Malaysian beef rendang

3 hours 15 minutes


  • 1kg beef shin, chuck or cheek, trimmed of all excess tough sinew and cut into 2.5cm cubes
  • 3 tbsp of vegetable oil
  • 400g of coconut milk
  • 60g of palm sugar, or dark brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp of tamarind paste
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cardamom pods, bashed to release the seeds
  • 5 cloves
  • 200g of coconut cream
  • 50g of desiccated coconut
  • 1 red chilli, sliced, to garnish
  • cucumber, chopped, to garnish

Rendang spice paste

  • 1 tbsp of salt
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 large white onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 knob of galangal, or ginger (thumb-sized), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, white bottom part only, roughly chopped
  • 20 dried chillies, soaked in hot water overnight
  • 10 kaffir lime leaves, destemmed


Soak the dried chillies for the rendang spice paste overnight before using. The next day, add the chillies to a blender with the rest of the spice paste ingredients and blend until smooth
Place a pan over a medium heat and, once hot, add the vegetable oil with the spice paste, cinnamon stick, star anise, cardamom pods and cloves. Fry for a few minutes until aromatic
Add the sugar, tamarind paste and coconut milk, stir to combine and heat through for a few minutes
Add the diced beef, stir to combine then reduce the heat to low. Cook with a lid on for 2 hours, stirring every few minutes to prevent sticking
Towards the end of those two hours, add the coconut cream to a bowl and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir, microwave for another minute, then stir again. Microwave for one more minute and stir well – the coconut cream should be a nice golden-brown colour
After the 2 hours of cooking, add the darkened coconut cream to the pan, then cook with a lid on for 30 minutes, stirring every few minutes
Remove the lid from the pan and cook for a final 30 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking
Meanwhile, toast the desiccated coconut in a hot, dry, non-stick frying pan until golden
Serve the rendang sprinkled with desiccated coconut and some sliced red chilli, chopped cucumber and rice