Cornet of black pepper beef

Cornet of black pepper beef

My Feast
Chris Chen

Passing around a large platter of these betel leaves is a great way to start a party. When we were in Matale filming my Sri Lanka, these snacks were created under great duress. Although the footage of cooking this dish was stunning, it had been raining for the past week, the country was in turmoil, people were displaced and there were landslides and floods everywhere. We were at a pepper and vanilla plantation and what you could not see was that our shoes were completely submerged in the mud — the magic of television made the backdrop look idyllic.


Quantity Ingredient
250g beef, thinly sliced against the grain
3 kochi chillies or hot green chillies, thinly sliced
1 lime, juiced
50g cracked black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 betel leaves, (see glossary)
1 teaspoon fresh or tinned green peppercorns
100ml vegetable oil
1 sprig curry leaves, leaves picked
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 tomatoes, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 red capsicum, seeds removed and thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeds removed and sliced into thin batons
2 french shallots, sliced
1/4 bunch coriander, leaves picked
2 spring onions, cut into 10 cm lengths


  1. Place the beef, chilli and lime juice in a bowl and toss to coat. Add the black peppercorns and salt and toss again. Set aside to marinate for 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the betel leaves. Form a leaf, presentation side facing out, into a cone shape and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with the remaining leaves.
  3. Add the green peppercorns to the beef and stir to combine.
  4. Heat the oil in a wok over high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the garlic, curry leaves and onion. Once the garlic has browned, add the beef and stir constantly, making sure the heat of the wok doesn’t decrease. Remove the beef from the wok after a few minutes or once it has browned.
  5. To serve, place a small portion of the beef in each betel leaf cone and insert the tomato, capsicum, cucumber, shallot, coriander and spring onion inside.
My Sri Lanka
Island Feast
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