs to simmer about three hours, which gives you plenty of time to get on with doing the one hundred things you have to do before people start arriving.
4shallots, roughly chopped
1¼-inchpiece gingerroot, peeled and roughly chopped
3red chilies, 2 seeded and all 3 roughly chopped
¾-inch piece galangal (if available, if not, add alittle more gingerroot)
1lemongrass stalk, outer layer removed and the rest roughly chopped
2¼poundsstewing or casserole beef
3½cups canned coconut milk
3kaffir lime leaves (fresh or dried), chopped or crushed
For the Tomato and Cilantro Salsa
3ripe tomatoes, quartered, seeded and finely diced
¼cucumber, finely diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1handfulcilantro leaves, chopped
juice of ½lime
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Put the shallots, garlic, ginger, chilies, galangal, if using, lemongrass, turmeric and salt in a blender or food processor and add ⅔ cup water. Blitz to a smooth paste.
Put the spice paste in a large wok or saucepan, add the beef, coconut milk and lime leaves. Top up with water if the meat is not quite covered. Stir well and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low and leave to gently bubble away, uncovered, 3 to 3½ hours, stirring occasionally.
Make the salsa by mixing together the tomatoes, cucumber, onion and cilantro. Keep in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve. (You can make this a several hours ahead, if you like.)
When the dish is ready, the coconut milk will have reduced, with the oil starting to appear on the surface, and the curry will be fairly thick. (This dish can be cooked the day before you plan to serve it, then gently reheated when needed.)
Drizzle the lime juice and olive oil over the salsa, season with salt and pepper and toss together.
Serve the beef hot with lime wedges, Thai rice and the tomato salsa.