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Recipe for Rendang

PREP TIME: 20 mins | COOK TIME: 3 hours | TOTAL TIME: 3 hours 20 mins

Beef Rendang is an Indonesia curry and is an extravagantly rich dish that is easy to prepare but takes time and patience to slow cook. Unlike many curries, this is a "dry" curry which means the beef is not swimming in sauce. Though you may think that the sauce is often the best part of a curry, the beef is "fall apart at a touch" tender and covered in a thick, saucy curry which then mixes through the rice so it is not in the least bit "dry"! This can be made in a slow cooker (see notes) but I recommend making this on the stove for best results.


2 lb / 1 kg chuck steak, brisket or other slow cooking beef, cut into large cubes (around the size of ping pong balls. [You can use any slow cooking cut of beef for this recipe such as chuck, gravy beef or beef cheeks. It is best to buy one piece and cut it yourself into large cubes about the size of ping pong balls. Larger cubes are better for this dish because this is not only slow cooked but also cooked down to reduce the sauce to almost a "paste" like consistency and if you use small pieces of beef, they may fall apart and shred in the pot when you stir the curry. It is much easier to handle larger pieces.]

1 tbsp oil (vegetable, peanut, canola) 1 cinnamon stick 3 cloves 3 star anise 3 cardamon pods (or ½ tsp of cardamon powder) 1 lemongrass stick, bottom half of the stick only and smashed [Smash the lemongrass to help the flavour infuse into the curry. Use the side of your knife, a meat mallet or a tin.]

14 oz / 400 ml can coconut milk [You can make up the coconut milk using coconut powder and water. Coconut powder is available in the Asian section or canned vegetable section of supermarkets. It is better value than canned coconut powder, plus you can just make up as much coconut milk as you need.]

2 tsp tamarind puree, or tamarind pulp soaked in 1 tbsp of hot water, seeds removed [Tamarind puree is made from tamarind fruit. It is quite tart, but not as sour as lemon. You can buy tamarind puree from the Asian section of large supermarkets in Australia (or Asian grocery stores). If you are using tamarind pulp (sticky block of dried tamarind), soak it in 2 tbsp of hot water and remove the seeds, then use as per recipe directions. You can substitute the tamarind with 2 tsp of verjuice, OR 2 tsp of vinegar (white or brown, but not balsamic) or lemon juice plus 1 tsp sugar.]

4 large / 6 small kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced [Kaffir Lime Leaves - there is no substitute for the earthy lime flavour you get from fresh kaffir lime leaves so I really recommend buying fresh ones. They freeze well and last for ages and are commonly found in many South East Asian dishes. You can substitute with dried kaffir lime leaves. As a last resort, you can use 1 tbsp of lime juice + the rind of 1 lime, but the flavour will not be the same.]

⅓ cup desicated coconut (finely shredded coconut) 1 tbsp brown sugar 1½ tsp salt

Spice Paste 12 dried chilies, soaked in boiling water and deseeded OR 6 fresh long red chillies, deseeded and chopped [You can adjust the level of spiciness to your taste.]

1 onion (brown, yellow, white), finely chopped OR 6 shallots/eschallots chopped 3 lemongrass stalks, white part only, sliced 5 cloves garlic, minced 1½ tbsp fresh galangal, finely chopped [Galangal is like ginger but it has a more sour and peppery flavour. If you can't find it, just substitute with more ginger and a grind of black pepper.]

1½ tbsp fresh ginger, minced 2 tbsp oil (vegetable, canola or peanut oil)


  1. Place Spice Paste ingredients in a small food processor and whizz until fine.

  2. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large heavy based pot over medium-high heat.

  3. Add Spice Paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and cardamon pods. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant, being careful not to burn the spice paste.

  4. Turn heat up to high. Add beef and sear, stirring to sear all sides of each piece of beef until they are dark brown. The colour from the sear will add to the colour of the curry.

  5. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

  6. Bring to simmer, then immediately turn down the heat to low or medium low so the sauce is bubbling very gently.

  7. Put the lid on the pot and leave it to simmer for 1½ to 2 hours.

  8. Remove lid and check the beef to see how tender it is. You don't want it to be "fall apart at a touch" at this stage. If it is, remove the beef from the pot before proceeding.

  9. Turn the heat up to medium and let the sauce simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, to reduce down to a thick sauce that coats the beef cubes. Keep an eye on it at this stage because you don't want the sauce to burn. Beef Rendang is a dry curry and it is not supposed to be saucy, the concentrated flavour of the curry should be like a thick paste that coats the beef cubes.

  10. By this time, the beef should be "fall apart at a touch".

  11. Remove from heat and serve with


To make this in a slow cooker, do the steps up to searing the beef in a pan then pour the contents in your slow cooker. Pour the water into the pan and bring to simmer, making sure to scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan to mix in with the water, then pour the water into the slow cooker (make sure you scrape in as much of the brown bits as you can!). Slow cook on low for 6 hours (or pressure cook on high for 30 minutes). Then pour the curry into a pot and follow the recipe steps to reduce the sauce. A simple lightly pickled cucumber side dish that goes with this well: Slice cucumbers on the diagonal and place into a bowl. For each cucumber you are using, sprinkle over 1 tsp of rice wine vinegar, a small pinch of salt and white sugar (each). Leave to lightly pickle for at least 20 minutes, up to 24 hours.


Makes: 5-6 servings

Serving size: 323g

Calories: 675cal

Fat: 42.1g

Saturated fat: 24.7g

Unsaturated fat: 17.4g

Trans fat: 0g

Carbohydrates: 10.9g

Sugar: 5.4g

Sodium: 847mg

Fiber: 3.1g

Protein: 63.4g

Cholesterol: 179mg

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