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Beef Rendang

Scott Phillips

Servings: 6 to 8

Serve this aromatic Malaysian specialty with jasmine or basmati rice. You can also enjoy it with bread, using it as a filling for pita, naan, tortillas, or any other flatbread. Rendang is typically very thick, but if you prefer a saucier dish, you can add a little water after adding the toasted coconut at the end.

View a slideshow to learn more about the ingredients that make this rendang incredibly aromatic.


For the flavor base:

  • 15 dried japones chiles or 10 dried chiles de árbol or 3 Tbs. sambal oelek
  • 1-1/2 cups sliced shallots (from 4 large shallots)
  • 2 Tbs. sliced garlic
  • 1 Tbs. sliced peeled fresh ginger
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh or frozen and thawed galangal (optional)

For the whole spice blend:

  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 whole green cardamom pods
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 1 3-inch-long cinnamon stick, snapped in half

For the ground spice blend:

  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For the rendang:

  • 3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil; more as needed
  • 2 lb. boneless top blade beef chuck (or bottom or top round, flank, or sirloin steak), cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, then cut into 1-1/2- to 2-inch pieces
  • 1 13.5-oz. can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 3 wild lime leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium lemongrass stalks, bruised with back of knife and tied in a knot
  • 4 tsp. palm sugar or dark brown sugar
  • 2-1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 cup tightly packed grated fresh coconut or unsweetened frozen coconut, thawed
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish (optional)
  • Lime wedges, for garnish (optional)

Nutritional Information

  • Calories (kcal) : 640
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 410
  • Fat (g): 46
  • Saturated Fat (g): 17
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 7
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 19
  • Cholesterol (mg): 50
  • Sodium (mg): 840
  • Carbohydrates (g): 28
  • Fiber (g): 7
  • Protein (g): 28


Make the flavor base:

  • If using dried chiles, steep them in hot water until pliable, 5 to 8 minutes; then slit and seed them (use gloves). Put the chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal (if using), and 1/4 cup water in a food processor and process to a coarse purée, about 3 minutes (if using whole dried chiles, you’ll still see little pieces of the skins).

Make the spice blends:

  • In a small bowl, combine the cloves, cardamom pods, star anise, and cinnamon pieces. In a second small bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, fennel, turmeric, and pepper.

Make the rendang:

  • Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch skillet or wok over medium-low heat until shimmering hot. Add the whole spice blend and cook, stirring constantly, until the cinnamon sticks unfold (the cardamom may also crack open), 1 to 2 minutes; don’t let the spices burn. Add another 2 Tbs. of the oil and the ground spice blend and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture sizzles and becomes fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds more (if the spices stick to the pan, add a little more oil to prevent burning).
  • Add the remaining 1/2 cup oil and the flavor base and cook, stirring, until the purée is an intense reddish-brown, about 10 minutes. Raise the heat to medium, add the beef and cook, stirring, to coat it with the spices, about 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk, tamarind concentrate, lime leaves, and lemongrass and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a boil, about 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low, add the sugar and salt, and simmer, stirring occasionally for the first hour and then more frequently as the stew thickens, until the liquid is very thick and oil appears on its surface, about 1-3/4 hours. The meat will not be fork-tender at this point.
  • Meanwhile, squeeze any excess liquid from the coconut with your hands. In a 10-inch skillet, toast the coconut over low heat, stirring constantly, until golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.
  • Stir the toasted coconut into the stew and then continue stirring until it’s incorporated and much of the liquid is gone, about 15 minutes. Add 1 cup water if you prefer a saucy consistency. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the meat is fork-tender, 20 to 30 minutes more (the oil will start frothing after 15 to 20 minutes).
  • Remove the lemongrass, cinnamon pieces, star anise, and as many cardamom pods and cloves as you can find. Transfer the meat to a serving platter and garnish with the cilantro and lime wedges (if using).

Make Ahead Tips

Beef rendang will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, but expect it to become drier and more intense as it sits.


Rate or Review


  • FrequentCook | 07/03/2017

    Absolutely delicious. Restaurant quality. I'm sorry I halved the recipe. Next time I will make the whole amount and freeze the extra. The most time consuming part is preparing the spice mixtures and paste so might as well do it only once. Do give this a try.

  • ocon | 06/05/2016

    rendang is the food very appetizing . Indonesian native food , I really like this food

  • ocon | 06/05/2016

    rendang is the food very appetizing . Indonesian native food , I really like this food

  • HarbourDog | 08/09/2015

    3/4 of a cup of canola oil???? Are you kidding? I don't think so. In fact, I know so. I learned to make rendang in 1979 when I was living in a village in West Sumatra (where it originates from, not Malaysia, btw) from the mother of the family. First of all, the oil used to fry the spice paste should be coconut oil, nothing else. That's what they use and it is very healthy for you, despite the propaganda from the canola and vegetable oil lobbies to the contrary. The meat should be allowed to boil on a high simmer until the oil comes out of the coconut milk, at which time the stove should be turned to as low a flame as possible, allowing the meat to fry in the oil until somewhat drythere should be no 'sauce' in real rendang, it should have reduced to the point that it can be put on a fork and not drip through. If its sauce, then you've made kalio sapi, not rendang. Pity we can't upload any photos here, I'd show you some of the most authentic rendang ever!

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