Slice the sirloin against the grain into ½-inch slices, then flatten the slices with either the back of your knife or a meat mallet until they’re a little over ¼ inch thick. Set aside in a bowl.
Grind the peppercorns, cloves and cinnamon stick in a spice grinder into a fine powder. Tap the spice mixture into a small bowl and add the cayenne, vinegar and 1teaspoon kosher salt, stirring to produce a wet, sand-like paste. Massage this paste onto the beef, making sure that every piece is equally covered, and set aside on a plate at room temperature for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large cast-iron skillet, warm the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté until the onion is softened and translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the ginger and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onion turns a soft amber and smells sweet, 4 to 5 minutes.
Arrange the onions in an even layer and place the beef over the onions in an even layer. Cook for about 3 minutes, or until the underside has browned slightly and the onions have started releasing their juices.
Stir it all together and cook for a minute more. Add the tomato and cook, stirring every now and then, until the tomato begins to wilt and the skin rolls back from the flesh a little, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and let the whole thing sit for 5 minutes, so that the tomato can melt a little more and make a light gravy. Add the water and scrape the bottom of the pan to create more gravy. Finish with cilantro and tuck the mixture into the rolls. Serve immediately!
Smoorti Tip: If you’re out of cloves and cinnamon, mix 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper with ½ teaspoon garam masala!
Excerpted from AARTI PAARTI by Aarti Sequeira.
Copyright © 2014 by Aarti Sequeira. Used with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.