Recipe: Kerala Beef Curry with Coconut

Add this wonderful recipe to your repertoire of authentic Indian dishes; you’ll find a growing list on this blog here.

Beef isn’t something you’ll often find in Indian cuisine; lamb, goat, chicken and seafood are the norm, asides from all the incredible vegetarian options. However, beef is eaten in India by Christians and Muslims – and as the US and the UK are big beef eaters, this is a delicious way to use that ground beef in your freezer. If you prefer you can substitute lamb for the beef but you may want to cut back on the oil a bit.

This recipe comes from the Kerala region of India in the southwest and where coconut seems to be in just about everything. Generally speaking, the further south you go the hotter the dish but you can always reduce the amount of chili. I don’t recommend it though; this recipe has some heat to it but it really isn’t overwhelming.

It’s easy to make so don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients; some of which you may be unfamiliar with… just step outside the box! I strongly recommend that you measure and line everything up before you start. ‘Ground masala’ refers to a combination of particular spices that are blended with the coconut and added at the end.

If you don’t have access to an Asian Indian supermarket, you can order the spices online at very reasonable prices from A1 Spice World.

This is meant to be a dry curry so it’s best served with dishes that have a good sauce, such as Channa Dahl   – serve it with some cooling Raita on the side; Raita is a refreshingly simple relish of plain full or low-fat yoghurt, peeled and grated hothouse (English) cucumber, chopped mint leaves, a few lightly crushed dry roasted cumin seeds, a pinch of cayenne and sea-salt to taste. Play around with quantities until you’re happy, then cover and chill in the fridge for an hour or so to allow the flavors to develop.

Another refreshing side dish that isn’t specifically Indian but I think would go well here is a salad of ‘Watermelon with Onion and Mint’.

So, if you love beef, coconut and a bit of heat, then this is the curry for you – and the good news is that it can be made ahead and reheated.

Kerala Beef & Coconut Curry

Kerala Beef & Coconut Curry


(Serves 6)


¾ cup of unsweetened coconut flakes

For the ground masala:

4 teaspoons of ground coriander seed

1 teaspoon of ground cumin seed

½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper

¼ teaspoon of turmeric

¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper


2 tablespoons of vegetable oil (I prefer grape seed oil – great at high temps)

1 teaspoon of mustard seeds

2 dried red chilies

10 fresh curry leaves (can be bought in bulk and frozen)

1 tablespoon of uncooked long grain white rice

1 cup (240ml measure) of chopped onion

2 teaspoons of minced garlic

2 teaspoons of minced fresh ginger

½ teaspoon of chopped fresh green chili (Serrano or similar)

¼ teaspoons of fennel seeds, crushed in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder

1 ¼ lbs (half a kilo) of lean minced/ground beef, preferably organic

2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon of sea salt


Combine the shredded coconut and ground masala ingredients and add about ¼ cup of water (or more if needed), enough to make a moist ball. Set aside.

Heat the oil over a medium to high heat in a deep nonstick sauté pan.

Add the mustard seeds and immediately cover (you’ll hear why). When they’ve finished popping, add the dried chilies and curry leaves.

The curry leaves will crackle; after a few seconds add the uncooked rice and watch it puff up and turn white.

Add the chopped onion and sauté until soft then add the garlic, ginger and green chili. Stir for about 1-2 minutes then add the beef.

Stir frequently until the beef loses its pink color.

Stir in the coconut mixture, ground fennel, vinegar and sea salt. Continue stirring for about 5-8 more minutes or until the meat is cooked through and there’s no liquid left.

Adjust the salt as necessary and serve warm.

(Recipe from Maya Kaimal ‘Savoring The Spice Coast Of India’ cookbook)

About edibletcetera

I'm passionate about food; I cook, photograph, eat...then writes about it in that order. I'm also an occasional restaurant critic and caterer; a former newspaper columnist; author; social media/marketing communications; world traveler; dog lover; skier...and wit, (according to those who know me).
This entry was posted in Indian & Asian Cuisine, Meat. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Recipe: Kerala Beef Curry with Coconut

  1. Aha, curry! Great minds think alike 😉 Love curry leaves – I do as you suggest and always have a freezer full of them. I’ve started cooking with beef a bit more recently so will have to give this a try.

  2. Vigi says:

    I had this dish! I was lucky enough to have Jackie make it for me and it is so fabulous. It has complex flavors and if you are not a fan of hot spice, it will still taste delicious.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s