Hui beef stew with chickpeas

Serves 4
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Indy Lifestyle Online

Hui is the name given in China to the people of Han Chinese ethnicity who are Muslim. Hui cuisine has strong central-Asian flavours, hence the Sichuan pepper I've used here – add more if you wish. You can make this with lamb or beef, but pick the cuts that take the longest time to cook: ox cheeks, shin, flank, etc.

200g cooked chick peas

3tbsp peanut or vegetable oil

1-1.5kg oxtail, cut into pieces, excess fat removed

5 medium onions, roughly chopped

2 star anise

1tsp Sichuan peppercorns, ground coarsely

2 medium red chillies

2 litres beef stock

4 spring onions, sliced on the angle

2tbsp chopped coriander

Pre-heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7. Season the oxtail and roast in the oven for about 20-25 minutes until nicely coloured. Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a heavy-based saucepan and gently cook the onions for 5-6 minutes until soft. Add the star anise, Sichuan peppercorns, chilli and stock and season lightly. Add the oxtail and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 1-2 hours, skimming regularly and topping up with water if necessary. It's not essential to put an exact time on slow-cooked dishes but check the meat after 1 hours, then add the chick peas and continue simmering until the meat is tender, but not falling off the bone. To serve, add the spring onions and coriander, simmer for a couple of minutes and serve. Serve with rice, noodles or Chinese greens.