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Sri Lankan Beef Bistake By Sharmomth Jayasinghe

Sri Lankan Beef Bistake


500g-750g of beef rump steak

2 medium potatoes cut into medium size slices

2 large onions ( preferably red)

2 tblsp vegetable oil or coconut oil

2-3 garlic cloves chopped fine

2" piece of ginger grated fine

4" piece of pandan leaf ( omit if unavailable)

4" stick of Sri Lankan cinnamon ( key ingredient)

Few curry leaves

1 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper powder ( freshly ground even better)

4- 5 tblspns of coconut vinegar ( or w/wine vinegar)

1 tsp mustard seeds ground

Pinch of sugar

Pinch of chilli powder

1/2 stock cube dissolved in 100ml water


1) Thinly slice the beef into 2 inch length vice slices. ( Do not cube it for it needs to be thin but not too thin like for stir fry either.)

2) Marinate it with the salt, vinegar and pepper and leave for 20mins upto a 1 hour max.

3) Meanwhile slice 1 1/2 of the onions into round thick CIRCLE shapes and chop the other 1/2 onion small. Grind the mustard and make the stock and set aside. Prepare the potatoes.

4) After 20 mins minimum marinating time, heat up the oil in a deep saucepan with a lid, and add the diced 1/2 onion, curry leaves, garlic, ginger and cinnamon and let it fry till the aromas are well released. Then add the beef along with the marinating liquid.

5) Close lid and cook till the beef is soft on a medium flame ( Usually takes about 40 mins-1 hour.) The liquid will try to boil over so you will have to occasionally open the lid and stir pan and close it again. Keep cooking on a low to medium flame till it's nice and soft. At about the 40 min stage, add the potatoes and keep cooking for another 15 mins minimum.

6) Once the beef is soft and the potatoes are cooked, remove everything into a separate bowl. On to the same saucepan add 1 tblspn oil and fry the round shaped onions till they are soft. Add a pinch of sugar to help caramelise them. Add the powdered mustard and pinch of chilli powder and let it fry for 1-2 minutes.

7) Now add the beef mix and the stock, mix well and cook for another 5 minutes stirring well. Check seasoning. It's done.

Tips/ Points to Note.

1) If you really want to keep this dish as close to authentic as possible, please do not add any other ingredients not stated in the recipe. It will change the taste, colour and look of the dish.

2) If you are missing ingredients, please omit them. Any substitutes that are acceptable, I have already stated. However the ingredients pepper, vinegar, salt, onion and mustard are key to the dish.

3) A Sri Lankan beef bistake is easily identifiable by a few visual clues-

• the colour of the beef is more brown-black than red due to pepper. You might even see half crushed, coarse peppercorns. More the better.

•The onions are in circular shapes. You can even add extra fried onions or raw red onions on top as a garnish but again in the round shape. Generally these are the large red variety although white is also okay.

• Potatoes. - the presence of potatoes in the beef curry.


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