Sri Lankan beef bourguignon 

By Jessica Heath

Well of course it’s no surprise here, that this recipe hails from France – land of decadent wines, cheeses, and meat- but in fact I was inspired by our Sri Lankan style beef curry where whole aromatics, coconut milk, and tropical herbs dance and make a festive switch from the famous classic.  

This is a very comforting dish, and you see it and feel it at the same time. If you’re thinking about a holiday dish that will garner big compliments with a conversation starter,  where French cuisine and Sri Lankan splendour collide then this is your specialty!  Although this dish calls for roots vegetables, you may want a bit of colour, so serve alongside, fragrant rice, and a punchy bright salad. If you’re not a beef enthusiast, then make this dish with lamb, venison, wild boar, or mutton. It’s different, but just as good.  

BEEF BOURGUIGNON ( Serves 6-8 )  

  • 1.4kg short rib or Brisket  
  • Salt to taste  
  • Coarse black pepper to taste  
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped  
  • 1 Tbsp Olive oil  
  • 1 sprig of curry leaves  
  • 1 large red onion, diced 6 cloves of garlic, sliced  
  • 1” piece of ginger, minced  
  • 1 Tbsp black mustard seeds, ground  
  • 3 cloves  
  • 4 green cardamom pods, bruised  
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds, bruised  
  • 2 Tbsp Sri Lankan roasted curry powder  
  • 1 Tbsp red chilli powder  
  • ½ cup white vinegar  
  • 5 tomatoes, chopped  
  • Two Inch piece of lemongrass  
  • 1 sage leaf  
  • 2 sprigs of thyme  
  • 5 baby potatoes halved  
  • 2-4 Thai green chillies 
  • 500ml medium to full bodied wine  
  • 350ml beef broth 
  • 250 ml coconut milk 
  • 50 ml water  
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, chopped 

  1. Generously season the short ribs with salt and coarse black pepper.  Fry the bacon in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat until grease fills the pan. Begin to sear the short ribs on all sides, doing so in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan. Make sure they are crusty and deep golden brown all over. Use tongs to remove short ribs to a bowl. Reserve.  
  2. Pour out any residual bacon grease from the pan. Lower heat to medium and add 1 Tbsp olive oil and curry leaves, onion, garlic and ginger and fry for 2 minutes. Add the mustard seeds, cloves,  cardamom, cumin, curry powder and red chilli powder. Cook for another 2 minutes. Stir in vinegar, tomatoes, lemongrass, sage,  thyme and green chillies.  
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in wine. Cook for 2-3 minutes until alcohol burns off. Add beef broth, coconut milk and water. Stir well. Use a little more water to thin out the sauce, if necessary. Drop-in reserved seared short ribs. The liquid should fully cover the meat.  Taste for salt.  
  4. Cover and transfer to oven and bake at 170⁰C for about 3 hours, or cook in a slow cooker on LOW for 5-6 Hours. Continue to cook until  short ribs are easily pierced with a fork. Check pot occasionally to stir. During the last 90 minutes of cooking, stir in carrots and potatoes.  

Start typing and press Enter to search