Monday, 14 March 2011

Captain Beef-heart Curry

I love the idea of nose to tail eating, wasting nothing from animal’s appeals as I’m essentially a very thrifty person!  Heart for me these days is a rare treat though and can sometimes be on the pricey side.

When I was in kitchens professionally most butchers were more than happy to throw a couple my way.  The odd cow heart was always seen as a chef’s treat when you are spending a fortune on meat every day.  You can understand then why I'm loath to pay for them these days...

That said I’ve been aching to cook one for ages now so with the help of Marky Market I got one ordered and delivered to work.  There’s nothing quite like walking through a packed office with a cow’s heart in a clear plastic bag...

This recipe owes more to french cooking than it does Indian (ignoring the fact we are cooking a cows heart here) due to the addition stock and the slow but quite heavy reduction.  The end result though is a punchy sauce and tender but very beefy meat.

1 Cow’s heart – Mine was 3 kilos in weight and Mark reliably informs me it was fresh from a Dexter that morning.
3 medium Onions - Sliced
2 tins of Chopped Tomatoes
500 ml of Beef Stock
2 tbsp of Chilli Powder
2 tbsp of Coriander Seeds
2 tbsp of Cumin Seeds
1 tbsp of Turmeric
1 tbsp of Cinnamon
4 Cardamom Pods
4 cloves
A handful of Black Peppercorns
4 tbsp of ghee or vegetable oil

Butchering the heart takes a while; you’ll need a couple of very sharp knives.  I’d recommend a filleting knife and a smaller paring knife to do the fiddly bits.  When deciding what’s good to use and what’s for the bin always consider “Would I want that in my mouth?”

Pull off the membrane; remove the valves and hard white fat from the outside.  Work methodically and thoroughly through the meat and you’ll end up 3 or 4 steak sized lumps of meat.  Then chop this into cubes and leave it to one side for now. 

You know when you are done when it stops looking like a horror movie and starts to look like food!  Start the cooking by getting a heavy pan on the heat and toasting the Coriander and Cumin seeds lightly.  Put all the spices and the seeds in a small blender or spice grinder and blitz thoroughly.

Slice your onions, put them in a large pan with the oil and soften on the heat but don’t colour them.  Throw in your spice mix to start to cook them for a few minutes.  Doing this allows the sometimes harsh dry spices to mellow and come to life again.

Now after four or five minutes on a gentle heat add your meat.  I’m not colouring this first as I don’t want to make the meat go tough by putting too much heat into it early on.  Let it cook gently for a few minutes in the spices and add the rest of your wet ingredients.

Cook this down for a good four or five hours on a low heat.  You want to liquid to reduce by about half and you’ll be left with a deeply flavoured sauce and tender flesh.  It’s good now but even better after a day or so in the fridge.

Serve with plain rice, a good home made crunchy onion bhaji and a cold lager!  If you are a bit on the squeamish side maybe try this with some stewing steak first or some shin both would work equally as well.


  1. I've had beef heart curry and loved it - but then I love gizzards and all such like :)

  2. I salute you my friend, but it's not for me I'm afraid. I want to want it, but I don't. Maybe if I skipped the the butchering part, but then I'm always loathe to eat things that I don't have the heart (excuse the pun) to prepare myself. Something to work up to perhaps.

    The finished product looks pretty darn awesome though I have to say.

  3. All hail the heart and all other innards I can get my grubby hands on.

    Heart curry? Hell, yeah!

  4. I'm with @meemalee and @BribedwithFood on this one. I heart heart... or something. I just need to think of some way of starting the whole thing off when Mrs GW isn't around because she ain't so keen on hearts.

    I'm now thinking about whether you could do something similar with lamb's hearts, almopnds and cream, like a proper korma or similar?

  5. Glad most people are on board! The Lady was pretty squeamish about it to be honest but when she tried it her opinion changed pretty quickly.

    @Aaron I think lamb heart would work quite well like that and the Almond would give it some good texture! I'd want it hot hot hot though so plenty of green chilli chopped through

  6. This sounds great. I recently had a Sri Lankan heart and liver curry and although it nearly blew my head off, it was delicious and kind of converted me to slow cooked offal.

    I already adore the barbequed chicken hearts you get at Brazilian places.

  7. @miss south I'm loving chicken hearts at the mo as well. Had some fantastic Yaki ones in Berlin a few weeks ago. That was partly the inspiration to get me to buy this as well!

  8. I've never had heart! That's on the list next then. Are they really that expensive? Surely not many people buy them?

  9. @Becca - Mine was £11 which I think is a good price to be honest. You have to remember they are usually 3 kilos a piece and you only get one an animal so demand usually is higher than supply

  10. Looks great Paul. I salute your adventure