Coconut Beef Curry

In Australia I used to subscribe to a lot of cooking magazines. Every time a new issue came out, I’d get a plastic wrapped treasure in my letterbox and I’d relish poring over them. I kept the vast majority of the magazines, especially my favourites like Delicious and Donna Hay.  As you can imagine, when you don’t miss a single issue in over six years, I ended up having almost a whole wardrobe cupboard filled with mags. It would be a waste of space if I didn’t enjoy re-reading the back catalogues so much and I’d always find some recipes that may have not stood out to me initially but became firm favourites on a later read . Unfortunately, my large cooking magazine collection wasn’t as fun to pack into boxes when we were preparing to move over here. I hope they are keeping well where they are stored, because I am confident that I will use them again one day for recipes and inspiration.


(camera phone picture)

These boxes contain just the cook books and cooking mags that I left behind.

I remember one night not long before we moved over here. I was sitting on the couch surrounded by magazines and saying *whingeing* to Key that I would be sad to not have access to my favoured mags while we were here. Key found an online magazine subscription service for me called Zinio and I signed up online straight away. Each month, I get a digital copy of my favourite magazines and I pore over them just like I used to with the hard copies.  You can read the online copies on your tablet or smart phone and it looks really good on my laptop too.

I’m so glad to have access to the magazines I’m used to and I think I will even keep using the online subscription service when I am back in Australia. It will certainly save on space. I have occasionally seen a Donna Hay mag here in Singapore and I have also come across some really good local food mags.

This coconut beef curry was inspired by a fried coconut beef curry in the July 2013 SBS Feast mag.  I adapted the recipe to include a basic curry paste and I wanted to take advantage of some fresh young coconut water.  After a bit of easy preparation in the afternoon and some delicious smells coming from the kitchen as you slow cook the beef, you have a delicious curry ready for dinner.

Curry Leaves

The curry leaves I had seemed really small. Basically you want about a tablespoon of them for this recipe. I was able to buy a big bag of curry leaves for really cheap and I froze the rest for later use.



In a mortar and pestle, grind the star anise, cloves and curry leaves to start to break them down. It doesn’t need to be completely broken down, it will just blend into the other paste ingredients better if you bash them up a bit first.


 Curry Paste

Making a good paste-like consistency can vary, based on a number of factors like how wet your chillies are for instance and how strong your food processor is. Unfortunately I think the blades on my mini processor have dulled a bit over time, so I really need to work at pulsing it. At the end of the day, you just want to try and break down those ingredients as much as possible.


Young Coconut

That baby is filled to the brim with coconut water.

I really took advantage of my access to fresh coconuts here. I used both fresh young coconut juice and freshly grated coconut flakes. I’ve never seen fresh young coconuts for sale in Canberra, but you can easily buy coconut water in bottles in the juice aisle of supermarkets these days. Just make sure you get an unsweetened one. Alternatively, you could just replace this with chicken stock or even use all water and you will still get enough flavour from the curry paste to make this really tasty. I read somewhere that coconut water is a natural meat tenderiser, so if you don’t use it, you may need to slow cook the beef a little longer to get that lovely soft consistency.



Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t grate a coconut myself, I was able to buy packaged fresh coconut flakes in the refrigerated section here. A good substitute would be unsweetened desiccated coconut.



Coconut Beef Curry

Ingredients – Serves 2-3

  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 tbs fresh curry leaves
  • 3 long green chillies, roughly chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 long eschalots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1cm ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 tbs rice bran oil (or another neutral oil)
  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 500g chuck steak pieces
  • 1 cup coconut water (or stock, or water)
  • 1 whole cinnamon quill
  • ½ cup freshly gated coconut



  1. Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  2. In a mortar and pestle, bash and grind 1 of the whole star anise, the cloves and curry leaves to start to break them down. Once broken and bashed up a bit, tip them into a food processor.
  3. Add the chillies, turmeric, eschalots, garlic, ginger and salt and process until you start to get a thick paste like consistency.
  4. Add the rice bran oil and continue to blend until all ingredients come to a paste.
  5. Heat 1 tbs of the coconut oil in a large heavy based saucepan or enamel casserole on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, brown the beef in batches. After each batch, remove the beef and set aside.  Add a little more coconut oil if necessary.
  6. Once all of the beef is browned and set aside, in the same pot, heat the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil and add the curry paste. Saute the curry paste over the same level of heat until you can start the smell the heat of the chilies coming off it. This should take around 1-2 minutes.
  7. Next, add the coconut water and 1 cup of water to deglaze the pan. Scrape off any browned bits of meat or curry paste from the bottom of the pot.
  8. Add the meat and any resting juices back to the pot with the other whole star anise, the cinnamon quill and the fresh coconut.
  9. Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and slow cook in the oven for 2 hours or until the meat is tender and the sauce has reduced right down.
  10. Once cooked, remove the whole star anise and cinnamon quill and season with salt if needed.
  11. Garnish with green chili slices and serve over rice or cauliflower rice like we did.

 Coconut Beef Curry



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Hi! I’m Taryn. The Wooden Spoons is a food blog and collection of wooden spoons, recipes and stories. I’m a Canberra fan-girl with a passion for all things food. I love South East Asian food, fusion food done well and slow cooked anything. I don’t get quinoa, have a mild phobia of milk touching my skin and custard from a package freaks me out. Thanks for joining me on my cooking and food adventures.

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