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  • Writer's pictureBobbi Jo Lathan

Beef Madras with Basmati Rice

Updated: Dec 31, 2023

I gave a “Create Your Own Cookbook” class one fall at a local college. It was loads of fun, as we had  guys and  gals from all nationalities and backgrounds wanting to learn how to share their favorite foods.

One of my students was a lovely lady from India named Abhiri. She approached me after the first class. She made it very clear to me that she was very confident rand eally didn’t think she required any help writing out her own recipes, but was taking my class just  “for the fun of it.” The other students who overheard her were a bit surprised with her rather “know-it-all attitude,” but it was no surprise to me. You see, I, myself, had been, shall we say, a bit over- confident about my own writing abilities. That is, until I got back the first round of corrections from my own cookbook editor. Lord have mercy! Every page of my prized cookbook was filled with post-it notes, with corrections everywhere! I quickly learned that maybe  I wasn’t the Southern smarty-pants that I thought I was!

Well, as our “Create Your Own Cookbook Class” progressed, it became increasingly obvious that Abhiri’s know-it-all  attitude was getting in the way of her learning how to write out her recipes. So, when it came time to actually start cooking, Abhiri was the first to get a special assignment. I asked her to write out her favorite Indian recipe, and to bring it to our class the next week and we’d cook it. However, she needed to email me the recipe first, as I would be the one to bring all the ingredients.  Then, for the class, we would follow her recipe to- a- tee in our fully equipped kitchen.  Abhiri agreed and told the other students “I will be delighted to show everyone in the class how to reallyprepare authentic Indian food!”

As promised, Abhiri emailed me her recipe for Beef Madras. The following week, I brought copies of her recipe to class and handed them out to her fellow classmates.  I also laid out all the required ingredients on the kitchen table along with her recipe instructions.

Once the class began, I  brought Andhira down into the kitchen and she began to slip on one of our aprons and get to work. However, I said to her, “I tell you what, Abhira, let’s have Marcos come down, and have him follow your Beef Madras recipe for the class. “  Marcos was thrilled, as he loved cooking and was a bit of a “ham.”To the applause of the other students, he donned an apron and went to work reading Abhiri’s recipe.  My only instruction to him was that he must follow her recipe exactly as she had written it, no matter what.  I also asked Abhiri to stay with us in the kitchen in case something needed clarification, to which her quick response was, “Oh! He won’t have any trouble! I made it all very clear what to do!”

Needless to say, it wasn’t long before Abhiri was reprimanding Marcos . She said loudly, “What do you think you are doing? You can’t put all that beef into the pot at once! It won’t brown evenly!”  And Marcos responded casually, “Well, you didn’t tell me that in your recipe. You just said to brown the meat, so I’m browning the meat. I’m just doing what you said!”  And when it came time to add the onion, Marcos read the recipe carefully, paused, and then just threw the whole onion, skin and all, into the pot.  The whole class burst out laughing as Abhiri’s yelled, “Are you crazy! You’re supposed to peel the onion and chop it first!”

To the delight of the class, and the embarrassment  of Abhiri, the point had been clearly made. If she had approached the class with a more open attitude towards learning something new, this all could have been avoided. However, I turned to the class and asked, “OK. Who wants to taste Abhiri’s Beef Madras?” To which the entire class raised their hands. “How about this? I suggest we let Abhiri actually show us how to make the rest of her recipe and, as a class, we will all see if we can help with putting into exact words, just what she is doing.” Abhiri was thrilled at the chance to redeem herself, and the class was happy to have the opportunity to learn new ways to be more specific with their instructions. So, for the next hour and a half, the entire class was engaged in the great fun of cooking, laughing, and learning the importance of creating a good recipe.

Now, that’s what I call, “Cookin’ with a ‘right smart’ of LOVE!”

Beef Madras with Basmati Rice

Recipe by: Bobbi Jo Lathan

Recipe type: Entree

Cuisine: Indian


15 mins


1 hour 45 mins


2 hours


2 pounds chuck steak or stewing meat (cubed)

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 medium-sized yellow onion (chopped)

2 cloves garlic (minced)

1 tablespoon ground coriander

1 ½ tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon tumeric

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garam masala

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (chopped)

1 inch piece of fresh ginger (peeled and very finely grated)

2 tablespoons of tomato paste

1 8 ounce can diced tomatoes

1 fresh lemon (squeezed and seeded)

2 cups beef stock

Basmati rice (to serve under beef - cooked according to directions on package)


  1. Git yourself a big ol’ pot or Dutch oven and place it on your stove burner.

  2. Heat the oil in the Dutch over a medium heat and brown your meat. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper as you’re browning. Depending upon the size of your pot or Dutch oven, you might wanna divide the meat into two batches in order for the meat to brown evenly.

  3. Remove that browned meat into a bowl and set it aside for a minute.

  4. Now, git yourself a small bowl and mix together the coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, salt and pepper and garam masala.

  5. Next, in that same Dutch oven, add another tablespoon of oil, if needed, and add the chopped onion and garlic.

  6. Once the onions are translucent, add the cilantro and fresh ginger.

  7. Stir that for about 1 minute and then add the mixed spices from the small bowl.

  8. Cook this onion-spice mixture for another minute until blended well.

  9. Now, add the tomato paste, diced tomatoes and lemon juice and stir ‘til blended.

  10. Add the browned meat to the tomato-spice-onion mixture in the Dutch oven and mix ‘til the meat is well coated and cook that for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.

  11. Lastly, add the beef stock and stir that until “used”. (As Grandmama Watson used to say…meaning, until well mixed.)

  12. You’re gonna bring all this to a boil and then turn it down to a medium-low heat and cover and cook for about an hour and a half. (You’ll wanna check it every 15 minutes to make sure it isn’t cooking too fast and that the liquid hasn’t completely cooked down.)

  13. The last 10 minutes, you can remove the cover and check it again. The sauce should be reduced and thickened and your meat should be very tender. If the meat is still NOT tender yet, add another cup of water and let that cook down ‘til meat is tenderized.

  14. Cook your Basmati rice according to the package.

  15. Serve that tasty Beef Madras over some cooked rice and top with some freshly chopped cilantro. YUM!


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