Syrian Beef Stir Fry

The Syrian Christian population in South India is known for its fiery beef and pork dishes using fresh coconut and lots of peppers.

makes 3-4 cups


10-12 oz flank steak (frozen briefly for ease of slicing)

4 Tbsp coconut oil 

1 tsp mustard seeds

generous pinch asafoetida

10-12 whole red chilis

1 tsp crushed black pepper

8-10 kari leaves

1 cup minced onion

½ cup grated coconut

1 small sweet potato, sliced into small wedges or slices

2 Tbsp ginger purée 

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp coriander seeds, whole

1 ½ tsp salt

½ cup coconut milk

2 Tbsp chopped cilantro

juice from one lemon


  1. Slice the beef as thinly as possible and set aside until ready to cook. 
  2. Heat up the coconut oil in a wok or heavy pan. Pop the mustard seeds and then add the asafoetida. Immediately after, add the whole red chilis, crushed black pepper, kari leaves, minced onion and grated coconut. Lower the heat and cook for 3-4 minutes then add the sweet potato, ginger purée, turmeric, coriander seeds and salt. Add the coconut milk then cover the pan; let the mixture simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the sweet potato is cooked through. 
  3. Return the mixture to hight heat and add the beef and cook, stirring frequently for 3-5 minutes or until the beef is no longer pink. Turn the heat off and fold in the cilantro. Squeeze lemon juice and serve. 

ideas / variations

  • Replace beef with thin slices of portable mushroom for a vegetarian option.
  • Sliced lamb or chicken can replace the beef.
  • Instead of coconut oil, use sesame, olive or peanut.