Beef Rendang

I’ve been looking for a proper and authentic recipe for this dry Malaysian curry for a long time now – and I must have read about 40 recipes for it. And they are all completely different. Some have cardomam, some have turmeric, some have galangal – and some don’t. For this reason, I decided to combine a number of recipes I found. And it turned out great!

Not the prettiest curry I’ll grant you, but is packed full of flavour. The trick with this curry is to keep cooking. When the beef is really tender and the sauce has reduced down so it’s thick and creamy, that is when you would assume you would serve it. But you need to keep going, right until the sauce has gone and the curry is almost dry. You can still pick out all the flavours and the beef is so soft that you don’t feel like you need a sauce as such when you eat it. It’s also best served with moist, sticky rice.

Serves 4. Based on this  and this recipe.

  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tbsp chopped galangal
  • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
  • 1 chopped lemongrass stalk
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 3 chopped red chillies
  • 2 tbsp veg oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1lb 7oz braising steak
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tamarind paste (see below for how to make, if like me, you can’t find it in the shops!)
  • small handful of dessicated coconut
  • juice of a lime

I could only find whole dried tamarind at my greengrocer, instead of tamarind paste. But thankfully, it’s quite easy to make. Tamarind have a hard shell that needs to be removed, much like a peanut. Inside, you’ll find this:

The circular shapes you can see are seeds that also need to be removed, as well as the strings from the outside – so all you are left with is the mushy brown fruit. In order to take the seeds out, they need to be soaked in warm water until soft. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what this looks like.

Ahem. Anyway, when you’ve drained them and taken the seeds out, you can mash it down with a fork and voila – tamrind pulp! Or, if you can find one – buy a jar!!

  1. For the rendang paste, place the onion, ginger, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric and chillies into a food processor. Blend to form a smooth purée.
  2. Heat a wok and add the oil. Fry the paste over a high heat until the paste turns darker and is highly aromatic.
  3. Fry the meat in the paste stirring all the time, until it is well browned.
  4. Pour over the coconut milk and tamarind paste and bring to a gentle simmer, add the kaffir lime leaves.
  5. Season with salt, stir well then reduce to a simmer.
  6. Cook for between one hour and one hour and a half, stirring frequently during this time. The meat should be really tender and the sauce really reduced and rich.
  7. Meanwhile toast the coconut flakes in a dry pan. Keep a close eye on this, as it will burn really quickly. It should be a lovely deep brown colour when ready. Blend to a powder in a small blender or pound in a pestle and mortar. When the rendang is ready stir into the mixture making sure it is well mixed in.
  8. Serve with sticky rice!