Saturday, October 27, 2012

Beef curry stew with peppers (Mchuzi wa nyama)

                                    Above is a finished dish of beef mchuzi on it's own.
Above is the beef mchuzi accompanied with some chapati (East African version). In one word-YUM!!!
The recipe I am about to share with you is one that could be found several times a week on the menu rotation at our house when I was growing up in Kenya. it is a very versatile dish and you can substitute the beef for cubed chicken (in which case it would be called "Mchuzi wa kuku"). Since this is the beef version, it is referred to as "mchuzi wa nyama". The word "mchuzi" used here basically means "stew/sauce/soup" in Swahili.
Mchuzi wa nyama is a much loved dish that can be found in any East African country under different names. Depending on which East African country you find it in, the spices and some of the ingredients used will vary. The recipe below is one that is used in Kenya. This dish is basically a curried beef stew, cooked with vegetables and peppers. The recipe follows:
-1 1/4 lbs beef, cubed (I like to make my cubes small).
-2-3 teaspoons vegetable/ canola oil for cooking.
-1 medium-sized onion, finely diced or finely sliced.
-2 large cloves of garlic,minced.
-1 teaspoon of ginger paste.
-1 teaspoon turmeric powder.
-1 tspn curry powder.
-1/2 tspn cayenne pepper.
-1 tspn coriander powder.
-1/2 tspn ground cinnamon.
-Salt to taste,
-1/2 red bell pepper (seeded and thinly sliced).
-1/2 green bell pepper (seeded and thinly sliced).
-1/3 cup frozen or shelled green peas.
-1/4 bunch of finely chopped cilantro.
-2 medium-sized carrots, peeled and diced.
-1 tspn cornstarch mixed with 1 tspn of water to thicken the stew.
-In a medium saucepan or wok (stir-fry pan), heat up the oil on medium-high and toss in the onions.
-Once the onions start turning golden, add the minced garlic and ginger paste and continue to simmer until the garlic starts turning to a golden color.
-Add the turmeric powder and let cook for 3 mins, stirring constantly.
-Add the curry powder and let cook for 3 mins, stirring constantly.
-Add the cayenne pepper and stir.
-Add the coriander powder and stir.
-Add the cinnamon and stir. Let it cook for an additional 5 mins.
-Add the green and red peppers and stir.
-Add the cubed beef at this point and stir so that the oil and spice mix coats the beef. Continue to do so until the beef begins to brown.
-Add the carrots and stir.
-Add the cilantro and stir.

**You will begin to notice the beef will release some juices into the pan (beef stock). This, combined with the spices, is what will make up the stew. **

-Add the peas into the pan and let simmer for an additional 10-15 mins, stirring occasionally. You can cover the pan at this point so that the steam that is trapped in the pan further softens the vegetables.
-After the 10-15 mins, check with a fork to see if the carrots are cooked. Also taste the meat to make sure that its tender and cooked. From this tasting, you will determine how much salt you would like to add to the food and do so at this point. If they carrots are soft/cooked, the dish should be ready to serve. If at this point your stew has cooked down more than you'd like, or if the consistency of the stew is not as thick as you'd like, add 1 tspn of cornstarch to a tspn of cold water and mix with a spoon. Pour this mixture into the pan, stir and let the stew simmer for an additional 5-8 mins. This will help thicken the stew. After 5-8 mins, remove from the stove. The stew is ready to serve.
To my Kenyan/ E-African friends:  I have dispelled the myth that you cannot cook a good mchuzi without tomatoes. I know, I know, my statement could be considered a form of sacrilege, but do not buy into that hype. This stew contains no tomatoes, but is still as delicious as one cooked with tomatoes! I actually prefer it this way. Sorry mom ;-x
**TIP: If you want more sauce in your stew, instead of water, you can add 1/2 -1 cup low-sodium beef broth that can be purchased at a grocery store. This is more flavourful than adding plain water to your stew**
This stew can be eaten with: rice, spaghetti, chapati (East African flat-bread), ugali (a thick cornmeal paste), Matoke (green, cooked bananas) etc. Enjoy!
Join me on my next video as i take your taste buds on a culinary safari. Love and good eats from my meza to yours!