Inchi Puli Potherachi

I was consulting an organic tea & coffee company for some years. The pristine and verdant estates were located in the South Indian Sahyadri mountains in Kerala. The visits felt like a holiday when I worked there. I was blissful and rejuvenated on each visit and felt like a divine blessing. It was exciting to discover the varied aspects of Keralian cuisine since there were many opportunities to chat with the cook, as often I was the only visitor at the guest house of the estate. This is the cook’s tangy beef recipe which uses simple ingredients and an easy method of cooking it. I especially loved the concept of using the spices from the estate like fresh green peppercorns, curry-leaf, and cardamom to make it a delightful beef dish. The spicy taste is delivered by the fresh ginger and green peppercorns, celebrating simplicity yet yielding layers of flavours, which I find very enticing. Do try to use some fat of the beef for a smooth & unctuous sauce. The same recipe, I was told, the Keralians use for cooking duck. I cook this recipe with duck more often than beef. After marinating the duck, (if like me you leave the skin on) braise the duck in the pan to release its fat, and use the fat to cook it.

Do not be disheartened if the list of ingredients feel long some are repeated- you need no special skills for cooking it!

For 4 persons/ 1tsp=5ml/1 tbsp=15ml/1 cup =225ml


400 g stewing beef, cut in small 3x3 cm cubes
2 tsp ginger grated
1/2 tsp turmeric
¾ tsp Salt
Marinate the beef with the above, for 1 hour
For cooking bouillon-here to next 8 : 1 tbsp coconut oil
2 star anise
2 large pieces, cinnamon
6 green cardamom, lightly crushed to open
8-10 black or white peppercorns
1 dry red chili, broken in two + 1 green chili, slit open up to half its length
4 slices ginger lightly smashed to release flavours
750 ml hot water
8-10 small shallots, peeled
To stir-fry and finish:
2 tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup slivers/ slices of coconut or desiccated dried coconut
6 green cardamom
2 tbsp ginger juliennes made from a 4 cm piece of ginger
A handful of fresh or dried curry leaves (if you do not have it add kaffir lime leaves or bay leaves).
½ tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp green-peppercorns fresh or preserved- lightly crushed open in a mortar with the pestle
½ tsp black pepper powder
1 tsp cumin powder
½ tsp cinnamon powder
3 tbsp tamarind pulp (soak a lemon-sized ball of tamarind in ¼ cup hot water, then squeeze out the pulp). If using bottled, check if it is concentrated, in that case, dissolve 1 tbsp in ¼ cup hot water before using).
2 tsp Ghee/ coconut oil for finishing.


1.For cooking the beef in bouillon: Step 1
2.In a soup pan or casserole, heat the 1 tbsp coconut oil.
3.When hot, add all the spices and the chili. Fry for a few seconds to release the aroma.
4.Add the marinated beef cubes. Roast on high heat to sear.
5.Add the hot water, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and cook for about 1 hour till meat is tender.
6.Add the shallots at the end and cook for 5-7 minutes.
7.Strain the meat through a sieve, remove the whole spices, reserve the cooking juices.
8.Rinse the same pan clean and heat it again.
9.Add the 2 tbsp coconut oil, reduce heat, add the coconut slivers and quickly toss them till they just turn to beige colour, remove to a plate.
10.Add the cardamom, ginger, curry leaves, and stir-fry for a few seconds.
11.Add turmeric and beef cubes + shallots. Stir-fry for 2 mins.
12.Then add the crushed green pepper, black pepper, cumin & cinnamon powders.
13.Stir-fry again for 1 min. then add the tamarind pulp as well as some reserved cooking juices so you have a bit of curry-like sauce.
14.Taste & adjust salt/ black pepper for the spice-heat to your taste. Simmer covered for about 5-7 mins. For the flavours to mix through.
15.Before you take the pan off the heat, add the finishing ghee/coconut oil for added flavour and a glaze to the sauce.
16.Garnish with the roasted coconut slivers before serving. Serve hot with red rice or brown rice, or with pita bread/ Appams (recipe in the Mains/Bread section).