Beef Rendang

Would I say I am qualified to write a recipe for this? Probably not. There will be many recipes out there that are tastier, more authentic, use the correct ingredients – I could go on. But when push comes to shove, this ‘rendition’ of rendang is simple to make at home and I had almost all the ingredients in the cupboard.  It does look like a lot of ingredients but all you need to do is throw some of them in the food processer and the other half in a pot and you are done. I have made some substitutions based on other recipes I found online and in books, yet the end outcome still looked and tasted like a rendang – from what I can tell! There’s the requisite split of oil from the rest of the sauce at the end, giving it the appearance of rich, flavoursome meat instead of bits of meat floating in curry. It cooks slowly for about 2 hours, speedy for slow cooked beef, enabling the meat to fall apart and the flavour to be quite delicious.



  • Beef Chuck – approx. 800gm (cut into large chunks, about the size of a very small bread roll from a buffet)

For the paste:

  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 piece of ginger, roughly the size of two thumbs, grated (there is also a requirement in the recipe for galangal which is quite difficult to find at supermarkets, so I didn’t use it)
  • Chillis – most recipes call for dried whole chillis but who has them? If you have them great, otherwise I used 2 fresh chillis, seeds removed, roughly chopped and then 2 tsps of Kashmiri chilli powder which is not as hot as regular chilli powder, or you could use 1 tsp of cayenne pepper.
  • Lemongrass – use the lower white stems of 3-4 stalks. Chop finely.
  • 2 tbsp of oil (I used vegetable oil)
  • Salt – important to help bring out the flavours here

Put everything into a food processor or mini chopper machine and blitz until it is the finest paste you can realistically achieve. Look out for the chunks of lemongrass, you want this pulverised.

Other ingredients

  • 3 star anise
  • 2 cinnamon sticks, or 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 4 cloves, bashed to a rough powder in a mortar and pestle (or a pinch of ground cloves if you have them). Alternatively, just throw the cloves in whole but remember to fish them out – but a word of warning, it won’t be easy at the end as the colour is quite dark.
  • 4 cardamom pods, press down on each of these with a knife to release the flavour inside (if you don’t have cardamom, it is not the end of the world, just leave it out)
  • 1 stick of lemongrass, bashed
  • Tamarind – whatever product you have to hand – I have some sort of basic
  • Tamarind sauce that I keep in the fridge, and I used about 2 tsp of it here
  • Kaffir lime leaves – I didn’t have them and I wish I did, but if you have them, chop about 4 here
  • 1 tin of Coconut milk – I have this solid coconut product which I love, so I added about 2 tbsp of that with 2 small glasses of water to create a liquid
  • 3 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • Salt


First make the paste. Pop the paste ingredients into a food processor and blitz til you have a fine paste.

Take a large dish that you can both heat on an element and cover (a large Le Crueset style pan is perfect here) and heat some oil over high heat. Brown the beef in batches, taking care not to overcrowd the pan and set aside.

Remove the beef and tip the paste into the oil. Cook the paste over medium heat for around 5 minutes, making sure to stir regularly. Now add all the other ingredients as they are. Tip the beef back into the mixture, bring to a boil, then turn the heat right down to low and cover with the lid. This will now cook for 2 hours. Stir occasionally to prevent it sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook everything until the beef starts to fall apart and the sauce changes from being a lighter coconuty curry to a darker sauce, where the meat is the predominant presence in the pan and you can visibly see that the oil has split from the rest of the ingredients.

Now this is ready to serve. I serve it with rice and some of those deep fried shallots on top as a garnish.

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