Authentic beef rendang recipe and the best that you'll ever taste. Rich Asian-style beef stew with depths of flavors of spices, herbs, and coconut milk. It's delicious and easier to make than you think.
What Is Beef Rendang
Beef rendang's origin is Indonesia and is also very famous in Malaysia. It's a type of dry curry that is actually a variety! It can be chicken rendang, shrimp rendang, clams rendang, and even fish rendang. Yes! I've eaten them all and they're amazing!
Beef rendang is slow-cooked on the stove in an aromatic paste that includes lemongrass, galangal, other herbs and spices, and coconut milk. The flavorful sauce reduces into a darker color and coats the super-tender meat. The meat is caramelized in an incredible way.
Why This Recipe Works
Being a Malay and Malaysian, I've eaten this rendang daging (beef) my whole life and its delicious layers of flavors are so integrated into me. It's a must-have during Eid al-Fitr (Aidilfitri) in our family but we make it throughout the year.
This is more towards Malay beef rendang. It's our family recipe with minor adjustments so that it's easier to make and not super spicy for you. We love spicy in our family!
Follow my tips and instructions and you'll have an authentic Malaysian beef rendang to impress your guests. I'll show you the easiest way to prepare this amazing rendang curry.
Ingredients For This Recipe
Beef - Use beef for stew or slow cooking. Chuck is the best. I've made this using beef cheeks also, and they were great. Don't use lean beef cuts. Find the cuts with some fats marbled in the meat.
Dried chilies - They're for the heat. Use long red chilies, Thai chilies, or birds-eye chilies, and adjust the amount to your level of spiciness (or omit it). My mother loved to use lots of Thai chilies!
Lemongrass - Peel the woody outer layer and use only the white part, discard the green part.
Tamarind - I use concentrated cooking tamarind, it's easier. You can add a squeeze of lime or lemon at the end if you can't find it.
Kaffir lime leaves - Adds a touch of citrus. Fresh or frozen ones work great. My mother used 3-4 turmeric leaves also. Although it won't taste the same, you could add the zest of 2-3 limes.
*See recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
1. Prepare the chilies. Cut the dried chilies into small pieces using scissors to remove the seeds. Place in a bowl and cover with hot water. Soak for 30 minutes until they're softened.
2. Make beef rendang paste. Add drained soaked chilies, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, onion, and a splash of water into a food processor bowl and blend into a fine paste.
3. Cook the paste. Heat some oil in a pot on medium heat and cook the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, star anise, bruised lemongrass, and rendang paste for 10-15 minutes until it thickens or the wetness has significantly reduced.
4. Add in beef. Stir in the beef chunks and coat every piece with the aromatic paste.
5. Add in the rest. Pour in the coconut milk together with kaffir lime leaves, coconut sugar, tamarind, and salt, and mix well.
6. Slow cook. Bring to a simmer and cook with the lid on for 1 hour, or until the meat is soft to the touch. Remove the lid and continue cooking until the sauce dries up and the meat is super tender. Enjoy!
Recipe Expert Tips
- Use the right beef cut. Don't use lean meat. Use meat for stew or slow cooking with some fats marbled in it, like chucks of beef cheeks. They make super tender rendang. Yum!
- Don't cut the beef too small. We don't want the meat to disintegrate and disappear into the sauce, during the slow cooking. 2-inch cubes are perfect. Buy a huge piece of meat and cut it yourself.
- Use a small food processor. Smaller bowl of a food processor blends the sturdier ingredients like lemongrass and galangal better. You'll get a fine paste faster and easier.
- Stir now and then. This is a dry curry. Stir now and then to prevent the sauce from getting stuck at the bottom of the pot.
- Use a splatter guard. Trust me, it'll be less messy when you cook the paste and especially when reducing the sauce at the end.
- Avoid disintegrated beef. If the meat is already super tender and the sauce is still not dry, remove the meat onto a plate. Continue cooking until the sauce is significantly reduced. Then gently stir in back the meat.
- It tastes better the next day. Make this rendang one day ahead but don't let the sauce dry too much. On the day of, cook until the sauce is dry. This is to avoid the meat getting broken into smaller pieces during reheating and stirring.
What To Serve Rendang With
Uff, lots! During Eid al-Fitr, we always eat this rendang together with lemang. Lemang is glutinous rice cooked together with coconut milk, inside a bamboo trunk, on the grill.
Ever since living in Spain, I prepare my steamed turmeric glutinous rice instead since it's even easier. Believe it or not, it's also amazing with our parmesan Duchess potatoes. Don't knock it until you tried it!
How To Store
Fridge - In an air-tight container, in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezer - In an air-tight container, in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or using low heat on the stove (add a splash of water so the rendang doesn't get too dry).
I've used both beef chucks and beef cheeks, and they were amazing! Use stew or slow-cooking meat, where there's some fat marbled in them. That's going to guarantee super tender meat. Don't use lean meat.
Rendang is originally from Indonesia and is famous in neighboring countries, including Malaysia. I've adapted it to my Malaysian family's way of cooking.
Rendang is a dry curry where the sauce is reduced significantly. The sauce coats and flavor the super-tender meat so deliciously.
Related Curry Recipes
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Watch The Video
Beef Rendang Paste
- 25 dried chilies
- 6 lemongrass (white part only) , sliced
- 2 inch galangal , sliced
- 2 inch ginger , sliced
- 6 garlic cloves
- 1 onion , cubed
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 4 cardamom pods
- 1 lemongrass , bruised
- 2.2 lb beef chuck , cut into 2-inch cubes
- 10 kaffir lime leaves , thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoon coconut sugar
- 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon concentrated cooking tamarind
- 1 can coconut milk , of 14 oz
Prepare the chilies
- Cut the dried chilies into small pieces to remove the seeds. Soak in a bowl with some boiling water for 30 minutes until softened. Drain.
Beef Rendang Paste
- In a small processor, blend softened chilies, lemongrass, galangal, ginger, garlic, and onion into a fine paste. Add a splash of water to help the process.
- Heat some oil on medium heat and add in cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, cardamom pods, bruised lemongrass, and beef rendang paste.
- Cook for 10-15 minutes or until the paste thickened or the wetness has reduced significantly. Always remember to stir now and then when cooking so that nothing sticks at the bottom.
- Add in the beef pieces and coat them evenly with the paste. Stir in kaffir lime leaves, coconut sugar, salt, tamarind, and coconut milk. Simmer with the lid on for 1 hour or until the meat is soft to the touch, but not yet falling apart.
- Remove the lid and continue cooking for 30-40 minutes until the sauce reduces (or when the oil separates) and the meat is super tender. At this stage, stir frequently but gently.
- If the meat is already super tender but there's still lots of sauce, remove the meat onto a plate. Continue cooking until the sauce is reduced and then gently stir in the meat. Enjoy!
- To avoid anything sticking to the bottom of the pan, stir now and then at the beginning. And more frequently but gently as the sauce reduces. This is to avoid the meat getting broken into lots of small pieces.
- Use a splatter guard when cooking the paste and reducing the sauce, since it will splatter a lot during these two times.
Originally published on Aug 16, 2017. Updated with improved text, recipe, and pictures on Apr 14, 2023.