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Lavyann frir - Beef Stew with Potatoes

My maternal grandmother was nicknamed "Chotan", which loosely translates to "little one". She was the pickiest eater I have ever known. She basically only ate (1) rice, (2) lentils, (3) homemade potato chips, (4) mangoes, (5) papayas, (6) bananas, and occasionally (7) eggs. Her mother was to blame, my great-grandmother, but unfortunately I sympathize with my great-grandmother's plight. Chotan was the youngest of seven children. If I had seven kids, I would have given up by the end as well. So Chotan was indulged, and managed to get away with a lifetime of more-or-less 5-7 things as her entire diet, washed down with tea, of course.

While I could make this post about how my sister and I terrorized the poor woman by making her try foods she had successfully avoided for seven decades (strawberries, for example), I choose to focus on her cooking. Chotan may have been the fussiest eater known to mankind but she could make a mean meat and potato stew...which, of course, she did not herself ever eat.

This stew is made in a pressure cooker, so the meat and potatoes cook in 15-20 minutes. One could serve this with rice and some salad as a main course. My preference is to accompany this as the protein with a meal consisting of lentils and rice, with some dressed cucumber and radishes on the side.


Serves 4 as a side or 2 as a main

  • 1 Ib beef, sliced (440g)

  • 1 large white onion, chopped

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil

  • 2 tablespoon butter

  • 2 medium potatoes, large dice

  • 1 tsp dried thyme

  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 tsp ground ginger (1 inch ginger)

  • 2 tsp ground garlic (3 garlic cloves)

  • 1 cup water

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

A note on the beef: My preference is beef brisket, which I buy whole from my butcher. I prefer to slice it up myself so I have control over the fat content and thickness, but you can ask your butcher to do this for you.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pressure cooker on medium-high heat. Roughly chop a large white onion and add it to the pot. Let the onions fry til the edges become golden brown; don't rush it, this adds good flavor.

While that cooks, peel then roughly dice two medium potatoes. Mince up a few cloves of garlic and an inch of ginger (or use 2 teaspoons each of this and this!)

When the onions are golden, add in 2 tablespoons of butter and the sliced beef. Then add the diced potatoes, minced ginger and garlic, one teaspoon of dried thyme, and one tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Give everything a stir so the meat seals on all sides.

Once the meat is sealed, pour in one cup of water and close the pressure cooker. Leave the pot cooking on high heat till the pot starts to whistle. Then reduce the heat to low and set a timer for 15 minutes. The pot may release steam on occasion.

When the cooking time has elapsed, release all the steam from the pot and carefully open it. Check that the potatoes and meat are cooked through. Season with one teaspoon of salt, (or more to taste!) and lots of freshly cracked black pepper.

Some people like the stew more watery so it can be spooned over rice (as above in the picture). I prefer to turn up the heat at this stage and let some of the liquid evaporate so the stew thickens a bit. This is down to personal preference so do what feels right!

Chotan with me and Asiya

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