It's not for the faint-hearted - literally, the amount of fat in there almost makes my heart stop - but, you know, you could eat salad for a week after or something. Scooped up with a hot flaky roti, pepped up with the sweetness and crunch of an onion salad, it's no wonder this dish is so popular.
I left mine overnight for the flavours to properly intensify; it was addictive in all its spicy, tender glory. I gorged on it so much I felt a bit sick afterwards. Don't eat two portions in one go.
1kg beef shin
1 inch of galangal
5 cloves of garlic
2 inches of ginger
10 dried red chillis (or 5, if you're a wimp)
3 green cardamom pods
2 dried bay leaves
2 star anise
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
4 stalks of lemon grass
6 kaffir lime leaves
1 tin of coconut milk
1 tbsp palm sugar or dark brown sugar
5 tbsp cooking oil
1 tsp salt
Chop the meat up into chunks. Soak the chillis in hot water. Meanwhile, chop the shallots, the whites of the lemongrass, ginger, galangal and garlic and pound to a paste. Chop the softened chillis finely and add to the paste.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the shallot paste until fragrant, on a low heat. Throw in the cloves, star anise, cardamom pods (you may want a muslin bag for this - I don't mind pulling spices out of mouthfuls), ground coriander and cinnamon and stir well. Add the meat and the coconut milk, and then a tinful of water. Set to simmer.
While this is simmering, open your coconut by smacking it hard with the blunt end of a knife across its equator between the three eyes and the other side. It will take about 5 minutes of headache-inducing bashing. It should split neatly open. Catch the coconut water in a bowl, drink it, chuck it away, whatever. Extract the flesh, grate it and then toast it on a very low heated dry frying pan. This is a right pain in the arse, so if you can find unsweetened dessicated coconut, toast that instead - about 6 tbsp.
Add the sugar, coconut, bay and the lime leaves, sliced thinly. Simmer for an hour and a half, and then turn the heat up to a vigorous simmer for at least half an hour, stirring it frequently. The liquid should have almost evaporated off. When it has done so and the oil has separated, fry the beef in this oil, stirring so that it doesn't stick. It should be thick and very dark brown.
Serve with this onion and pomegranate salad and some fresh, fluffy roti. Eat with your hands. If, like me, you leave it overnight then when you come to reheat it, add a splash or 5 of water to loosen it up a bit, simmering it until it's all gone.