Beef Rendang

Rendang is a rich slow cooked meat dish, usually beef, characteristic for its spice mixture and deep toasted coconut flavour. Originally Indonesian, it’s also popular in Malaysia and Singapore but in Australia the ingredients can be found in most large supermarkets or Asian grocers. Our recommended cut for this dish is beef shin shank for its silky soft and dense flavour as it breaks down while slow cooking, but most slow cooking cuts would be suitable like conical, beef chuck or short rib.


Prep time 20 minutes Cook 3 hours


  • 600g beef shin or conical, cut into 4cm cubes
  • 30g coarsely grated fresh coconut or shredded coconut
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • 6 Makrut lime leaves, plus extra leaves thinly sliced to serve 
  • 2 lemongrass stems, white part only, halved lengthways
  • 800ml coconut milk
  • 1½ tablespoons tamarind paste
  • 1½ tablespoons grated palm sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Rendang spice paste
  • 1 tablespoon each cumin seeds, fennel seeds and coriander seeds
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bruised, seeds reserved and pods discarded
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 4 whole star anise
  • 30g each fresh ginger, galangal and turmeric, coarsely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 4 red Asian shallots or 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  • 8–10 long red chillies, coarsely chopped
  • 2 lemongrass stems, white part only, coarsely chopped

Serving suggestion: steamed rice or coconut rice and steamed Asian greens with a squeeze of lime juice.

1. To make the rendang spice paste, dry-roast the dried spices in a small saucepan over medium–high heat for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until fragrant and toasted. Cool slightly and grind into a powder using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Transfer to a food processor with the remaining ingredients and process to a paste, adding a tablespoon or two of water, if necessary to help blend.

2. Dry-roast the coconut in a frying pan over medium heat, shaking the pan occasionally, for 5–6 minutes until golden and toasted. Transfer to a mortar and pestle, cool and crush lightly.

3. Heat the coconut oil in a large enamelled cast-iron casserole dish over medium heat, add the spice paste and fry, stirring frequently, for 12–15 minutes until browned and very fragrant. Season the beef, add it to the casserole dish with the lime leaves and lemongrass and stir to coat well in the paste.

4. Stir in the toasted coconut, coconut milk and 300ml of water to combine well, reduce the heat to very low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour. Add the tamarind paste, palm sugar and sea salt and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1–1½ hours until the beef is very tender and the sauce is thick and slightly oily. Check the seasoning and serve with the thinly sliced lime leaves.