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Maria Bradford’s braised beef short ribs in peanut and coconut milk recipe

Cook this low and slow for tender ribs.

(Yuki Sugiura/PA)

“The coconut is a truly tropical fruit, which spread on its own to tropic coastal zones all over the world. The flesh and milk from coconuts are widely used in African cooking in relishes, sauces, desserts – you name it,” says Maria Bradford, author of Sweet Salone.

Braised beef short ribs in peanut and coconut milk


(Serves 5)

  • 5 beef short ribs

  • 2tbsp sunflower oil

  • Steamed coconut rice or fonio, to serve

  • Salt

For the peanut and coconut sauce:

  • 2¼tsp cumin seeds

  • ¾tbsp coriander seeds

  • 1tsp West African Pepper Blend (see below)

  • ¾tbsp curry powder

  • 3½tbsp coconut oil

  • 2½–3 large onions, finely chopped

  • 25g garlic, grated

  • 25g ginger, grated

  • 1–2 Scotch bonnet chillies, seeds left in, finely chopped

  • 45g tomato purée

  • 250g fresh tomatoes, chopped

  • ½tsp coconut sugar

  • 300ml coconut milk

  • 3 bay leaves

  • 3 thyme sprigs

  • 100g unsalted smooth peanut butter (use one without palm oil)

  • 500ml beef stock

For the West African pepper blend:

  • 2½ grains of paradise

  • 2tbsp black peppercorns

  • 2tbsp white peppercorns

  • 1tbsp cubeb pepper

  • 3tbsp allspice berries


1. For the West African pepper blend: Toast all the peppercorns in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant. Allow to cool, then grind in a spice grinder or pestle and mortar. Store in an airtight jar. It will stay fresh for up to three months.

2. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/130ºC fan/300ºF/gas mark 2.

3. For the sauce, lightly toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a hot, dry frying pan until aromatic. Grind in a pestle and mortar or food processor, combine with the West African Pepper Blend and curry powder and set aside.

4. For the short ribs, heat the sunflower oil in a large frying pan over high heat. Season the short ribs with salt and add to the hot pan, frying on each side until golden brown, turning regularly. The aim here is not to cook them but to sear them and add flavour. Make sure to brown them well all over, then remove and set aside.

5. For the sauce, heat the coconut oil in a large heavy-based casserole or Dutch oven (use one with a lid). Add the onions and cook gently over low-medium heat until caramelised and very sweet. This will take up to 30 minutes and it’s important not to rush this process. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies and cook, stirring, for five minutes more. Add the spices and cook for a further five minutes on low heat, stirring to prevent sticking.

6. Add the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes, coconut sugar, coconut milk, bay leaves, thyme sprigs, peanut butter and beef stock to the pan. Stir well to combine, bring to the boil then add the short ribs to pan, making sure they’re all covered by the sauce.

7. Cover with the lid and cook in the oven for four to five hours or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Remove from the oven, taste and add salt if needed. Serve with steamed coconut rice or fonio.


Sweet Salone by Maria Bradford is published by Quadrille, priced £30. Photography by Yuki Sugiura. Available now.


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