The Bare Necessities of Cooking Beef

Hartman de Souza curates recipes for beef around the noble and upright theme of rejecting Hindutva as an intrinsically Indian way of looking at the world

Cowards die many times before their deaths.
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear,
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come…
(Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar)

Just for fucking eating beef???

You killed Akhlaq, you whipped Dalits
You lynched old men and young boys
You sat on vigil to catch the Cow Catchers??
You call it your Mother but mount a
Bull outside your temples.
I have a mother,
I am happy she is human.

You call yourself cowherds, you are only
Cowards wagging the tail of bovine destiny,
The cow is your Mother, the monkey – Pradhan Sevak cum Footsoldier.
The elephant – Uncle, the rat – Aunt.
You are just Fatherless.

Gandhi drank goat’s milk
To steer him away from sex;
The camel’s milk is nutritious too,
Why not mix cow’s, goat’s and camel’s milk
And make masala chai?
For those lactose intolerant
Tetrapacks of chilled cow’s urine to wash down
Bites of fresh cow’s dung.

As the world sleeps and
India awakes to its breakfast, lunch and dinner
Make sure your kitchen, dining table and toilet,
Especially your toilet, is free from beef extracts,
Throw away your shampoos, soaps and detergents.
If having eaten beef steak on Qatar Airlines
Make sure to use the airline toilet
For redemption brush vigorously with Patanjali tooth-powder,
And get dentally flossed or
They will come toothpick out remnants of beef
So that you are toothless like them
And still if you don’t say
Gau Mata ki Jai
You will be lynched from a tree.

PS. If I am lynched
Please feed me to the Lions,

I want to be
Made in India

Cowherds or Cowards, a poem by Bishweshar Das.

The machinations making beef a meat that cannot be eaten by Indians who do not venerate cattle are of recent origin – like banging the drums of war to go do battle with Pakistan – and are merely intended to drum up support for the Hindutva right wing before the various state elections start coming up.

What galls me is the seemingly God-given right they have taken upon themselves – almost Zionist and Salafist in its zeal – to see themselves as Hindu. What would they have had to say about the cynical, materialistic Charvaka ‘sages’ who poured scorn on the Brahmin priests, telling them that keeping food for the dead was as successful an enterprise as one of them sitting on top of a tall tower and eating from a plate that was kept on the ground??

When philosophers of old rebutted an argument of another in debate, before the rebuttal itself they were expected to elaborate the opposing opinion better even than the opponent – before proceeding to expound their own. Do our one-dimensional, woolly-headed, Arnab-ized Hindutva ‘intellectuals’ have the integrity, wisdom, openness, and even gumption to do this – or are their only trump cards a pack of lies?

Beef Market, Iewduh, Shillong Photo: Whitemonk
Beef Market, Iewduh, Shillong
Photo: Whitemonk

As history shows us, till today, there is and never was a problem with Hinduism – there was, and still is, a problem with the fucking caste system. Guess who believes in that shit?As my Hindu father-in-law said to me after they systematically murdered men he both knew and respected, “There are three kinds of Hindus: Practising Hindus, Retired Hindus and Fake Hindus”.

The goons we are dealing with are Fake Hindus. Never forget that.

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On that happy note we can move into the joys of cooking beef, and then eating it, savouring the taste, the subtleties of its fragrance, and seeing food as something that brings people together around a table or mat – where they can forget their differences and eat together.

Although there is one small impediment in the way that needs to be set aside: which one could say has to do with the ‘attitude’ one brings to the kitchen.

A young friend who really likes my cooking once introduced me to his equally young friend as a ‘chef’. I tore into him, poor guy. That’s a bad word in my recipe book. Hate it! Makes cooking into a bloody job, something that you have to do – more like a shitty ‘style statement’.

You say “Chef” to me and I don’t think of cool guys who also know how to cook, but this NRI guy on TV, who’s very cute, very articulate, very camera savvy, who’s studied ‘cuisine’, ‘fine-dining’ and what not – who’ll visit an old woman in Konkan Maharashtra who makes a mean pohe for him – then go back to the US or wherever, and cook the same thing with a ‘twist’, stir-frying shrimp in a green chilly and fresh coriander paste (also the old woman’s recipe) nestling it under the pohe. Then he parades it on a plate costing an arm and a leg, garnishes it with a sprig of parsley, lightly scatters organic corn flakes over it, and calls it ‘Spiced Indian Shrimp in Traditional Maharashtrian Rehydrated Beaten Rice’.

So I’m just a cook, a simple good-at-what-he-does cook. In fact, if the truth be told I enjoy cooking much more than I like eating. I am quite happy eating my meal by tasting the food from someone else’s plate. I can cook for carnivores, herbivores and everybody else within – or even radically outside – that broad spectrum.

Hartman's thai meatball curry with coconut rice and stir fried salad Photo : Phoebe Pereira
Hartman’s thai meatball curry with coconut rice and stir fried salad
Photo : Phoebe Pereira

The bottom line is if I don’t cook at least once everyday something bad happens to my head. I brood, I become a grouch. If I have to live alone for instance the problem is particularly acute because the only thing I can cook for myself is an omelette sandwich that no matter what I do, ends up tasting like soggy newspaper. After two days, I can’t stand the sight of omelettes, so I shift to curd-rice and pickle for the next two days, then back to omelettes until life comes back to normal.

Now before you confuse me with some new age, yoga-doing holistic cook who promises you salvation through cooking – and who just happens to buy, cook and serve beef to other people – let me tell you that cooking – or wanting to cook – or needing to cook, will not necessarily make you a happier and more contented person. We live in a reign of discontent and unhappiness. Cooking will only make the brooding more tolerable, and the bitterness less tart.

Even in my darkest moments I can also honestly say that I cook with love – both for my extended family and others I love. When skinny people I cook for put on needed weight, when those overweight slim down without any overly rigorous diet, when people wipe their plates clean with their fingers, then lick their fingers and say “lovely!”, it is a sign that both my love and my food are being appreciated. I am made soul-complete.

I never, never cook for people I dislike.

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Before we get to the point where we actually begin salivating with the prospect of cooking and eating beef, a short aside on the kind of meat you cook:

If you live in the motherland of the Cow, always try and get tenderloin because it’s easy to cut, easy to cook, and if seared properly, able to retain its juices without being overdone; because it tastes damn good and will taste even better thanks to the recipes following.

If you get another cut of beef without bone, make sure it is nicely marbled, that is, with thin slivers of fat patterning the meat. Some people like beef that has the fat clinging to it, I don’t quite like the taste or even texture of beef fat – it doesn’t have the same taste or feel for me as pork or sheep fat.How-To-Pick-The-Perfect-Cut-Of-Beef-11

(Interestingly, in the UK though beef fat has a fascinating by-product now making a comeback, so one can just imagine the plight of all the Hindutva johnnies now surfacing there too.)

Please remember to cut the meat into bite-sized chunks, or a chunk that can be easily torn into two by the piece of roti or bread or cut apart with fingers or fork to take to one’s mouth.

This is particularly important if you happen to be eating beef in front of a liberal-minded, inclusive vegetarian friend. It is not a delicate sight watching someone lug a quarter kg of cooked beef to his or her mouth and then tearing into it with something close to vengeance. For reasons of etiquette, protocol and what not therefore, bite-sized pieces please…

If you happen to invite a vegetarian extremist to a meal only to be informed that you will have to cook a pure vegetarian meal and not be allowed to serve cooked dead animal to the other guests, insist, with the stubbornness, zeal and fervour of an RSS acolyte, to be the only person on the table eating a rather special kind of steak. It’s a great, politically incorrect, but effective way of holding on to your beef.

If you don’t manage to get undercut or tenderloin, and you don’t want to spend too much time staring at the pot bubble and boil, then use a pressure cooker. Or – as you will soon note – get yourself a good sound system.

It is difficult to get tenderloin in many places, so all the recipes following – bar one which demands tenderloin – are for a pressure cooker; where the rule is that as soon as the first whistle sounds on a high flame, lower the flame to its lowest and keep the cooker on for anything between 10 to 15 minutes. Open the lid when the pressure goes – if the meat’s still tough, like biting through a rubber flip-flop, check the curry levels, add a katori of water, and keep on for another 10 minutes.

If it’s still not cooked yet – and now tastes like a flip-flop that you can just about bite through – check with your local butcher that he’s not selling you old donkey or something…

The Recipes

As you will no doubt note, the recipes for beef have been ‘curated’ around the noble and upright theme of rejecting Hindutva as an intrinsically Indian way of looking at the world.

I proudly unravel to the Indian beef-eating public therefore, the recipes of two very old friends of my family, Javed Anand and Teesta Setalvad (both of whom are very well known – and as you will shortly see embedded in their recipes – have never ever been silent with their distaste and disgust for those who dare to narrow this country’s horizons, or those indeed who threaten them as they have done just a week or so back.

How shameful is the spin-doctoring that goes on even as this is being written??

The third person figuring in this fledgling cook book for beef lovers, Rajiv Tiwari, may not be that well known except among some of us – coincidentally by people like Javed and Teesta and many who are still fast friends and who were suspicious – even then – of what the Long Khaki Trousers could do.

Tragically, Rajiv died before the age of the internet could visit us. We all knew him as a dashing, handsome, articulate, passionate young man madly in love with the woman he would later marry. We also loved him because he could write his ass off, and did so with great distinction. Today if what he wrote for three major newspapers and a news agency were online, more would have known how prescient he was in identifying the Hindutva gang when he did. He’s in very good company, we’re proud to have known him. I cook for him and his wife, also a great unafraid writer, and they both sit on the welcoming table with us.

For reasons of sentiment, and nothing else, the first recipe is named after my mother, Dora, who thankfully I never got any recipes from. I learnt by watching her in the kitchen. Cooks who are just cooks and not chefs, spurn writing recipes. They exchange recipes like they would stories. When I hear (or read) a recipe, it’s like I am reading a play, the characters come to life, my senses are sharpened. Damn exact measurements. Delete the recipe after you’ve read it, visualizing the process and the final product. Run your own TV programme in your head. This is not fucking McDonald’s, seek recourse in that magical word ‘andaaz‘ (And just in case you’re interested, the Italians have a similar expression (rather than just word) that guides their cooks — quanto basta) which only means that you embrace your cooking with a flourish and fling ingredients into the pot with a sense of abandon and joy.

Dora herself may have got the recipe from an English neighbour in Embu, Kenya, a Mrs. Gibson, the veterinary doctor’s wife – and then tinkered with it by adding the ginger-garlic paste and the green chilly. The English version would have been bland for most Indians. So feel free to tinker with it to spice things up a bit. It could then become a kind of ‘Goulash‘. Pomo-llectuals will be happy to note that post-colonial Kenya has more than kept apace with its fascination for beef.

Now Kenya, as some of you may not know, also has some of the world’s best beef. In fact you can now buy it at fairly exorbitant rates at one of the posh ‘gourmet’ shops in our cities. In fact, in really spiffy ‘fine-dining’ restaurants in any one of five cities (where gau rakshaks are banned from entering because that will offend foreign well-heeled beef-eating investors), you can cut and bite into a steak imported from either Australia, Kenya, Argentina, and of course the famous and very expensive Kobe beef from Japan.

Kenya also had a sizeable Indian population, many of whom were pure vegetarian Patels and Shahs from Gujarat, from whence comes a vintage Kenyan joke:
“Why didn’t India qualify for the FIFA World Cup?”
“Because every time they got a corner they built a shop!”

Gau rakshaks of course had no presence in Kenya and still don’t. Maybe it was because Kenyan cattle, by virtue of not being in the Motherland, were intrinsically ‘black’ and did not therefore have any special spiritual powers like cows from this country…

For that matter you do not find find gau rakshaks in the US either, where, the cattle there being American breeds, Hindutva Americans have no problem with right-wing Texan billionaires who chomp on their 2 lb T-Bone Steak

but for now though, let’s head my mum’s way:

Dora’s Beef Stew

Bare necessities

1 kg Indian beef cut into bite-sized cubes and seasoned with salt and coarsely ground pepper and onto which has been evenly sprinkled ½ cup of maida or straight run flour;
1 level teaspoon sugar;
3 large onions diced the size of a finger nail;
3 tablespoons of freshly ground ginger-garlic paste;
2 green chillies, de-seeded and chopped very fine;
4 large very ripe tomatoes grated to a pulp;
2 large carrots grated fine;
2 or 3 large potatoes chopped into bite sized cubes;
3 stalks of fresh celery, finely chopped and finally:
250 gms of butter (That’s Dora for you!)

Dora's beef stew Photo : Phoebe Pereira
Dora’s beef stew Photo : Phoebe Pereira

Process and Music

Dora always listened to the radio when she cooked. It took me years to figure out she used the song playing as a stopwatch, lifting the lid to look into the pan when the song ended. And that I’m afraid is what I always try to do when I cook, listen to music. If the wife and kids are out of the house, then it’s pretty loud too. I have a fondness for jazz singers, either male or female – although I have no hard and fast rules, because unlike the right-wing brigade, I accept that the world is changing.

Just Jazz works best with most food, with the blues, reggae and bossanova coming in tied a close second. Senior Rock music – Stones, Beatles, Yardbirds, Clapton, Santana are good as also Red Hot Chilly Peppers and Nickleback, and as you’ll figure out, one particular song of theirs. Avoid Coldplay, it will make your accompanying salads turn wimpy. Green Day can work, Tool is dicey, play Opeth and Gojira in their Heavy Metal phase at your own risk, but willingly play some of their acoustic, unplugged stuff. Chase arseholes like Yanni, Honey Singh, Kenny G and Justin Bieber the way down the road armed with a cricket bat.

So heat the pan on a high flame, bung in your butter and the sugar and as soon as it froths, turn the flame as low as it can go. One of Dora’s favourite singers was Bing Crosby and growing up I remember her singing Crosby’s ‘A Slow Boat to China‘. In fact, after my dad had had a few drinks, they’d sing it in duet too, using lovely harmonies.

Burning the sugar till it starts to sputter and turn a very, very dark brown takes a lot of time. I’ve always liked Bing Crosby, hated this duet Rosemary Clooney, who’s a little too ‘white’ for my liking, not like Ray Charles and Betty Carter for instance.

If the sugar burns so much that a noxious smoke bellows out of your pan, you may have made a slight error of judgement, you let the music get to you. Which is why maybe I didn’t link another version

As the sugar turns a very dark brown, now put in the diced onion and the ginger-garlic paste and stir till the burnt sugar shows at the edges of the onion. Keep covered with the flame low so that the onion browns and the ginger-garlic paste begins to stick to the bottom.

You could listen to this, when that’s cooking.

Just before the song ends, put in the beef pieces coated with flour, put the flame up, and stir fry the beef. The flour from the beef must burn a bit and turn brown. Don’t worry if it sticks. Now put in the tomato purée, and grated carrot, stirring the pot to melt the burnt flour and onion that may have stuck at the bottom. Now put in the diced potatoes and chopped celery.

Add some water (although strictly speaking you would add a rich stock made from some beef bones) so that the beef is not quite covered, close the lid and put on the weight, leave for ten minutes on a low flame after the first whistle. Without a pressure cooker, you would probably need about 30 minutes on a low flame, less if you’re cooking tenderloin and would have to taste the beef to figure out if it’s cooked. If you’re using a pressure cooker, close the lid and listen to this. Dora also used to like Ella Fitzgerald, so if you listen to this, it will get you to the point where you can check the stew and see it’s ready to bring to the table.

Serve in bowls with some nice crusty bread that you break off into chunks and pile on a plate. Makes a full meal by itself. Would go well with the silky tone of this great tenor-sax legend.

Javed Anand’s Beef Stew

The credit for teaching me this recipe goes to a man who in turn got it from his grandmother. I’ve know him for many, many moons and join the hundreds of his friends who will drink with him any day of the week because he has never been afraid of being the last man standing;

Bare Necessities

1 kg beef cut into cubes, then marinated in curd that just about covers the beef;
4 large onions cut into fine strips;
About four tablespoons of freshly made ginger and garlic paste;
4 large dried Kashmiri chillies and 2 small smooth-skinned more fiery dry chillies;
5 cloves, a big stick of cinnamon, 5 cardamoms, some peppercorns, some methi, dhania and jeera seeds roasted and ground into a very fine powder.

Javed's beef stew with phal Photo : Phoebe Pereira
Javed’s beef stew with phal Photo : Phoebe Pereira

Process and Music

Heat oil till its really hot, then lower the flame to the end, and slow fry the cut onions, ginger-garlic paste and red chillies. When Javed cooked this for my wife and me in New Delhi many, many moons ago, after we had gone to Nizamuddin and come back with some really nice tenderloin, I had this wonderful lady playing on our tape-recorder. Great to make onions brown well. This track is short, but you can listen to another version of the same song…that should get the onions going well…and then of course, after you stirred the pot a couple of times, this amazing woman from Cape Verde, ought to see your onions through…

The onions will brown, take the colour of the red chillies and turn into a thick mushy paste, some of it sticking to the bottom. When that happens don’t panic, keep stirring it, scraping off the burning or burnt crusty bits at the bottom and with a knife taking this from your spatula and putting it back in the pot. Then add the beef marinated in curd and stir till the onion and beef and curd mix. Then add the ground spices, gently swirling them into the gravy forming. Don’t add water, put lid back on and cook on a low flame. While that’s happening the kitchen can turn into a lonely place that will only become kind when others enter to eat. So brood, that’s never made the beef tough…

When it’s ready, serve with tandoori roti or naan, and a side-plate of onion rounds and mint leaves soaked in lime juice and sprinkled with some salt, jeera powder, ground pepper and amchur. Can be eaten with rice too, but may need a dal accompaniment.

Javed Anand’s Turki Kabab and Phal

To Javed must also go the next two recipes, also got from his grandmother and both extremely simple to make, the first being subtle and tasty, the second, tart and spicy. Can be eaten together too, although Phal by itself can also go with plain rice and a sexy dal.

Bare necessities:

(NB: This must be made with tenderloin!)

Let’s start with the Turki Kabab;

1 large tenderloin (could be a kilo and a half), slightly less than half of which is kept aside for the Phal;
Freshly made ginger and garlic paste;
Ground pepper;
Rounds of potato;
Rounds of tomato (both cut fairly thick);
Two green chillies finely slit and chopped as finely as posible;
Salt to taste.

For the Phal;

The bit of the tenderloin that you have kept aside;
A freshly ground paste of ginger, garlic, three or four green chillies, a bunch of fresh mint and fresh coriander, juice of a lemon, and some salt and pepper.

Javed's turki kabab Photo : Bishweshwar Das
Javed’s turki kabab Photo : Bishweshwar Dasip

 

Process and Music

Assuming you have a two burner stove, we can cook both these dishes together. You will need two stirring bowls. Into one, for the Turki Kabab, put in slices of tenderloin, like thin steaks, and of course, listen to music so that the meat feels happy. Into this now mix all the ingredients for Turki Kabab, barring the potato and tomato rounds. These go last.

Now in the casserole or pan that you are cooking this in, layer the steaks in the pan, one on top of the other so that the whole pan is covered. On top of all this dribble some olive oil, allowing to go to the bottom , then dribbling some more. Here’s some more music.

On top of the meat now place the rounds of potato so that they evenly cover the meat. Sprinkle some salt. Now place the tomato rounds in the same way so that the potatoes are covered. Put the pan on the lowest it goes, and take a cigarette break or sip your rum or whatever. Literally, forget about it for a good twenty minutes. If you panic, you’ll frighten the meat and make it contract. Listen to the music instead…

Ah, but I err…forgot about the Phal. Not too worry.

Cut the remaining tenderloin into small bite-sized pieces and put them in the stirring bowl together with the paste for it. Now put this too in the pan or casserole you’re cooking in and dribble some olive oil and mix it well into the meat. Cover the lid and forget about everything, well not everything, you need to sit at least 15 minutes before you go and lift the lid and poke things into it. The juices will come out of the meat and the dishes will slowly cook. Music is wonderful when you are cooking.

Both dishes are ready when the liquid has disappeared. The Phal should be fried on a high flame right at the end so that the masala coats the pieces of meat. Then sit back, take a break and watch this woman. Serve with naan and a spicy Indian salad of your choice. Can go very well with the Afghani flat-bread now so easily available in parts of Delhi. And of course, have another rum, relax. Never be in a hurry to eat, especially when the food is good.

When I cooked this for the actors of the Space Theatre Ensemble we were at at our friend Bishweshwar’s lovely warm flat. It was the day of the ‘surgical strikes’ with the world and its mother wanting to know did they actually happen or was it just the BJP milking publicity, and Bish of course, deadpan, telling us that the surgical strikes were like a piles operation, that the doctor told everyone it was successful but the patient wanted to keep it a secret. Pakistan’s denial, he told us, was totally justifiable.

Then he went and mulled about writing the poem that makes the epigraph for this essay.

That accounts for the knives being stuck in the Turki Kabab in the accompanying photograph. It was an on-the-spot installation to be photographed and then devoured, titled very simply, ‘Surgical Strike’. Can be eaten listening to this, unless you want to take a break and check the weather.

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Teesta, when we knew her many moons ago, had a great calender in her kitchen. It had space on it every single day of the year to write down a recipe. She lived in an open house as she still does. Differences – except with the right wing goons – have never been allowed to flourish. The rule of thumb in her house was when we visited, we had to cook something on one of the days and write the recipe down in her calender. Each time we visited to stay with her, we duly obliged. Here below, is one of her recipes. The first time I ate it, having watched her cook it, I couldn’t imagine it could taste so good and so simple to make. “You know what?” I told her, “this is an amazing Guju Beef Curry!” and there the name stood:

Teesta’s Guju Beef Curry

Bare Necessities

1 kg of beef cut into small cubes.
Three or four large onions, diced small;
Four large ripe tomatoes, grated into pulp;
Two long green chillies (not the spicy ones!) chopped up;
Four teaspoons of freshly ground ginger and garlic paste;
A tablespoon of jeera seeds;
A tablespoon of mustard seeds;
Half a teaspoon of methi seeds;
A handful of fresh curry leaves.
(I had the same reaction. I said to her “That’s it???”)

 

Teesta's beef curry Photo : Phoebe Pereira
Teesta’s beef curry Photo : Phoebe Pereira

Process and Music

Now here’s the great part, this is the kind of dish you need to stand in front of, giving it your full attention, for just the opening five minutes, then you reduce the flame to its lowest and check it every ten minutes or so.

Great dish when you also want to listen to music although I don’t remember Teesta and I listening to music when she cooked this in Delhi. We spent a lot of time talking. Javed and her hadn’t started Communalism Combat yet – but this was just after the ’84 riots when all us already knew just how easy it was to engineer a riot. The right-wing hoodlums in Gujarat of course had not yet started harassing her

This right wing takes great pride in flaunting the ‘Gujarat model of development’. And yet, on the other side, there is a damning indictment. For close to two decades, Dalits have been demanding that caste be equated with racism. From the government’s side come fear to admit something we have always known, that the upper castes are racist. In spite of the length of the shared histories and the commonality of the crimes, one gets instead a barge meandering on a river, when the history seems to suggest otherwise.

How much more do they want to know, so that they can see that the life of the Dalit in India is not that different from the life of the black people in 19th and 20th Century America. How are the fucking Ku Klax Klan different from the Gau Rakshaks??

If you too thought all those dark thoughts, making the jumps over the years while you were cutting the onions, grating the tomatoes, making the ginger-garlic paste, and chopping the chillies – you can assume that that’s been effectively done. Some kind of sublimation perhaps, and now come your five minutes in front of your pressure cooker before we turn on the music.

Heat it up really hot and put in about two tablespoons of oil. Lower the heat and put in the jeera and methi seeds till they brown, then add in the mustard seed, and almost immediately, the ginger-garlic paste that you fry till it is just about to brown too much! It will begin separating in the oil, moving away into smaller globules slowly browning.

Then bung in the chopped onion and chilly, give the stuff inside a stir, put a lid on, and listen to some music, just enough for you to get up again and lift the lid and give things a stir. This is really cool woman, who, when she was in music school, studied guitar and composition and did her final year study on Jimi Hendrix. In fact, you could say she loved his music.

Check the onions now. If they are not burnt at the edge and uniformly changing colour to a brown, put the lid back on and listen to her again, because she herself played a very mean guitar.

Now after this song, if everything in the cooker is burnt a very, very dark brown and you can’t see the inside for the smoke, it means one of us has got the timing wrong. If, however, you’ve checked the onions and they have browned and turned into a nice gooey mess, put in the tomato purée, stir a bit till everything mixes together and you can see the mixture bubbling, then put the lid back on and listen to this, it ought to take you to the point you lift the lid again.

The mixture inside the pot must shed itself off liquid and actually start browning. This will happen when you can see the oil separating from the mixture. If it hasn’t don’t bother, there’s always time for another song, a soundtrack from a very interesting film.

If it’s now totally dry, some parts of the mixture almost burning, now put in the meat and give it a good stir on a low flame till the juices start to flow out of the meat. Taste for salt, then cover with a lid and read this lovely little piece on the film from the soundtrack above. And while doing that, maybe welcome the company of some amazing women.

Can be served with rice in which case you make more gravy, or (as I did in the photograph) a little less gravy and served with roti, a sexed-up moong dal and some additional spice.

Beef a la Rajiv Tiwari

Rajiv cooked this meal for a small get-together he had over rum. There was my wife, me, and the late Praful Bidwai, who has also been invited to this beef party. Praful was prescient till the end – even though I have the small crib that he’s eaten food I’ve cooked in two different cities, but never cooked for me so I couldn’t include one of his recipes in this fledgling anti-Hindutva Beef cookbook.

As a cook Rajiv was a purist, he knew exactly what he was doing and why he was doing it. In Mumbai once, many, many moons ago, he cooked me a Goan fish curry, and fried stuffed mackerels. Now this is as cheeky as you can get, because common friends had already told him that I cooked both really well.

I tasted both, some rice and the curry, a bit of the stuffed mackerel. I repeated it. He looked at me, lovely but mischievous smile on his face.

“It’s fucking amazing,” I told him.

We passed effortlessly into that space where cooks become storytellers and exchange recipes…

Bare Necessities

1 kg beef cut into cubes and rubbed with salt to taste;
Four onions cut into long thin strips;
Two green chillies chopped fine;
Two tablespoons of freshly ground ginger and garlic paste;
A heaped tablespoon of jeera seeds;
A heaped tablespoon of saunf seeds.
(That’s it, you ask??? That’s what I said too, after I tasted it and he told me the recipe!)

Process and Music

While you chopping and grinding, jiggle continents, keep yourself open to new tastes. Dry roast the jeera and saunf till both brown and then give it a go in your dry grinder or pound it to a fine powder with a hammer or whatever.

Now comes the easy part. The slow frying of the the chopped onion, ginger-garlic paste and chopped onion. Ideally, like Rajeev did, you fry this in ghee. Listen to music that will facilitate this. Pour yourself a drink, talk to the birds, go cuckoo, whatever….

When the onion has browned and the mixture inside mushy and beginning to separate from the oil, put in the ground jeera and saunf and give it a quick fry on a high flame and now put in the beef, stir fry until everything has blended well, lower the flame and cook. In memory of Rajiv who first introduced me to this amazing guy, listen to this when you fix yourself a drink. If he was here, he would definitely have watched this and this.

Serve Beef a la Tiwari with roti or naan and a spicy salad.

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On behalf of my family, Javed Anand, Teesta Setalvad, Praful Bidwai and Rajiv Tiwari and his wife, I thank you for partaking of this generous anti-Hindutva banquet, with its memories and its connections, with the accompanying sorrow and pain of people being lynched for eating beef, their salt being what will flavour the meat and strengthen our resolve to defeat bigotry and its dangerous offspring, fascism.

We raise our toast to this, clink glasses, leave you with this repast and something to help you through the night. Happy cooking, happier eating and even happier Being Indian!

You may want to read the first part of this culinary journey – The Bare Necessities of Beef

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Hartman de Souza Written by:

Hartman de Souza has a background in theatre, education and journalism. He has been associated with several theatre groups in the country and was, till September 2015, the artistic director of the Space Theatre Ensemble, Goa.

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