Photo by Michael Kartes

School’s back! You are working hard and need a quick, affordable weeknight dinner. One option I often go with is curry, which is filling, simple to make, and something my whole family loves.

Curry pastes pack big flavor and allow for shortcuts in the kitchen. Plain chicken breast tastes like a masterpiece with a little garlic, olive oil, and heaping tablespoon of either Thai- or Indian-style spice pastes. Beef is so much more when you add coconut milk, spices, veggies, and pour it all over rice — now you’ve got a warm, comforting bowl of goodness. My kids love these flavors. In the Kartes household, we try to regularly use food as a conduit to learn more about the places they come from, too.

This meal is made up of both pantry staples and specialty ingredients. It’ll set you back just $15 to feed a family of four, if you shop smart, and use what you probably already have.

Beef Curry

Prep time 10 minutes

Cool time 20 minutes

Serves 4


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 2 tablespoons Indian-style curry paste
  • 4 to 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 diced Fresno or jalapeño chili
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 4 to 5 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1 pound beef tenderloin or sirloin steak (thinly sliced)
  • 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup heavy cream

Optional Garnishes

  • Chopped cashews
  • Cilantro
  • Limes
  • Sliced chilis


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions in the olive oil, add garam masala, curry paste, garlic, and chilis; cook until fragrant and caramelized, roughly 7 to 10 minutes. Add the veggies, and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the veggies from the pan, and set aside.

Fry the thinly sliced beef until golden brown and caramelized. Add the vegetables back to the pan, along with the meat, then add coconut milk. Simmer for a few minutes, add salt and pepper, and finish with heavy cream. Garnish and enjoy. There it is: fast, simple takeout-style curry at home.