Beef Rendang

IMG_3026 copyA few years ago, I was watching an elimination round on Masterchef.  The contestants were faced with some rather tough meat simmering in beef stock.  They had 45 minutes to finish the dish, which was to be Beef Rendang.  They were required to pick a limited number of ingredients (one at a time) and add them to the pot.  The contestants were later told that there are two ingredients that their dish must have in order to qualify as Beef Rendang.

As the contestants were choosing their ingredients, I said to Maus,  “You know, I have had Beef Rendang in restaurants but I don’t know how to make it.  I would be out of the competition.”   After the show, I did look up those two critical ingredients.  They are coconut milk and potatoes.

This dish needs to simmer away for quite a long time so don’t buy an expensive cut of meat. I used blade but chuck, topside or a similar cut would do.  I can vouch that the quantities here will serve 6 –  Maus and I have had it for dinner three nights in a row.   And it tasted better, much better, each night.  If you are having guests, I highly recommend you make it the day before.  How easy will your dinner party be if the main dish is already made?

The recipe comes from Christine Manfield’s book, Spice, which I am glad I have because it is a gorgeous book.  I haven’t used it much as it is one of those books where you need to make her condiments and spice mixes to make most of the dishes.  I was glad to see that this recipe was not one of those dishes.

The number of ingredients may look overwhelming but they are all easily bought at an Asian vegetable and/or grocery store.   I bought my ingredients from Daily Supermarket in Mount Lawley.  If you are in Perth, I have a Kaffir lime tree and a curry tree in my garden.  You are more than welcome to a few leaves.

This dish is easy to make if you have a food processor, especially one with a small bowl.  I whizzed all the aromatics in my Oskar and the onion in my standard-sized food processor.


  • 6 large dried chillies
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs* coriander seeds
  • 1 litre coconut milk
  • 2 brown onions, minced
  • 1 tbs* fresh ginger, minced
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 coriander roots, minced
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp fresh turmeric, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh galangal, minced
  • 8 red bird’s-eye chillies, finely sliced ( If you use 8 bird’s eyes, you are a braver person than me.  I used 3 reasonably mild chillies and, with the 6 dried chillies, there was more than enough heat for us.)
  • 12 curry leaves
  • 1 tbs* ground turmeric
  • 1 litre beef stock
  • 1 kg beef, cubed
  • 6 large potatoes
  • 50 mls fish sauce
  • 1 cup coriander leaves

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  1. Dry-roast dried chillies, cumin seeds and coriander seeds separately over gentle heat until fragrant.  Cool then grind to a fine powder.  (I did this in my coffee grinder but a mortar and pestle and some elbow grease would work just as well.)
  2. Bring the coconut milk to a simmer in a wide, heavy-based pan, then add the aromatics (onions, ginger, garlic, coriander roots, lemongrass, lime leaves, fresh turmeric, galangal, chillies and curry leaves) and spices (the dried chilli, coriander, cumin and ground turmeric) and simmer gently, uncovered, for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and stir in the beef.  Simmer gently for 45 minutes.
  4. Peel and quarter the potatoes, then add to the beef and simmer for an additional 45 minutes or until the meat is tender and the potatoes are cooked through.  The recipe advises that if your pot becomes too dry, add a little water to keep meat and potatoes moist.  I didn’t have this problem.  To the contrary, my dish was a little too moist.  By the end of cooking, all liquid should have been absorbed – mine wasn’t.
  5. Season with fish sauce.  (Fish sauce is used here in place of salt so don’t be tempted to add salt.)
  6. Stir the coriander leaves through the curry.  (Don’t forget them, like I did the first night!)
  7. Serve with jasmine rice.

8 thoughts on “Beef Rendang

  1. Beef rendang is such a great dish and yours, Glenda, sounds like the real deal. I’m slowly widening my cooking to include more Asian dishes but I fear this may be out of my reach yet. I have bookmarked it, though. WIth a bit more experience — and a good dose of courage — I’ll give it a try.

    • Hi Celia, different but similar … Christine always puts her own twist on things. I am interested that there are no potatoes, whenever I have had Beef Rendang in a restaurant it has included potatoes, interesting … My curry didn’t become dry, which I know it should have but I stopped cooking as the meat and potatoes were well and truly cooked (and I was hungry). I think I would reduce the beef stock next time. It tasted absolutely fabulous.

  2. Let’s trade something you’d like from the US – I’d love a few kaffir seeds from your tree. (is it illegal to send seeds from Australia to the US?). I can’t buy them here, because anyone who has a tree is propagating kaffir trees and selling them for $50 as yearlings! Did we already discuss this?

    Why are you showing cans of coconut cream when your recipe calls for coconut milk? Maybe that’s why your liquid didn’t cook out.

    • Hi Doc
      We did already discuss this. My tree has never fruited so I can’t give you any seeds, sorry!! I think Perth is too cold – it is a tropical plant. What difference would it make using coconut cream rather than milk? The only difference is how much water they add – more with milk less with cream.

      • Sorry! The old man syndrome, again. Re the milk/cream thing; check the ingredients on the cans – over here, coconut cream has added sugar as it’s major use is for desserts and drinks, whereas the milk has no added sugar.

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