Fragrant beef rendang recipe


No festive occasion is complete without this rich Sumatran dish where beef is cooked to melt-in-the-mouth tenderness in a fragrant coconut gravy. This rendang actually tastes better the next day!


  • 1 cup (100 g) grated fresh coconut
  • 4 tablespoons oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, tender inner part of bottom third only, bruised
  • ½ cinnamon stick (1 ¼ in/3 cm)
  • 2 cloves
  • 4 star anise pods
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 1 lb (500 g) topside or stewing beef, cubed
  • 1 cup (250 ml) thick coconut milk
  • 1 slice asam gelugur or 2 teaspoons dried tamarind pulp soaked in ½ cup (125 ml) water, mashed and strained for juice
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, very thinly sliced 1 turmeric leaf, very thinly sliced
  • 1½ teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
Spice Paste
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tender inner part of bottom third only, sliced
  • ¾ in (2 cm) galangal root, sliced
  • ¾ in (2 cm) ginger, sliced
  • 10 dried chilies, cut into lengths and soaked in warm water
  • 2 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
How to Make It
  1. Dry-fry the grated coconut in a wok or skillet, stirring constantly over low heat for 10 minutes until brown. Grind the coconut in a mortar while it is still hot and crispy. If a little oil oozes out, mix it into the coconut. Set aside.
  2. Grind the Spice Paste ingredients in a mortar or blender, adding a little oil if necessary to keep the blades turning.
  3. Heat the oil over medium heat in a saucepan, add the Spice Paste, lemongrass cinnamon, cloves, star anise and cardamom pods, and stir-fry for 5 to 7 minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add the beef, coconut milk and asam or tamarind juice and stir. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked, about 45 minutes.
  5. Add the lime and turmeric leaves, and the ground coconut, and season with the sugar and soy sauce. Simmer until the meat is very tender and the gravy has dried up, about 1 to 1½ hours. Serve with rice.

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