The Beef Pasanday Recipe is little known outside of South Asia but the meaning of its name speaks for itself. The word "Pasand" means favorite and this curry is right up there on the list with the likes of Korma. Similar to the Korma, the emphasis in this recipe is on the more fragrant spices versus those with more heat.
According to seasonedpioneers.com The Pasanda Curry was a favorite of the Mughal Court around the 16th Century. The recipe was a creation of the Kayasths, who were courtiers to the Mughal Kings. Not royalty themselves, they did belong to an upper class privileged community.
The original Kayasths curry consisted of lamb or goat meat. The choicest cut was usually thigh meat, pounded very thin. The meat was then marinated with yogurt and spices, fried and cooked with onions.
Many variations of Pasandas existed, one of the more popular ones being "badaam pasandas" which incorporated the use of almonds in the recipe.
In addition to pounding the meat, the pasanda recipe calls for some form of a tenderizer to be used in the marinade. According to food.ndtv.com the Kayasth favored the use of Kachri powder as a tenderizer. Kachri is a greenish yellow melon that grows in the Rajasthan desert and tastes similar to Amchur powder. On the other hand, the Mughal's used raw papaya as their preferred meat tenderizer.
The recipe may seem complicated at first glance but is fairly easy. Preparing the meat and marinade takes only 30 minutes and the slow cooking process is fairly simple.
Assemble all of your spices for the masala and marinade as below.
Roast and grind the dry spices to make your 'masala'.
Stir the masala and the rest of the ingredients together to make the marinade.
In tying to stay close to the original recipe of the Kayasth I tried to recreate the taste and flavor of Kachri by using vinegar and poppy seeds in my masala and marinade. The vinegar acts as a tenderizer and gives a slightly sour taste similar to that of Kachri or Amchur. The poppy seeds provide the texture and protein that the ground melon would provide.
I know many people who don't like using papaya as a tenderizer so this also provides them with a great option. For those who prefer Papaya I would omit the poppy seeds and vinegar and use 2 tbsp raw papaya in the marinade instead.
After marinating overnight, brown the meat slices by sauteing them in some oil as shown below.
Slow cook the browned meat slices in the prepared onion curry till the meat is tender enough to seperate with a fork. The pasanda curry is on the dry side so once the meat is cooked the water must be evaporated till the gravy just coats the meat.
Beef Pasanday Recipe
Pasanda Masala (For 2 lb Meat)
- 1 tsp peppercorn
- 2 tsp coriander seeds
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp green cardamom (about 10 pieces)
- 2 inch cinnamon stick
- 10 dried red chilies
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 2 tsp salt (Adjust to taste)
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp red chili powder (Adjust to taste)
Marinade (For 2 lb Meat)
- 1 cup plain full fat yogurt
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp vinegar
- 1 tbsp ginger paste
- 1 tbsp garlic paste
- Masala per recipe above
- 2 lb beef tenderloin strips (SEE NOTES)
- marinade per recipe above
- ½ cup oil
- 2 onions
- 1 tbsp garlic
- 1 tbsp ginger
- 2 cup water
Garnish (For 2 lb Meat)
- ½ inch piece ginger
- ½ cup cilantro
- 4 serrano chillies
- Dry roast all the whole spices for a few minutes, just till you can smell a nutty aroma. Be careful not to over roast them or else the curry will have a burnt taste.
- Cool slightly and grind to a powder using a spice grinder.
- Add in all the powdered spices and mix well.
- Beat the yogurt, lemon juice, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pasanda masala to prepare the marinade.
- The beef tenderloin should be cut into very thin strips, about 3 x 6 inches long (SEE NOTES)
- Using a mallet pound the beef to help tenderize it (SEE NOTES)
- Marinate it overnight using the prepared marinade.
- The next morning, remove the meat strips from the marinade (reserving the marinade for later) heat about ¼ cup of the oil and lightly brown the meat on both sides.
- *Slice the green chilies for the garnish lengthwise and saute in the remaining oil and set aside for the garnish
- Dice the two onions and saute in the remaining ¼ cup oil till it's well browned.
- Add the garlic and ginger paste and saute for a few minutes.
- Add the remaining marinade and 1 cup water and bring to a boil.
- cook for about 20 minutes and then blend using an immersion blender or regular blender.
- add the liquid back to the pot with an additional cup of water and the strips of meat and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pot with foil to seal well and slow cook for 2-4 hours till the meat is tender enough to seperate with a fork.
- Turn the flame on high to dry all the excess liquid so you're left with a thick dry gravy that just coats the meat.
- garnish with the sauteed chilies, ginger and cilantro and serve with fresh, hot naan
- Seasoning - Salt and chilies are both spices that often need to be adjusted to personal taste. I tend to keep them on the lower side in my recipes as more can always be added but too much can be a problem. I would recommend tasting the curry towards the end of the cooking process and adjusting to suit your personal taste.
- Meat - In Pakistan we get a specific cut of meat called "undercut" for pasandas and the butcher usually trims it and cuts it to perfectly sized pieces. The best I've found here in the USA is tenderloin. If you have access to a good butcher who will slice it into thin 3x6 strips that's perfect! If not, grab a good knife and do the best you can! The thinner the strips the better!
- Tenderizing - Despite the fact that the strips are cut thin they need to be tenderized a little bit. The best way to do that is to use the rough side of a meat mallet to lightly pound them. However, be careful not to overdo it as the meat is already sliced very thin and the purpose is to tenderize and not pulverize.