Beef Rendang – by special request

Posted: February 23, 2012 in Culture, Feel-Good, Food, Leisure
Tags: , , , , ,

Following my last post, The MasterChef in X, C and A… thanks girls 😀, I received some requests from readers to post the beef rendang recipe.

Mmmm….what timely moment, I thought. Actually I had wanted to write about this some months back, but due to my somewhat busy schedule the last 8 months, I had to shove a multitude of things aside. That does not mean that I’m less busy now, but I’m trying to clear as many of my backlogged stories and pictures as possible 😀

Slowly but surely, eh?

Gentle reminder

I was watching Rick Stein’s Far Eastern Odyssey on BBC Two one evening.  In one of the episodes in his ambitious journey to South East Asia, he concocted several visually stunning well known and less known recipes of the Far East.  During his visit to Malaysia, he asked the locals if they were to name a favourite dish, what it would be, the majority of them said, “Beef Rendang”. That was a gentle reminder for me to include this classic dish inspired by the most fragrant ingredients in one of our Sunday lunches.

Festive Dish

Rendang is a popular festive dish in most parts of South East Asia (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei and the southern parts of the Philippines and Thailand). It is originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia.

By the way, if you are planning a dinner for friends and are looking for a hassle-free but yet tasteful dish, beef rendang is the answer. Never cook your rendang on the day you are inviting guests to your house.  The rendang will taste much superior with the intense fragrant sipping through and coating the meat the day after. That’s why I mentioned “hassle-free” on the day of the planned dinner, so you can just about “goyang kaki” (literally meant “to be idle”) on D-day by just heating and platting up the rendang 😀

The Food of Malaysia

I will take you through the culinary journey of a good beef rendang recipe, which has been tried and tested.  No instant boemboes, just The Real McCoy, all fresh or at least, nearly fresh ingredients…

I got this recipe from Periplus World Cookbooks “The Food of Malaysia” Authentic Recipes from the Crossroads of Asia, with some changes and adaption here and there.


1 kg topside beef, cubed (I used the cubed carbonades for making Flemish beef stew)

6 cm cinnamon sticks

4 cloves

8 star anise

4 cardammom pods

500 ml coconut milk

2 tsp tamarind juice (please use concentrated tamarind juice)

Few kaffir lime leaves, very finely sliced

4 Tbsp kerisik (this is one of the secret elements to good tasting rendang)

2 turmeric leaves (daun kunyit), very finely sliced – another secret ingredient

1.5 tsp sugar (I used brown sugar)

Cooking oil

Salt to taste

Spice paste

4 shallots

4 cm galangal

4 cm fresh turmeric root

8 lemon grass (4 blended and 4 bruised/ crushed)

4 cloves garlic

4 cm ginger

20 dried chillies, soaked in hot water

The visual effects –

The ingredients you will need, kerisik, samples of  the turmeric leaves and the plant. The turmeric leaves are often not readily available in most Asian stores. This is one of the secret ingredients to an authentic beef rendang. If you can’t find these leaves, use plenty of kaffir lime leaves.

How to make the real kerisik: Dry roast 600 g grated fresh coconut in a pan, with no oil, stirring constantly until golden brown. Let the coconut cool, and then grind finely until the oil is released.

If you can’t get grated fresh coconut, like me, use desiccated coconut and process the same way as the grated fresh coconut.


Clean, peel and chop the spice paste ingredients, then puree in a blender until really fine.

Heat the oil; add the blended spice paste, cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise and cardommom pods. Sautee for a couple of minutes until fragrant. Add the beef, coconut milk and tamarind juice.  Simmer uncovered, stirring frequently, until the meat is almost cooked.

Add the finely sliced kaffir lime leaves, turmeric leaves, kerisik, brown sugar and salt. Lower the heat and simmer until the meat is really tender and the gravy has dried up. Do check the meat every now and then that it does not burn or stick to the bottom of the pan too much. For the amount of beef I was using, the cooking time was in the region of 3 hours, at the least.

Comfort Food

I like my rendang with steamed rice and some homemade acar, or something tangy, like chutney on the side, or simply, cut cucumbers.

This is what I called, Comfort Food on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Mmmmm….. YUMMY!

I hope you will try this out.

Enjoy the rest of the week.


  1. X says:

    Thanks for the post. Except for the tumeric leave, are the rest ingredient easy to find in the Asian store?

  2. Nasifriet says:

    Yes, you can get all these ingredients at the Asian store. Kaffir lime leaves are good substitute for the turmeric leaves, so you need to get these at the Thai store. You can find desiccated coconut at Delhaize or GB. No probs. I got my turmeric leaves from my Indonesian colleague, who got it from The Hague (NL). Brought a bunch back and I freezed it up.

  3. Chris says:


    I’ve borrowed that exact cookbook from the library many times. Have not made anything from it yet but love to look at all the yummy recipes and pics. BTW, rendang is hubby’s favorite food. I have a rendang recipe too – that I’ll make when I can find fresh chilis (which is not often). Will try your recipe one of these days if I can find some of the ingredients. 😀 I agree that rendang tastes much better after it sits for a day or two but we don’t have that kind of will-power in this household. LOL

  4. Nasifriet says:

    You know, Chris, rendang freezes well too. If I make a lot, I’d freeze a portion. If my palate is screaming for rendang some other day, I suggest steaming the stew, as putting it back in a pot and heating it over the stove, makes it saltier. At least for me. I think by steaming, the taste is pretty neutral, as if it’s just made 😀
    Rendang is also one of my hubby’s favourites and indeed a good dish when you’re inviting friends over 😛

  5. New blog or just new look? Good to see you blogging again 🙂

    I have not had rendang in ages. Can’t get that daun kunyit over here but I do have dried kaffir lime leaves. I should make it one of these days. Looking at your pictures make me want to have some soon. Enjoy your weekend!

  6. Nasifriet says:

    Neither, Biren. I’ve just not been blogging for the past so many months! Have been busy with our moving house as well as workfront 😦 I took the week off (coinciding with the school hols) and decided to write what I’ve put aside for so long 🙂

    Yep, it’s hard to get/find daun kunyit. Had to get these in the Netherlands (with the huge population of Indonesians there) in bulk and freeze them up. Thanks for passing by. LOVE your blog, Biren! Have a great week ahead..

  7. Sandy says:

    Oh, I love rendang, but the idea of making it is really something else. Just the lazy me 😦

  8. mNasifriet says:

    Thanks Sandy. I know it takes a LONG time preparing and WAITING for the final result, but it’s really worth the wait. What you can do is, cook alot and freeze these up in several portions once they cooled down on the day itself or the next morning. That way you don’t have to waste too much time in the kitchen 🙂 Have great week!

  9. Sam says:

    Nice blog. Love rendang. Must try with turmeric leavs next time.. thanks!

  10. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Sam. Yes, you must try making the rendang with the turmeric leaves next time. If you live in Asia, you should have no problem. It’s hard to find these leaves in Europe. Maybe I should think about planting this turmeric plant.. 😉

  11. Dada says:

    Kagum kmk ngan che. Che che can cook very well. Lau nua i see the rendang. ♡

  12. Nasifriet says:

    Thanks, Da. That’s the whole idea. Kamek di oversea tok, mun mengidam makanan tempatan, we’ve to “force” ourselves to cook up our childhood favourite dishes. The only way to be and feel sane 😀

  13. […]              Beef Rendang: by special request […]

  14. […] because she used only fresh chillies, while I used only dried chillies. My recipe is adapted from here to the TM way of […]

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