Indonesian Gulai Kancah

Indonesian Gulai Kancah, or an approximation of it made by a totally inexperienced Westerner who thoroughly enjoyed it in the face of adversity!

Don't you just love it when things go wrong?

No, really! Some things work out so well when they're rescued from disaster!

What happened?

Well, I wanted to make up a beef stew. I had some beef and I had some lamb kidneys. I had a squash.

Consulting the google oracle, I found many ideas ranging from the plain to the less plain to the more plain ... and then found Gulai Kancah!

Indonesian Beef and Liver!

Fusion alert! Fusion takes the best of one culture and marries it with the best of another culture.

Indonesians make hot, sweet and sour curries while we Western Europeans make bland beef stews which can occasionally be interesting when beer is included, like our Beligian friends would.

To work ...

I browned off about a pound of beef cubes in coconut oil and then added in the lamb kidneys, halved and the white gristle centre removed.

Kidney? Yes! It's what I had in; no liver.

Meanwhile, I made up a paste of onion, garlic, ginger and chilli. I used a Scotch Bonnet pepper for a real lively kick, rather than several Bird's Eye chillies - again, it's what I had in.

Blended and poured over the now browned meat, I added water, tamarind paste and some ground black pepper.

Tamarind? Is that even paleo?

Well, I don't quite know - it is a member of the Fabaceae family, and so technically a legume, although we're just using the seed from inside. Seed? Yes, the seed. So, um ... paleo? Well, I don't know ...

Either way, tamarind has a unique sour flavour which is the absolute key to this dish. In the spirit of paleo, I did my hunter/gatherer thing and collected a tub of pure tamarind extract from the local supermarket and tasted it. It didn't kill me and had a curious flavour. Being the largest and strongest in my tribe, I took the challenge! I'll eat some and see if it's okay ... it was!

Great! So, a teaspoon of pungent sour tamarind paste went in along with a crushed lemongrass stalk and a couple of keffir lime leaves.

Water ... set to a rolling simmer in a sauté pan to get the meat tender.

Meanwhile, I go for my evening walk ...


I left my dear wife in charge with the instruction to keep it topped up with water. Upon my return, I was greeted with, "the tea is all burned!". That's dinner, which we call "tea" up north, northern England.

She had just rescued it before it really stuck and luckily, it was the sauce which had stuck not the meat. So, scraped out and the meat meticulously picked from the charred remains of our dinner, I set about repeating the task.

"Our dinner was in your hands, Dude!" :)

This time, I used a softened aubergine as the sauce base. I'd made up some blended aubergine to use as a base for some eggs and scallops as a starter. We'd have to skip that as time was pressing, so the aubergine made the base of a new sauce.

How? Just skin and slice some aubergine, soften in butter and then purée. Move on.

I added another onion, more garlic, so 4 good cloves, more ginger, so about an inch square and another Scotch Bonnet pepper.

Blended and added into the now clean sauté pan wherein the rescued meat was now coming up to the boil in more water, I added in another generous teaspoon of tamarind paste, more keffir lime leaves and another lemongrass stalk.

I had cubed a squash to drop in upon my return from my walk, so this went in at this point.

This was going well ...

Fusion time! It needed salt, which I added some Maldon salt, and some sweetness. Hmmm ... beer! Belgian beer! Grabbing a bottle of brown Leffe, I added a good glass of beer with some arrowroot to thicken the stock. I added a good splash more to colour up.

This is, of course, entirely optional - if you don't drink alcohol as part of your paleo lifestyle or are concerned about beer being from grain, you don't need to add it. Just don't.

I also dropped in some mussels. Adding cheap seafood to beef stews is a good old British thing - think, oysters in Lancashire Hotpot, mussels in London Beef Stew. These practically disappeared into the sauce giving a subtle background.

Liquid reduced, concentrated and thickened to an almost sticking sauce, I served out into small bowls and garnished with shredded spring onions and some coriander.

So, an hour and a half overdue ... we're hungry ... really hungry!

Wow! Oh, wow! This is seriously flavoursome!

Hot, physically and blisteringly fierce with chilli, sour, sweet, all sorts going on in my mouth!

Why have I not eaten Indonesian before?

Lucky me, I have a half-filled bowl of sauce left over for a work lunch. I'm thinking some chicken, maybe pork and some boiled white rice to accompany? Ideas? Let me know in the comments, please - I have my lunch for tomorrow, so need ideas for tomorrow evening when I'll prepare my lunch for Thursday.