This recipe is a simple Goan-style curry, and if you like the flavors of Goa, I encourage you to also make my version of the Goan garam masala. If you have this spice mix on hand, the ingredient list for this Goan masala is short. If you would also like to try a Kerala spiced beef curry, see my Kerala-Style Beef Curry..
While eating beef in India is not common, there are a few states it is eaten. Goan Muslims and Christians account for roughly one-third of Goa's population, and they love their beef.
I’ve styled this red beef curry after the Goan beef baffad (buffad, or bafado). Karen Ahmed’s beef baffad curry recipe posted on her vlog "Kravings," inspired this recipe. It is rich and flavorful with the fragrance of cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom, a bit of tang from tamarind and vinegar, and finished with a good hit of spice from black pepper and dried, whole Kashmiri chilies. And if you would like to try a beef curry from the state of Kerala, try my Instant Pot Kerala beef curry.
What I love about Goan red beef curry
- This beef stew is vibrant with the flavors of Goa
- It is easy to make
- There are no hard-to-find ingredients
- You can make it on the stovetop, in the oven, Instant Pot, or slow cooker
- It is the perfect make-ahead dish to surprise and delight guests
The protein: If you are not a beef eater, bone-in, skinless chicken thighs, pork, or even lamb works beautifully with this delicious masala. However, you will need to adjust your cook times.
When using beef: In a perfect world, you would use beef chuck roast and cut it up into 2-inch cubes (or the size that makes you happy). However, sadly we are not always living in such a world. In that case, buying already cut stew meat will give very satisfactory results. By the way, if buying a whole roast, I get an additional 1/2 pound to account for the fat that needs to be removed.
The souring agent: Tamarind is typically used, however, you can use an equal amount of lemon or lime juice. I use the Tamicon tamarind concentrate, but an equal amount of paste will work also. If you are using a block of tamarind, measure a Key lime size, about 1.4 inches (3.5cm) diameter, 1-1/8 ounce (32 grams), or fills 1-1/2 tablespoons.
The spices for a Goan curry sauce: I like to use my homemade Goan garam masala if I have it on hand. Otherwise, I have a simple spice mix of whole spices that you toast and grind. These are cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, and cumin.
The chilies: The liveliness in this curry is from a combination of fresh green chilies, black pepper, and dried Kashmiri red chilies. Add more or less to your taste, as usual.
- Fresh chilies: I use four small green chilies I find at my local Indian grocery, but Serranos or even jalapeños are good substitutes. Since I like to start my recipes on the mild side, two teaspoons of minced chili is a good place to start.
- Dried chilies: Since Kashmiri chiles are not very hot, if you need a substitution, pop over to see some suggestions on Gourmet Sleuth's chili scale. I think an Amarillo or guajillo chili might do the trick or increase the ground black pepper. If you can't find whole Kashmiri chilies, each chili equals 1/2 teaspoon of ground Kasmiri powder.
The liquid: Many red beef curry recipes call for beef stock, but I like to use a combination of stock and coconut milk.
The fat: I like to use coconut oil, but ghee or your favorite oil will do the trick.
Cook three ways
One of the beauties of Goan beef curry is that make it successfully in three different ways (four if you count both on the stovetop and in the oven). So you can choose, depending on the time you have and how you like to cook.
How long it takes for your meat to get tender depends on cube size, your pot, and your equipment. The prep and cooking times listed below are for the Instant Pot cooking method. The stove and slow cooker methods will take longer, so factor that in when planning your cook. Here is how to make it:
All three ways begin the same by caramelizing the onions to a beautiful dark brown. This takes time, but it is a crucial step, so no cheating. If you are short on time you might brown the onions a day or two ahead.
While the onions are cooking, put together your sauce ingredients. If you don't have a homemade Goan garam masala, measure, toast, and grind the spices needed for this recipe.
Briefly cook the ginger, garlic, and minced green chili. Then combine all the rest ingredients.
Stovetop and Oven
IMPORTANT: Cover and bake in a preheated oven on 325°F (160°C) for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the beef is tender. You can also use your stovetop to cook this beef stew.
Cook the beef curry on High Pressure for 40 minutes, then on Natural Pressure Release for 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thin for your liking, remove the beef and cook on the sauté mode until it thickens.
Cook the curry on high for 4 to 6 hours, or low for 8 to 10 hours until the beef is tender. My preference is to cook in a slow cooker if I am organized. All that is required is the initial 25-minute prep, pop everything in the slow cooker and cook.
Taste for salt, vinegar, and heat levels, adding ground black pepper or red chili as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! The most common vegetable is peeled potatoes cut into 1-inch cubes and stirred in the mixture when ready to cook the curry. This makes a lovely twist on meat and potatoes for dinner.
Not only can, but it is even better the next day, as with many curries.
Yes, it was a happy twist on typical comfort food. I used the slow cooker and made slits in the roast to allow the spices to penetrate. It was yummy!
While the homemade garam masala is more complex and nuanced, this dish has so many flavor components that it will still be rich and vibrant with the recipe's spice mix!
What are the spices used in Goa?
I must preface this subject by saying the following are general guidelines. Each cook will have his or her favorite spice combination:
Goan cooks mostly rely on coriander, dried red chilies, black peppercorns, fennel, and star anise, along with small amounts of cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and mace for their unique blend of flavors. Here is a recipe for MyIndianStove's Goan garam masala.
If you would like see how spice mixtures change from one region of Indian to another, take a look at MyIndianStove's Kerala garam masala.
For non-Indians, the garam masala we are most familiar with comes from Northern India. This combination starts with a large amount of coriander seeds and adds smaller measures of cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, fennel, and cloves. Here is a recipe for MyIndianStove's North Indian-style garam masala.
Try these Goan recipes too!
Did you try this recipe? I’d love to hear about it! Please rate by clicking stars ⭐️ on the recipe card and/or let me know in the comments below. Thank you! ~Alonna
Recipe Card 📖
Easy, Rich Goan Beef Curry (Buffad)
- 2 tablespoons ghee ~ Or oil
- 1 1/2 cup onions ~ Thinly sliced
Spices OR 1 1/2 tablespoons Goan Garam Masala
- 5 to 8 dried red Kashmiri chilies ~ See Notes below
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 1-inch stick of cinnamon
- 2 whole cardamom
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 pounds beef ~ Cut in 1 1/2 to 2-inch cubes
- 2 teaspoons Indian green chilies ~ Minced, to taste. See more detail above.
- 1/4 cup ginger garlic paste ~ Or 2 tablespoons each garlic & ginger purée. Make!
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon tamarind paste ~ See Notes below
- 1 tablespoon vinegar ~ Cider, malt, or white
- 1 1/4 teaspoons sea or table salt ~ Or to taste, see substitutions
- 1 cup beef stock ~ Coconut milk or a combination (add another 1/2 cup liquid if cooking on or in the stove)
- 8 ounces potatoes ~ Optional, peeled, and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon sugar ~ Optional, to taste
- Gather your ingredients.
Cook the Onions
- Heat the ghee or oil to a sauté or frying pan over medium heat and add the onions. Cook them until dark and caramelized, stirring occasionally; this will take about 18 to 20 minutes.
- While the onions are cooking, if you aren't using a homemade Goan garam masala (1 1/2 tablespoons), toast the whole spices over medium heat until fragrant; about 2 to 4 minutes. Allow to cool for 5 minutes and grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. tablespoons .
- When the onions are caramelized add the green chilies and ginger garlic paste. Cook for several minutes until the garlic no longer smells raw. Then add the ground spices and the 2 tablespoons of water if the spices are sticking to the pan. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until the spices are cooked through.
- Combine the beef stock, tamarind, vinegar, coconut milk (if using), and salt. Add your beef (and potatoes, if using) to the Instant Pot, dutch oven, or slow cooker and stir in the sauce mixture.
Instant Pot Cooking Instructions
- Cook the beef curry on High Pressure for 40 minutes, then on Natural Pressure Release for 10 minutes. If the sauce is too thin for your liking, remove the beef and turn the Instant Pot to sauté for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens the way you want it.
Stove Cooking Instructions
- IMPORTANT: Be sure to add an additional 1/2 cup of liquid ( water, stock, or coconut milk). Cover with a lid and bake in a preheated oven on 325°F (160°C) for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the beef is tender. If you prefer to use your cooktop instead of the oven, cover and cook over low heat in a heavy dutch oven.
Slow Cooking Instructions
- Cook the curry on High for 4 to 6 hours, or Low for 8 to 10 hours until the beef is tender.
Finishing the Curry
- Taste for salt, vinegar, and heat levels, adding ground black pepper or red chili as needed. Serve with rice and/or your favorite flatbread.
- Goan garam masala: If you are using my Goan garam masala, 1 1/2 tablespoons replaces all the spices except you will need except the dried chilies. Remove the seeds and toast 2 (more to taste) whole dried red Kashmiri chilies. Grind into a powder and add them to garam masala. As a shortcut, add a teaspoon of ground Kashmiri chili powder or 1/4 teaspoon cayenne.
- Tamarind equivalents: I like the Tamicon tamarind concentrate, but an equal amount of paste will work also. If you are using a block of tamarind, measure a Key lime size, about 1.4 inches (3.5cm) diameter, 1-1/8 ounce (32 grams), or fills 1-1/2 tablespoons. You can also use 1 tablespoon of lemon or lime juice.