A Curry In A Hurry

If this book offers you nothing more than a same-night curry, with real flavour and your control, then I’ll be happy. And … at least I’ll have my own reference, in a place I can find it.

This all started on a holiday at Mission Beach, about three-quarters of the way up the far north coast. You get out of Cairns as soon as you can and hightail it south for a couple of hours, and there you are sitting on the edge of the one of the most beautiful seas in the world. Before you lies Dunk Island, and behind you lies a fair dinkum rain forest. And in the cupboard of the joint we hired was a jar of curry paste, labelled ‘Ferns’. I’d never heard of it. The label tells you that it’s made of the following ingredients: water, chilli powder, coriander powder, sesame oil, curry powder (!!??), jeera powder, turmeric powder, acetic acid and salt. Ferns, I opined from the other side of the label, is Mrs N. Fernandes, of Khadki, India. No recipes, no nothing. We tossed it into a stew, and worked it around, and it was delicious. So, when we got home, I got to thinking whether this, combined with that magic pressure cooker, might be the key to my dreams. An instant curry. It was!

Use whatever meat you feel like in this dish. It works just as well with chicken thighs, lamb shanks, or whatever. For best results, use meat with plenty of gelatine in it, so that it cooks tenderly. With regard to curry paste, use one you’ve made, or stolen from a traditional recipe, or a traditional Indian. I have no qualms about using pre-prepared, as in somebody else’s curry paste, because in most cases the expertise and experience involved is better than mine, and curries take too much time anyway, without worrying about the pre-prep.

2 large onions, sliced roughly

a little olive oil

2 dessertspoons Ferns curry paste, or whatever curry paste you like

500 g beef (from the shank), roughly chopped into larger than bite-sized cubes

water or beef stock or chicken stock, to cover – Use the stocks you can buy in cardboard packs in the supermarket if you like.

2 waxy potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped into chunks


Cook the onion very gently in olive oil for 5 minutes, until it is well softened but not yet caramelised, in the true Indian style. If you really want to keep going until it is truly caramelised, do it. You might need to add a little water here and there to stop burning.


Add the curry paste to the onion and continue cooking gently for another 2 minutes.


Add the beef and stir through until it is well covered with the onion and curry paste.


Add the water or stock, potatoes and carrot, bring the pressure cooker to full steam, and cook for 25 minutes. You can continue cooking gently to reduce the moisture if you like. This is terrific on the first night, and even better after a week, when the vegetables and beef have given some of themselves to the liquid, thickening the mix.

WINE: I’m no fan of wine with curry. I like a cold Cascade Pale Ale or something equivalent. The fresher and greater hops character the beer has the better.