Sylheti beef

Sylheti beef

The Curry Guy
4 or more as part of a multi-course meal

Whenever I go out to a Bangladeshi-run curry house, I look for their shatkora curries. I absolutely love the intensely tangy shatkora fruit. These are available frozen from Asian grocers and, when in season, they can often be purchased fresh. If you have trouble finding them, you could substitute shatkora pickle or, if all else fails, quartered limes, but the flavour will not be the same.

This is a popular beef curry that, when prepared like this, is usually made in bulk and promoted as a house special. Not only does the beef need to cook until tender, but the shatkora require a long simmer so that they are not tough, and also to release their flavour into the sauce. Only the rind of the fruit is used, because the pulp is terribly bitter. If you have a couple of beef marrow bones, throw them into the dish as it simmers.

This recipe was inspired by a visit to Omar’s, a small curry house in Hatfield Peverel. It may be small but the curries I enjoyed there are right up there with the best!


Quantity Ingredient
3 tablespoons rapeseed oil
or seasoned oil
2 black cardamom pods, lightly bruised
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Garlic and ginger paste
3 tablespoons Tomato purée
1 teaspoon each ground turmeric, cumin, coriander, medium chilli powder and paprika
800g beef topside, cut into bite-sized pieces
750ml Spice stock, plus a little more if required
1/4 shatkora, outer rind only, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon Garam masala
chopped coriander leaves, to finish


  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. When hot, toss in the cardamom pods and, after about 30 seconds, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until soft, translucent and lightly browned.
  2. Now add the garlic and ginger paste and fry for a further minute, stirring. Add the tomato purée and the ground spices, and cook for another minute. Add the beef and about 250ml of the spice stock. Boil it all for about 5 minutes then add the remaining spice stock and the shatkora rind.
  3. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45–60 minutes, or until the sauce reduces to a fairly thick consistency and the meat is tender. Add more spice stock if needed.
  4. To serve, add the garam masala, and salt to taste and top with the chopped coriander.


  • In the UK, most people prefer their curries cooked with meat off the bone, but this recipe is sometimes made using beef ribs. If you like ribs, give them a go. You’ll love the beefy ribs in this sauce.
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