Delicious beef rendang makes an amazing meal
One of my favourite Indonesian curries is rendang. Although beef rendang is the most popular, it can also be made with chicken, lamb and/or vegetables.
I normally use beef short ribs because I love the flavour but today I used sirloin as I had it on hand. Stewing beef could also be used, which is cheaper but, like short ribs takes longer to become tender enough to serve.
The history of the beef rendang…
It is believed that beef rendang and other rendangs for that matter has Indian origins because of the cooking process and spices used.
Indian merchants brought the recipe to Indonesia and there it was adjust to local taste using local ingredients. Ginger was probably originally added instead of galangal and in some beef rendang recipes it still is.
Modern day rendang originated in West Sumatra by the Minangkabau people. Originally it was prepared to take on long journeys as the spices and salt helped preserve the curry.
It is actually better when stored for a few days after cooking though I haven’t tried taking it on a long journey without refrigeration and probably won’t do that anytime soon.
Beef rendang is also hugely popular in Malaysia and Singapore.
Most of the ingredients in an authentic beef rendang can be easily sourced at your local supermarket.
One of the ingredients, kerisik may not be as easily found but it is easy to make. Kerisik is grated, toasted coconut.
To make it, simply add grated fresh or frozen coconut to a dry frying pan and toast it over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant.
About the chillies…
In this authentic beef rendang recipe you use dried and soaked chillies in the rendang paste.
I use about 12 but you should always add chillies to taste! If 12 sounds like too many, use less! You could also add more if you want to turn that zing into a zap.
If you find it difficult to find whole dried chillies, you could just add chilli powder to taste. Chilli powder is one ingredient you can add at any time during cooking. If you add it at the end to top up the heat, just be sure to simmer it in the sauce a while to cook out the raw flavour.
This beef rendang recipe is pretty straight forward and doesn’t require a lot of preparation.
That said, you could always prepare the toasted coconut and chop the beef a couple of days ahead of serving.
I do recommend getting all your ingredients together before starting cooking though. This can also be done ahead of time.
It’s aways best to have all your ingredients in front of you before starting so that you don’t have to start looking for or preparing ingredients while the rendang is cooking.
Step by step photos
I recommend serving this beef rendang with jasmine or fluffy Basmati rice.
- 70ml ( ¼ cup) coconut or rapeseed (canola) oil
- 1 x 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 4 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
- 2 lemon grass stalks, white parts only, thinly sliced
- 800g (28 oz) beef short ribs, sirloin or stewing steak
- 400ml (1 ½ cups) thick tinned (canned) coconut milk
- 250ml (1 cup) water
- 1 ½ tsp tamarind concentrate
- 5 lime leaves, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 6 tbsp toasted fresh or frozen grated coconut (kerisik)
- 1 tsp palm sugar – or more to taste
- salt to taste
- 2 red spur chillies, thinly sliced to garnish
- 3 spring onions (scallions) thinly sliced to garnish
- FOR THE RENDANG PASTE
- 6 shallots, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 inch galangal, roughly chopped
- 2 lime leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 2 lemon grass, white parts only, thinly sliced
- 12 dried red chillies, soaked in water for 20 minutes
- Start by preparing the rendang paste. For ease, you could place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend to a fine paste. For best results, use a pestle and mortar but be warned, this could take about 30 minutes so I usually use a food processor. Set aside until ready to use.
- Heat the oil in a clay pot, wok or large pan over medium-high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the whole spices and allow to infuse into the hot oil for about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the prepared rendang paste and fry for about a minute to cook out the rawness.
- Now add the thinly sliced lemongrass and the beef and stir it all up well to combine. Fry for about 5 minutes to brown and then add the coconut milk and enough water to cover. I usually add about 250ml (1 cup) water and then top it up during cooking as required.
- Stir in the tamarind, toasted coconut (kerisik), sugar and lime leaves and allow to simmer for 60 to 90 minutes depending on the cut of beef you use. Don't rush this as you want the meat to be deliciously tender before serving.
- Season with salt to taste and add more sugar if you want, also to taste. Serve garnished with the sliced spur chillies and spring onions (scallions).
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 639Total Fat: 29gSaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 124mgSodium: 306mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 7gSugar: 21gProtein: 43g