This recipe came to me in an unexpected way. A little while ago, Déwi invited Poor John and me to join her and her two daughters for dinner.
I’ve known Déwi since she was a teenager. That’s when I first came to Australia and lived next door to the wonderful Adam family.
I was completed blessed and Déwi’s mother, Ronnie, was like a sister to me. Last year, we lost Ronnie to a tumour when she was way too young.
But I mustn’t linger in sadness. Sharing dinner with Déwi and family was a special treat, and imagine our surprise to discover that the main dish she was cooking was from pages 132–33.
350 g (12 oz) waxy potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried red chilli
2 onions, sliced
750 g (1 lb 10 oz) diced beef
6 green chillies, seeded and cut into long thin strips
1 tablespoon tomato paste (concentrated purée)
400 g (14 oz) tin chopped tomatoes
steamed rice or couscous, to serve
Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with water. Add the turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon of sea salt and bring to the boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain and set aside, reserving some of the liquid to add to the curry later.
Put a heavy-based frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the ginger, coriander, mustard seeds, fennel seeds and dried chilli. Cook for a minute or until the spices are aromatic, then add the onion and the remaining olive oil. Cook the onion until it is soft, them remove it with a slotted spoon. Add the beef to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is browned. Return the spiced onions to the pan, and add the green chilli, tomato paste and tomatoes.
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, adding some of the reserved potato water if necessary.
Add the potatoes at the last minute and cook for a further minute.
Serve with steamed rice or couscous. Serves 4.
How it played out
We arrived 20–30 minutes before dinner was served, so I can’t claim to have watched (or photographed) the cooking process. I simply asked ‘What are you making’. Demi showed me the cookbook and I instantly spotted the magic number 32.
It was a wonderful meal in every way. Delicious food—including the curry, steamed rice, two colourful salads and parathas—perfect company, lots of laughter and the sharing of many memories. As it turned out it was the 21st anniversary of the day Déwi served as postmistress in the small Japanese village she was living in at the time.
We’ve promised to get together again soon.