The Urban Rajah’s Curry Memoirs

Beef Bughela

The Urban Rajah’s

Curry Memoirs


Ivor Peters

Spices close up 

Ivor Peters, know as the ‘Urban Rajah’ describes himself as a food author, cook, traveller and lifestyle adventurer.  His childhood in 70’s Britain was full of fish fingers and baked beans mixed with traditional Indian food kept alive by his family.  He has assembled a charming collection of curry recipes that reflect his life in Britain.  This is so much more than a simple recipe book.  Ivor takes us through his formative years and the desire of his émigré parents for food from home that led to the creation of family favourites, some traditional others adjusted to suit availability of ingredients.  The story unfolds like a photo album with notable events crystallised with special creations of food and drink.  There are quirky names for dishes such as Cricket Chicken, Cauliflower with a Temper and Kismet Korma.  As the family story unravels it makes you feel more confident in your own cooking, seeing how others have experimented.  This is a wonderful book for not only the kitchen, but also any room in the house.

Cumin seeds

I became quite inspired reading through the fascinating pages of Ivor’s life and the story of the food that he so loves that I decided to have a go at cooking Beef Bughela because it has a couple of unusual steps that intrigued me.  I hope you enjoy cooking and eating this as much as I did.  I made basmati rice and a tomato and cucumber raita (recipe in book) to eat with this splendid curry.

Red and green chillies c/u

A note to all who cook this at home, it will fill your house with the most fantastic smells for hours that will drive you mad.  You must be patient and wait – it’s worth it!

Tomato and cucumber raita

A wonderful stocking filler for Christmas, this is a must for any Asian food lover. The following text of the recipe is reproduced in full by kind permission of Ivor Peters.

Ingredients in pot



Serves four and then some


1kg stewing beef, chopped

2 medium onions

3 garlic cloves, chopped

3 green chillies, chopped

5cm fresh root ginger peeled and sliced into matchsticks

1 tsp garam masala

2 tsp medium curry powder

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tbsp whole garam masala (2 tsp cumin seeds, 1 tsp cloves, 2 tsp whole coriander seeds, I tsp whole pepper)

2 tsp sunflower oil

500g natural yoghurt, fork whipped at room temperature

Big scooped handful of fresh chopped coriander

Pot boiling

This method of cooking relies on the balance of water and spice.  It’s an unusual way of measuring water quantities but as pot sizes vary it’s best to follow this traditional technique.

Put the beef in a large pot and mark 5cm above the height of the beef.  Remove the beef and fill the pot with salted water up to the measured point.  Bring the water to the boil and add the beef (really important you do not brown it or you’ll screw the dish up).  Continue boiling on a medium heat until all the yucky foam reaches the surface, scooping it off with a slotted spoon until water is clear, then boil for a further 30 minutes.  Throughout the process, leave the pot uncovered – you’re looking to produce an intense, reduced sauce.

Slide in the onions, garlic, chilli and ginger and cook for 30 minutes on a low heat; the water will reduce a little.  Gently stir.  Add the ground garam masala, curry powder and ground coriander and cook for a further 30 minutes.  It takes a while but stick with it.

Drop in the whole garam masala and cook for 20 minutes, then incrementally add the yoghurt tablespoon by tablespoon, stirring gently each time, making sure it’s assimilated and doesn’t curdle and get gritty.  Keep stirring, then add a glug of oil until it rises to the top and the curry looks silky.  The beef should be tender and almost flaky.  Lastly, add the chopped coriander and stir it in.  It’ll finish off the curry beautifully.  Eat with hot chapattis.

Completed Dish

You can catch up with Ivor at The Great Indian Food Feast

Spices on round board Curry powder







About Neil

Neil is a food and travel writer and photographer based in London, UK. He's Food & Travel Editor at Families Magazine, as well as a full-time blogger on this site. Impressed? Then you might like to hire his services.

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