Beef Rendang

Voted No. 11 on CNNgo’s World’s 50 most delicious foods is non other than the Beef Rendang! Here’s what CNNgo had to say.. Beef is slowly simmered with coconut milk and a mixture of lemongrass, galangal, garlic, turmeric, ginger and chilies, then left to stew for a few hours to create this dish of tender, flavorful bovine goodness.

Sounds simply amazing doesn’t it? And I think it looks great too!


I’ve learnt this version from my mom in 1993 while I was an undergrad in Brisbane, Australia.. this one dish alone was enough to make me highly popular with the international student community.. don’t even talk about the Ayam Masak Merah, Sayur Lodeh, Nasi Lemak and Chicken Rice that I make on a regular basis! 🙂

Anyways, I thought I might share this version of the recipe with those reading my blog. Hope you might try it one day and enjoy!

Beef Rendang

The Aromatics

  1. 1 stalk lemongrass (bruised)
  2. 3 cloves
  3. 2 star anise
  4. 1 cinnamon stick

The Paste

  1. 2 medium onions
  2. 10 small onions (shallots)
  3. 15-20 dried chilies (soaked for 30 mins)
  4. 5 cloves garlic
  5. 1 1/2 inches galangal/blue ginger
  6. 2 tbsp curry powder (for meat)
  7. 4 stalks lemongrass (only the white parts)
  8. 4 candlenuts (optional)

Other stuff

  1. 800gm beef cubes
  2. 1 cup Oil
  3. 250ml coconut milk
  4. 4-5 kaffir lime leaves (tear by hand and keep 1 aside)
  5. 1/2 cup toasted dessicated coconut
  6. brown sugar
  7. salt


  1. Chop up the ingredients in ‘The Paste’ into smaller bits and grind them up in a food processor.
  2. Heat up oil in wok and add in ‘Aromatics’. Fry till fragrant (1-2 mins).
  3. Add in ‘The Paste’ and fry till ‘pecah minyak’ (10-15 mins). (see below for terms)
  4. Add in beef cubes and mix well. Add in about 2 tbsp of brown sugar and 1 tsp salt.
  5. Let it cook for about 5 mins and add in the coconut milk. Add in 3-4 kaffir lime leaves.
  6. Cover wok, lower flame and let simmer for about 15-20 mins.
  7. Uncover wok and occasionally scrape the base of the wok so that the paste won’t burn.
  8. Cook till the beef is tender and the paste is somewhat dry. Add more salt if needed.
  9. Remove all the ‘aromatics’.
  10. Toss in the toasted dessicated coconut and mix well.
  11. Slice thinly the extra kaffir lime leaf to mix in just before serving and/or to garnish the dish.
  12. Serve with steamed rice (or lemang or ketupat) and other side dishes.


  1. Cooking time depends on the cuts of beef. It can range from 1 hour to 3 hours. Chuck and shin beef requires 2-3 hours of cooking time but are the most affordable cuts. I prefer striploin and only takes about an hour to cook till tender.
  2. The spiciness of chillies are in the seeds, so take care when handling the dried chillies. Cut them in halves and soak in hot water to speed up the softening process. You might want to use a glove and colander to squeeze out the seeds after the chillies soften.
  3. To bruise the lemongrass (for aromatics), just place it on the kitchen countertop and give it a whack with a chopping board.
  4. You can easily toast dessicated coconut by scattering a thin layer on a baking pan and baking it in a pre-heated oven at 100C for 4-5 mins. Be watchful as the coconut burns easily. Once golden brown, take it off the heat.
  5. Some great side dishes are Sayur Lodeh (a type of vegetable curry), Acar (spicy pickled vegetables – usually cucumber, carrots, pineapple, peanuts) and Serunding (spiced meat floss)


tbsp = tablespoon

tsp = teaspoon

pecah minyak (lit. break oil) = to fry a paste till all the oil absorbs and then ‘breaks out’ again. the oil tends to be red or orange (depends on how much chillies you use). This also indicates that the onions are fully cooked and most of the moisture are gone.

lemang = glutinous rice & coconut milk cooked in hollow bamboo lined with banana leaves over charcoal

ketupat = compressed rice wrapped in coconut leaves


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