Bio: When she isn’t slaving away as a CSE student, Anika Farha can be found slaving away in the kitchen. The only thing these two have in common is how passionate she is about both. From faincy salmon dinners to chicken and beef bone broth, find her and her yummy, healthy delicacies on IG @curlywholewanky, on Cookups, and now at the Gourmet Bazar.
Choosing to take up the Whole or Paleo life in Bangladesh is quite a challenge, especially with the trend of the current food culture. If you Google “healthy restaurants near me” the search results will disappoint you as much as cauliflower rice disappoints most Bengalis. If you really want to make a lifestyle change, you have to take it into your own hands completely. Now it’s even more difficult for students to adapt to such a routine since even our basic deshi meals prepared at home have a large fat content and most of the curries contain too much sugar and all the bad oils. Thus depending on the helping hand to use your compliant ingredients to make your healthy meals is not an option either, especially if she uses your expensive Coconut Oil to deep fry that chicken for your second cousin’s son when you’re not home.
So what exactly is the solution? Meal prep, meal prep, meal prep! Apart from the basic essentials like Sautéed Green Beans and Carrots, Cauliflower Rice and LOTS of compliant Mayonnaise; I also like to take one day to prepare the main dishes for the week. One of my ULTIMATE favourite go to dish is Meljoulwan’s (meljoulwan.com) Paleo Beef Stew. The recipe is out of the world, especially with the little tweaks I make to make it much easier to recreate in Dhaka.
I start by taking a beautiful 500g Beef chunk from Bengal Meat and cut it up into 1 inch cubes, roughly ½ an inch thick, then pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
I chop up some celery and onions, mince the garlic and grate a carrot. I also chop some parsley in advance and one tomato to replace the tomato paste in the recipe (I was out of my homemade paste and I’ve sworn to never use the store bought stuff as they are FILLED with sugar).
Okay, note this. The original recipe instructs to toss the beef in arrowroot, salt and pepper mixture. But I’ve experimented with this recipe many times and have discovered that you can skip the arrowroot altogether. Now the question is, why should we skip the arrowroot when it is so readily available in local stores? Well hear this. The “arrowroot powder” that you buy in kgs at wholesale markets like DCC are actually corn starch mixed with maze starch! I KNOW! I was appalled when I found out only a few days back from my long term grocery supplier at DCC. Unless you’re buying the imported stuff from places like Lavender or Gourmet Bazaar, do not, I repeat, DO NOT use this arrowroot. Especially if you’re doing a Whole30, as obviously, Corn/Maze starch are both non-compliant. Anyway, arrowroot is mainly used in the recipe to act as a thickening agent, however, the way I cook it, the consistency is perfect for a stew. So I simply toss the beef in some salt and pepper and set aside.
Then I heat some homemade lard in a non-stick cookware, you can use any compliant oil here, but I love that extra flavour. Add a tablespoon of EVOO too.
Once hot, I put in the beef in two batches and brown them for about 7-10 minutes each time and remove them into a bowl. In the same pan, I add a little more oil and then put in the onions, celery, garlic and the carrots and sautée till soft, about 10 minutes. Then I add the chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper, bay leaves, and thyme. Stir for about 2 minutes.
Now comes the interesting part, instead of the wine in the original recipe, I add ½ cup of coconut milk and 1.5 tablespoons of vinegar, followed by my beautifully gelled up homemade beef bone broth. Put in the beef, bring to a boil and then on a medium low heat, cover and simmer for about an hour.
After the hour is over, chop up some potatoes about the same dimensions as the beef and add it to the pan. Pour in another cup of coconut milk and broth. Turn the heat down to low and simmer for another hour. 20 minutes before the second hour ends, I like to taste the gravy to decide whether additional seasonings are required. I tend to throw in another pinch or two of salt, some paprika and pepper to heart’s desire and drizzle a nice amount of coconut aminos. Stir well and cover to let the cooking finish. AND VOILA!
Serve them right away, with a sprinkle of the chopped parsley on top, for some warm delicious stew and store the rest in individual boxes for at least 3 more meals if you’re eating the stew along. This goes great over some Cauli Rice with a side of cashewnut salad. Super yumyumyum, budget friendly and completely Whole30 compliant.
- 500gms beef stew meat
- 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon + 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cooking fat
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 1 medium carrot, grated
- 1 stalk celery, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste/chopped tomatoes
- 1 bay leave
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1/4th cup + 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 ½ tablespoon white vinegar
- 2 cups beef broth, divided
- 2 medium potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2-inch chunks
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, coarsely chopped