The whole object of travel is not to set foot on foreign land; it is at last to set foot on one’s own country as a foreign land.” – G.K. Chesterton

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

Jean's version of Beef Rendang

Rendang is a Malay-style dry curry usually made with beef, although it will work very well with lamb as well. I know I've said that I don't like red meat much, but rendang (like many other Malaysian dishes) has a somewhat nostalgic value for me and I wanted to try it again. Besides, I am trying to incorporate more red meat in our diet.

My mum has never cooked rendang before so I had to search online for recipes. I didn't have the luxury of having many of the ingredients available to me (eg fresh galangal) so I resorted to using the ground version and hoped that it would turn out well anyway. Traditionally, I'm supposed to roast fresh coconut then pound it with all the (fresh, not ground) spices to a paste with a pestle and mortar, but alas, where was I to get the coconut, or even the pestle and mortar? Admittedly, I could have used a blender, but it was near my bedtime and I figured that since 1) I'm using ground spices and 2) having to stew the curry for more than one hour, the ingredients would eventually meld together to a similar consistency (I actually forgot I had it on the stove, until I walked into the kitchen just before bedtime and wondered what the bubbling sound was :P).

So basically, I used what I had with the method I thought would work and hence my reluctance to give this recipe a straight "Beef Rendang" title. It is really my version of rendang because it deviates quite a bit from the traditional recipe you can find online. Naturally, I was quite concerned that it would taste nothing like rendang, but it actually turned out not too far from what I wanted. I packed some for lunch at work, and my friend had a taste and said it was really good and tasted like rendang. Yay! :)

Like all curries, it is better to cook rendang the night before to allow the flavours to deepen and develop. In fact, I think this was better two days after it was cooked. Next time, I'll be a bit more prepared and buy lemongrass stalk and steal some kaffir lime leaves from my mum's garden to improve this recipe.


1kg beef, cut into large-ish cubes (maybe 2cm?)
2 tabs curry powder for meat
2 tabs soy sauce

2 tsp ground galangal
2 tsp chilli flakes
1 tsp ground paprika
1.5tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tsp ground ginger

1-2 tabs oil
1 large or 2 med onions, chopped
2 tsp ginger, chopped or grated
4 cloves of garlic, minced/chopped/crushed
1tsp sugar
1/2 cup coconut milk
enough water
1 cinammon stick


1) Marinade the beef with the curry powder, soy sauce and pepper for 30minutes (long marination time is not essential in my opinion because this is pretty much like a stew and all the flavours are cooked into the meat during the long cooking process - I did it out of habit really).
2) Pre-mix the chilli flakes and ground spices together (helps to avoid burnt spices).
3) Heat the oil in a saucepan until hot, then cook the onions until almost brown.
4) Add the chopped ginger and garlic and stirfry for a minute before adding the chilli and ground spices. Stirfry for a minute until spices are roasted and fragrant, then add the meat and mix well, scraping the bottom of the pan which may have spices stuck to it.
5) Add the coconut milk, water, sugar and cinammon stick, stir well and bring to a simmer.
6) Let it cook for at least one hour, stirring occasionally to ensure nothing sticks on the bottom of the pan.
7) Cook until the beef is tender and the rendang is almost dry (to your liking). Season to taste if necessary.

This is yummy with bread or rice. Here I served it with basmati rice and some stir-fried veges.

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