Kerala Beef Curry(Varatharacha Beef Curry)

Beef in toasted coconut curry || Kerala Varatharacha Beef Curry (Paleo, AIP Adaptable)

Kerala Beef Curry(Varatharacha Beef Curry)Beef and Potatoes anyone? And what if the beef is cooked in a sauce/curry made from toasted coconut and curry spices like fennel and coriander? Hmm…can you imagine the aromas! This traditional Keralan(Kerala is a coastal state in southern India) Beef Curry is usually slow cooked with either yams or taro root (yes, no potatoes:)) and is one of my favorite recipes for Beef.  The other favorite is the spicy beef stir fry with coconut chips that I have posted before. Both these recipes have coconut but in different forms. In this recipe, fresh grated coconut is first toasted slowly in a pan until it turns golden brown. Then this along with some whole spices is ground into a fine paste. This forms the base or the sauce for this curry. Hence the name ‘Varatharacha’ which in Malayalam means ‘fried and ground’.  The taro (or yam) when cooked in this sauce additionally makes it creamy and thick. The taro itself tastes wonderful having soaked all the flavors from the beef and the sauce!

Kerala Beef StewOK so I have been making this curry since the last couple times in the Instant Pot. But I would not call this an ‘instant pot recipe’ per se since the frying/toasting of the coconut and the masala paste is a separate step which does not involve the Instant Pot. However, for cooking beef or mutton (goat meat) curry, I recommend using some kind of pressure cooking – either a regular pressure cooker or an electric pressure cooker or an Instant Pot.  I am finding the Instant Pot to be increasingly convenient for such traditional recipes which involved using the Pressure Cooker.  The main advantage is that you don’t have to be around the kitchen while it is doing its thing! You set the timer up and you can go your merry way instead of waiting for the pressure cooker whistle to go off so you can turn the stove off!

Indian Beef Stew (Paleo, AIP)This curry tastes great with rice and that’s how my family has it. I like to eat it with my homemade AIP Chapatis or cassava rotis. Or you could just have a large bowl of it by itself although if you want to do that I will suggest you cut down the quantities of the spices. I am also suggesting in my recipe below how you can turn this recipe into an AIP version. Even though making it AIP compliant would mean cutting down a lot of the important flavors here like fennel and coriander, I still feel this curry is something folks would still enjoy because of the flavor of the toasted coconut and the other spices. Do try this and let me know in the comments below how it turned out!

Bringing this recipe over to the Paleo/AIP Recipe Roundtable hosted by Phoenix Helix. 

5.0 from 1 reviews
Beef in toasted coconut curry || Kerala Varatharacha Beef Curry (Instant Pot)
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Kerala, Indian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
This traditional Keralan Beef Stew is made using toasted coconut, fennel, coriander and some other spices. The addition of root vegetables like taro makes this creamy, comforting and delicious!
For cooking Beef:
  • 2 lbs grass fed Beef (I prefer Chuck roast) cut into small (about 2 inch by 1 inch pieces)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, 1 inch each
  • 2 tsp ginger garlic paste(see below)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder (omit for AIP)
  • 1 med onion thinly sliced
  • ½ cup water
For ginger garlic paste:
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 inch by 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
For the masala paste:
  • 1 cup fresh frozen grated coconut (thawed) or organic shredded coconut(unsweetened)
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds (omit for AIP)
  • 2 tbsp fennel seeds (omit for AIP)
  • 4-6 black peppercorns (omit for AIP)
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds or powder (omit for AIP)
  • ½ cup warm water
  • 2 taro root, peeled and cubed
  • 2 tsp garam masala (For AIP, use AIP garam masala as given below)
For AIP Garam Masala:
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground mace
  • ½ tsp ground cloves
For tempering:
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds (omit for AIP)
  • 6-8 fresh curry leaves
For making ginger garlic paste:
  1. Blend the ginger, garlic and olive oil in a small food processor jar until smooth. Keep aside.
Cooking the Beef:
  1. Add all ingredients listed under 'For cooking beef' including the ginger garlic paste into pressure cooker or the insert pot of instant pot. If regular pressure cooker, cook till 5 whistles and then turn heat off and let pressure release naturally before opening. For Instant Pot, set Pressure cook for 10 mins. Let pressure release naturally.
  2. While the beef is cooking, heat a frying pan and add the grated coconut or shredded coconut to the pan. Toast the coconut on medium heat stirring frequently (to avoid uneven burning) until all of the coconut is a light brown/ golden brown color and fully toasted (it should feel dry). This will take about 6-8 mins. Now add the other spices if adding and stir fry for another 30 secs and turn heat off. Transfer the coconut and the spices to a food processor jar and add the warm water and blend into a fine paste. Keep aside.
  3. Once the Instant Pot/ Pressure cooker has released all pressure, open the lid and add this ground masala paste to it. Stir to blend this paste into the curry. Nest add the taro root pieces into this and the garam masala (for AIP, add all the spices listed under AIP Garam Masala) and again close the cooker and cook for 1 more whistle (for regular cooker) OR 3 mins for Instant Pot. Release pressure manually.
  4. Finally, in a small pan, heat the coconut oil and when hot add the mustard seeds (if adding). When spluttered, add the fresh curry leaves and turn heat off. Add this tempered coconut oil to the curry.
  5. Serve beef curry with rice or rotis!

Kerala Beef Curry(Varatharacha Beef Curry)


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  1. This curry is amazing. I made it yesterday and it tasted fantastic. I put it away so it could really get good in the fridge and we plan to have it for dinner tonight. The house smelled like we were at home with our family in Mumbai. I closed my eyes, took a spoonful and was transported to India. Thank you! It’s so good to have an AIP curry.

    • Thanks so much Colleen. I am so happy to hear that you loved the curry and it reminded you of your family in Mumbai! So awesome! That’s what food does to you right? Brings back all great memories! Btw, I grew up in Mumbai too 🙂

    • Hi Tina, thanks for pointing that put. I apologize – I forgot to mention how to make the ginger garlic paste. i have added that piece to the recipe. Hope it is clear now! thanks and sorry! Hope you were able to make this curry! Pls lmk how it came out!

  2. I have been scouring the internet for Indian adapted AIP recipes for my husband without much luck.. I just found this! It looks so yummy, can’t wait to try this.. Thanks!

    • thanks for your comment! I am so glad that you like this. I hope you get to try this for your husband soon! Do let me know how your husband likes it! I have many other Indian inspired AIP recipes on my site. You can go to recipe Index and click on Paleo and then AIP. Good Luck!

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