Potluck Idea: Black Beef Dry Curry

I love eating with friends and family. I enjoy chatting over meals, the laughters, glass clinking and the overall lively vibe from eating with a room of people whom I love and cherish. Too bad, it doesn’t happen as regular as I have hoped due to varying work commitments and schedules.

I’ve been wanting to organise a potluck party inviting some new friends whom I met since moving to Orange. As you all know procrastination is the thief of time – it has been a good few months since my potluck  plan is in the works and I’m starting to feel a little embarrass for dragging it out that long. So, without further ado, I picked up a phone to make a few calls and finally, potluck party was actually happening!

For those who are unfamiliar with the term “potluck”, it basically means a gathering of people where each person or group of people contributes a dish of food to be shared among the group (extracted from Wikipedia). This is something I learned when I was in University and it is without a doubt an economical way of hosting a party and also less work on the host/hostess. In order to host a successful potluck party, it is important to have a general idea on “who is bringing what” to ensure a proper proportion of main dishes and desserts (it’ll be disastrous with a table full of dessert!)

While many of my friends love making desserts, I, the self-proclaimed savoury queen, will of course contribute the savoury dishes. :P

I usually pick out a dish that can be done ahead of time i.e stews and curries. Not only they taste better the next day,  I don’t have rush like a mad woman trying to get everything done hours before the party i.e set the table, tidy the house, get properly attired and make up…you get the idea.

{My frozen curry leaves}

Anyway, for this party, my dish of choice was black beef dry curry. I have been cooking this dish quite frequently after watching  an episode of Poh’s Kitchen  on  local delicacies in my hometown – Penang. I’m delighted with the ease of the dish; and this is another one of my childhood favourite which my mum used to buy this curry every week from a neighbourhood stall ran by a group of Malay housewives.

The reason is known as black beef is not because of a specific species beef is used in the curry. Oh, nothing like that! But is because dark soy sauce is added to the curry so the gravy becomes darker and sweeter than the conventional curry.

Despite I mentioned that the recipe is easy, it requires about 1 1/2 of cooking time.  This is what Nigella Lawson would call a Quick Quick Slow – slow cooking with minimal effort. After all time must be invested in order to produce tenderised beef right? I hope you’ll enjoy this dish. :)

Black Beef Dry Curry

(inspired by black beef nasi kandar by Chef Ismail)

Serves 5-6 people


1.5 kg diced beef

3 tbsps Malaysian curry powder

10 tbsps water

6 tbsps sweet soy sauce / ketjap manis / ABC sauce

about 15 curry leaves

2 large onions, thinly sized

5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 inch thick ginger, roughly sliced

1 green chilli, deseeded and slit into halves

2 tomatoes, quartered

Salt and sugar to taste


1. In a small bowl, stir curry powder and 10 tbsps of water to create a paste. Set aside for 1/2 hour or more.  This step will ensure a smooth gravy rather than grainy.

2. Add curry leaves to hot oil and fry.

3. Add onions, garlic, ginger and green chilli. Fry until fragrant.

4. Add curry paste and stir to combine with the onion mixture. Fry for 10 – 15 minutes on low heat, until the oil begins to separate.

5. Add tomatoes, beef, dark soy sauce, sugar and salt (I suggest add about 1/2 tbsps of sugar & salt respectively, you can add more later on).

6.  Add a little water (enough to cover the beef) and cook until the beef is tender on low to medium heat. This will take approximately 1 1/2 hours. Please check after one hour to make sure the curry doesn’t stick.

7. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for another 15 – 20 minutes or until the gravy has  thickened and dark brown. The length of time depends on how much liquid is absorbed by the beef after 1 1/2 hours of cooking.

8. Season with salt and sugar to taste and best serve with rice.

In case you have any leftovers, they make really good fried rice too!

To make fried rice:

1. Pan fry some eggs and frozen veggies of your choice.

2. Add rice and leftover curry to the egg mixture and stir to combine.

3. Add salt/soy sauce to taste. Enjoy!

17 Responses to Potluck Idea: Black Beef Dry Curry
  1. foodies at home
    August 3, 2010 | 5:21 pm

    This looks delish! I love curries although I haven’t attempted my own yet. Maybe this is the inspiration I needed!

  2. A Little Yumminess
    August 3, 2010 | 6:28 pm

    This looks so good. Reminds me of beef rendang but seems easier to make. Their are so many recipes on your blog that I want to try!!!

  3. Magic of Spice
    August 3, 2010 | 9:11 pm

    This is a great dish…I so love curry:)

  4. Nancy aka SpicieFoodie
    August 3, 2010 | 11:48 pm

    OMG that looks so so scrumptious! I love curry , any kind . Will have to try this one soon.

  5. Baking Serendipity
    August 4, 2010 | 3:22 am

    I love potlucks :) You are so smart to go with a dish that can be created ahead of time…and this one looks delicious!

  6. Sommer @ A Spicy Perspective
    August 4, 2010 | 12:26 pm

    Oh my! That looks incredible! What depth and spice–love it!

  7. Kristi Rimkus
    August 4, 2010 | 1:31 pm

    I love having company for dinner. I used to go crazy and make entertaining too complicated and spent way too much money. Now I do just what you did. Have a potluck. It’s a great way to try new dishes too.

    Love the curry. I can see this would be a crowd pleaser!

  8. Angelica
    August 4, 2010 | 1:59 pm

    This dish looks so amazingly tasty. I will be making it shortly.

    I had no idea Poh had her own tv-show (they do not air it here in Norway), well done her. I liked her a lot when she was on Masterchef.

  9. Tanantha @ I Just Love My Apron
    August 4, 2010 | 10:49 pm

    Could I be your guest? This looks very good. It makes me hungry again. I cook curry dish often and most of the time I depend on curry past, tee hee.

  10. Chef Dennis
    August 7, 2010 | 1:33 am

    I have to admit curry dishes are new to me, yours looks very very tasty! thanks for all the info and a great recipe!

  11. Sook
    August 7, 2010 | 4:52 am

    Curry is my favorite! Love the flavor and everything else. Your curry looks delicious. I am saving the recipe for later! Thanks.

  12. Jessica
    August 7, 2010 | 4:49 pm

    It looks delicious! It is great when family and friends can get together to enjoy each other’s company over a beautiful meal. That is what we remember most out of life, no?

  13. Cynthia
    August 11, 2010 | 7:06 pm

    This looks amazing! I’m definitely going to try this soon :). Great idea for using the leftover curry for fried rice too!

  14. Ad
    June 17, 2013 | 5:53 am

    can you use regular ‘curry powder’ bought from the supermarket? if you don’t have malaysian curry powder on hand?

    • Emily
      June 17, 2013 | 11:06 am

      Hi Ad,

      Although I have not tried it with regular curry powder, I reckon it will work but it may taste a little different though.

  15. Antonia Victorio
    October 21, 2013 | 2:19 pm

    Found your blog by chance, and I am enjoying your writing. I am reading the black beef dry curry recipe and am confused about the curry leaves, per your photograph they look like bay leaves (Laurus nobilis). For a cosmopolitan audience, can you provide other names the curry leaves are known as?

    • Emily
      October 22, 2013 | 11:46 am

      Hi Antonia,
      ‘Curry leaves’ are the only name I know. While they appeared to look like bay leaves on the photograph, they looked quite different up close. Curry leaves are more delicate than bay leaves and the aroma of the former is much stronger than bay leaves when they are fresh. I have looked up detailed information on curry leaves on wikipedia for you http://bit.ly/10SGU0t . Thank you for showing such keen interest on curry leaves. I hope this helps! :) xx Emily

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