Beef Rendang – Recipe

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Inspired by my travels to Indonesia, this is a spicy, fragrant caramelised beef stew. Originating as a ceremonial dish of the Minangkabau people, rendang is now ubiquitous in the region, served at roadside stalls and padang restaurants with rice, egg and cassava leaf. Allow at least 2 hours for cooking. Serves 6.

The Galloping Gastronaut at Prambanan hindu temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The Galloping Gastronaut at Prambanan hindu temple in Yogyakarta, Indonesia


  • 2 lemongrass stalks, roughly chopped
  • 2 medium red onions, quartered
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 25g fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 75g chunk galangal , peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 red chillies, roughly chopped (do not deseed)
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1.5kg braising beef, trimmed and cut into chunks
  • 400ml can coconut milk
  • 4 fresh kaffir lime leaves (or 8 dried)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp tamarind paste
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ground black pepper


  • Blend the lemongrass, onions, garlic, ginger, galangal and chillies to a fine paste in a food processor.
  • Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry the paste gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric and cook for two minutes.
  • Add the beef to the pan and stir to coat.
  • Cook for five minutes until the meat is very lightly browned.
  • Pour the coconut milk and 400ml water into the casserole. Add the lime leaves, cinnamon stick, sugar, tamarind paste, soy sauce and salt and bring to a simmer.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and the sauce is very thick (stir occasionally throughout). The coconut milk will reduce to form an unctuous stew. Season to taste.
  • Extract the lime leaves and cinnamon stick before serving. Serve with jasmine rice (I add a little coconut milk to mine), steamed greens and sambal oelek.

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