Sunday, November 2, 2008

Beef Rendang (Spicy Coconut Beef Stew)

I've been eyeing this particular beef rendang recipe from Rasa Malaysia simply because I love rendang and trying to cook it from scratch has always been somewhat daunting to me. Some of the recipes which I've come across called for a thousand and one ingredients, also not forgetting the long cooking process! Maybe it's about time to give this a try!

Back home in Malaysia, beef rendang is closely associated with Hari Raya which is the Muslim new year or Malay wedding ceremonies, called kenduri. When I was young, I would follow my parents during Hari Raya to visit their Muslim friends "open house". Open house is pretty much a tradition for all Malaysians (irrespective of race or religion) during each of own new year festivals, and there are so many ..... Chinese New Year, Hari Raya, Deepavali (the Indian new year) and Christmas. "Open house" literally means opening your doors to all friends who will drop by and say hello, also not forgetting having a bite or two in-between visitations.

Rendang is a dish which originated from the Minangkabau people of Indonesia. It is one of the characteristic foods of the Minangkabau culture, and it is served at ceremonial occasions and to honor guests. Being also popular in Malaysia and Singapore, rendang is traditionally prepared by the Malay community during festive occasions. Though rendang is sometimes described as being like a curry, and the name is sometimes applied to curried meat dishes in Malaysia, authentic rendang is nothing like a curry and doesn't contain curry powder.

Rendang is made from beef (or occasionally chicken, mutton, water buffalo meat or vegetables like jackfruit or cassava) slowly cooked in coconut milk and spices for several hours until almost all the liquid is gone, leaving the meat coated in the spicy condiments. The cooking process transitions from boiling to frying as the liquid is evaporated. The spices may include ginger, galangal, turmeric leaf, lemon grass and chillies. The slow cooking process allows the meat to absorb all the spices and to become tender.

There are two kinds of rendang: dried and wet. Dried rendang can be kept for 3–4 months, and it is for ceremonial occasions or to honor guests. Wet rendang, also known as kalio, can be found in Minangkabau restaurants and without refrigeration it should be consumed within a month. Rendang is often served with rice in Indonesia but in Malaysia it is served with ketupat (a compressed rice cake) and lemang (glutinous rice barbecued in bamboo tubes).

If you've never had rendang before and love spicy food, I truly recommend that you try this recipe. And don't be put off by the long simmering. After trying it out, I find that it's really not that difficult and is in fact easier than some recipes I've come across.

Beef Rendang (Spicy Coconut Beef Stew)
(Recipe courtesy from


600g beef chunk or boneless short-rib beef (cut into 1 1/2" cubes)
5 Tbsp cooking oil
1 cinnamon stick (about 2" long)
3 cloves
3 star anise
3 cardamom pods
1 lemongrass (cut into 4-inch length and pounded)
1 cup thick coconut milk
1 cup water
2 tsp tamarind pulp (soaked in some warm water for the juice and discard the seeds )
6 kaffir lime leaves (very finely sliced)
6 Tbsp kerisik (toasted coconut)
1 Tbsp sugar/palm sugar or to taste
Salt to taste

Spice Paste to Grind:

5 shallots
1" galangal
3 lemongrass (white part only)
5 cloves garlic
1" ginger
10-12 dried chilies (soaked in warm water and de-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.

3) Add the beef and the pounded lemongrass and stir for 1 minute.

4) Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice and simmer on medium heat, stirring frequently until the meat is almost cooked.

5) Add the kaffir lime leaves, kerisik (toasted coconut), sugar/palm sugar, stirring to blend well with the meat.

6) Lower the heat to low, cover the lid, and simmer for 1 - 1 1/2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up (I personally prefer to have some gravy left so that it'll go well with rice). Stir every so often to ensure that the gravy is not burnt.

7) Add salt to taste. If not sweet enough, add more sugar to taste.

8) Serve immediately with steamed rice and save some for overnight.


To prepare the kerisik or toasted coconut, just add the grated coconut to a dry wok and stir continuosly until they turn golden brown. After that using a mortar and pestel, pound the toasted coconut until oil develops.

Beef Rendang served with briyani rice and acar (pickled spicy vegetable)


Pearlsofeast said...

I am salivating scrolling down the ingredient list Jo, it is simply awesome, I can imagine the taste and would love to cook it with Chicken. Beautiful.
Thanks for nice comments.

Pam said...

This recipe is calling my name. It sounds so tasty and full of amazing flavors.

Ramya Vijaykumar said...

Definitely looks a long way in cooking but the final output is something awesome for which one can spend all the time cooking and waiting in the kitchen. It deserves all the wait...

Maya said...

I have been feasting on chicken rendang since I have been home.

Jo said...

hi pearlsofeast, you can substitue chicken with this recipe and it'll be just as tasty.

hi pam & ramya, you should try this if you are able to get the ingredients. Definitely no regrets!

hi maya, good for you. hope you had lemang or palas with it.

Jude said...

Love this stew.. Such a nice balance between all of the ingredients.

Rasa Malaysia said...

Hi there, just found your site and saw that you tried my rendang recipe. Yours look so good and moist. Good job and I am glad you loved the recipe. :)

Blogger said...

3 Studies SHOW Why Coconut Oil Kills Waist Fat.

The meaning of this is that you literally get rid of fat by consuming coconut fat (including coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

These 3 researches from big medicinal journals are sure to turn the conventional nutrition world around!

Related Posts with Thumbnails