Beef Rendang

We had a fully Malaysian dinner party recently, and I decided to make a beef rendang for the main. I have made this dish a few times before, and I have been quite disappointed in the way it has turned out before. A beef rendang is sort of a beef stew, but the rendang curry has to be quite dry at the end. Obviously, when you slow cook things, you’re often left with a fairly watery gravy, and if you keep the beef in with the gravy to cook down, you could end up with little beef bullets.

Having had these experiences in the past, I decided to make this dish Mexican style – where I cooked the paste down to it’s desired dry-ness, and pan-fried the steaks, resting, then slicing it up. I then heaped all of my speak slices onto the serving plate and put the rendang paste on top.

I really loved the taste and texture of the rendang in the end, it was so beautifully caramelised, and reminded exactly of rendang from back home in Malaysia.

Unfortunately, due to the way I cooked the beef, it did not make for good leftovers. The next time I make this rendang, I will try sealing the beef chunks in the pan first, then popping them into a pressure cooker with the cooked rendang paste and some water. Then once it is all cooked, I will remove the rendang curry and cook it down till it’s dry in a large pan.

Serves: 8 people

Prep-time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour


1 kg beef rump steak
5 tablespoons cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick (about 2-inch long)
3 cloves
3 star anise
3 cardamom pods
1 cup  coconut milk
1 cup water
2 teaspoons tamarind pulp (soaked in some warm water for the juice and discard the seeds )
6 kaffir lime leaves
6 tablespoons kerisik (toasted dessicated coconut – To prepare the kerisik or toasted coconut, just add the grated coconut to a dry wok and stir continuously until they turn golden brown.)
1 tablespoon palm sugar to taste
Salt to taste

Spice Paste:

5 shallots
1 inch galangal
3 lemongrass (white part only)
5 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger
5-6 dried chilies (soaked in hot water and seeded)


  1. Chop the spice paste ingredients and then blend it in a food processor until fine.
  2. Heat the oil in a stew pot, add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and cardamom and stir-fry them until aromatic. Make sure you cook down this spice paste until it turns brown, you are essentially trying to caramelise the shallots in the paste. It will take a while, and a lot of stirring and scraping.
  3. Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice, water, and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the paste becomes dry and the oil starts to separate from the mixture.
  4. Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted dessicated coconut), sugar/palm sugar, and stir.
  5. Add salt to taste. If not sweet enough, add more sugar to taste.
  6. Fry beef in a separate pan, 3 minutes on each side. Transfer to a tray lined with aluminium foil. Cover beef with aluminium foil and rest for 5 minutes. Once rested, slice beef steaks into thin slices. Place on serving plate and top with cooked spice paste.
  7. Serve immediately with steamed rice/roti jala and save some for overnight.

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