Recipes > Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang


Slow-cooked in aromatic spices and toasted coconut, this Indonesian beef curry is fantastic.
  • Serves: 4 to 6
  • Active Time: 40 mins
  • Total Time: 2 hrs 30 mins
  • Views: 52,883
  • Success Rating: 98% (?)
    0% - I fed it to the dog


Step 1: Preparing the Paste

Preparing the Paste
  • 9 long, dried red chilies
  • 1/2 lb shallots
  • 8 cloves garlic
  • 2 inches galangal
  • 2 inches young ginger
  • 1 stalk lemongrass


To make the rendang, remove the stems and seeds from the chilies and soak them in a pot of hot water for about 15 minutes. You can keep the pot over a low flame on the stove to keep the water nice and hot.

Once the chilies have softened, drain them and reserve some of the soaking liquid. Squeeze out the excess water from the chilies and give them a rough chop. Set aside.

Roughly chop the shallots and garlic. Peel and roughly chop the galangal and young ginger. Finely mince the lemongrass.

Place everything into a food processor, along with the chilies. Add a few tablespoons of the soaking liquid and puree. You’ll need to scrape down the sides of the food processor from time to time. You may also have to add another spoonful or so of soaking liquid for easy blending. Continue to pulse until you get a paste-like consistency. Set this aside while you prepare the rest of your ingredients.

Step 2: Preparing Your Mise en Place

Preparing Your Mise en Place
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 3/4 tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups desiccated coconut
  • 2 lb stewing beef
  • 1 tbsp palm sugar
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • 2 tbsp kecap manis


Using a mortar and pestle, grind the clove, cumin, coriander and fennel until you reach a fine powder. Set this aside and measure out the turmeric and salt.

Next, toast the coconut over medium-low heat. Keep an eye on it and stir often so it browns evenly, about 5 minutes or so. Once done, remove from the pan and set aside to cool slightly.

Dice the beef into about 1" -inch cubes and set aside.

Once the coconut is cool, grind it using a food processor or a mortar and pestle. Chop the palm sugar and measure out the tamarind pulp and kecap manis.

Step 3: Cooking and Serving the Rendang

Cooking and Serving the Rendang
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 400 ml coconut milk
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 makrut lime leaves
  • 1 makrut lime (zest of)
  • 1/2 fresh lime (juice of)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • cilantro (for garnish)


To cook the rendang, heat a heavy-bottomed pot, over medium heat and then add the oil. Add the ground spices and fry just until you can start to smell the aroma. Add the paste and stir together. Add the turmeric and continue to fry for about 5 minutes or until the liquid has been cooked out.

Next, add the beef and salt and stir to coat with the paste. Add the coconut milk, toasted coconut, water, tamarind, kecap manis, and palm sugar, and stir everything together. Tear the makrut lime leaves and zest the makrut lime. Give it a good stir and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer gently, uncovered for about 1-1.5 hours. Stir occasionally to make sure the heat is not too hot and that the mixture isn’t sticking on the bottom of the pot.

The meat is done when it is fork tender and falls apart easily. The sauce will thicken considerably and the oil will start to separate, which is what you are looking for.

To finish, check the seasoning and add a squeeze of fresh lime juice, if you like. Serve over coconut-infused rice and top with fresh cilantro.

Chef's Notes

This curry, because it cooks down and reduces so much, is considered a dry curry.

Allowing the coconut to cool will make it easier to finely grind.

Leftovers are very tasty when reheated the next day. They even freeze well.


  • Jason G
    Jason G
    I can't find long dried Thai chillies. I know the small ones are hotter, but can I substitute 9 long dried chillies with a few small fresh ones? Also, will the paste keep if I make it a day ahead of the rest? Thanks!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Yes you can substitute with fresh chilies, or the small dried chilies. You will just have to use less as they will be quite a bit hotter. Try using just a few at first to see how hot it is. This may alter the color somewhat but in the end it dish will still be delicious.
  • Faye L
    Faye L
    Hello, After I have mixed all the ingredients together, I finished this in a claypot in the oven, free up some time to do some other things. I omitted the tamarind and ketchup manis, and added 2 stalks of lemon grass. Certainly taste better the next day. Faye
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    Made this dish for friends on New Years, but rather than cook it on the stove top I used the oven. I cooked it at 200°F/95°C for about 6 hours...really nice and tender. I bought a 3 lb beef shoulder and cut it up myself. There was plenty for everyone (6 of us) with leftovers...Yum!
  • Mike M
    Mike M
    This year, instead of a traditional turkey, I decided to make a rijstaffel for my Dutch/Indonesian in-laws, and the feature dish was your beef rendang. It was an 8-course menu, and the beef rendang was the clear hit of the dinner. I'll make it again for sure, maybe with fewer courses to go with it (whew!). Thanks for the great recipe.
  • Tum P
    Tum P
    What is kecap manis??? Thks
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    It is an Indonesian soy sauce that is thick and sweet (from palm sugar). It is really yummy!
  • Ferida O
    Ferida O
    Hi, I'm from Indonesia and often cook rendang but without kecap manis. Since the origin of rendang come from Padang, Sumatra, they never sweetened the cook that have chilies as one of the ingredients. Later on, the Padang restaurant become popular around all Indonesia, the Javanese who prefer the sweet taste add kecap manis to balance the hot of the chili. If you can buy a fresh coconut, here we prepare the coconut milk in two type of thickness: 1. The thick milk (by adding just a few water to the shredded coconut and squeeze them once) 2. The light milk (by adding enough water to cover the beef to the same shredded coconut and squeeze them several times) The light milk use to broth the beef till tender and we add the thick milk after it. This technique to prevent the sauce to split and give a natural sweet and rich flavor to the rendang. As you say this is a matter of what taste we prefer, just to share my experience of cooking rendang. Sorry for my poor English.
  • Jacqueline B
    Jacqueline B
    Hi There: I have Kaffir lime leaves (not fresh) but I can't seem to find fresh Kaffir Limes anywhere. Is there something I can use as a substitute? Will regular lime zest give me a similar result and are my dried leaves going to be okay? Thanks
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    If you type in "kaffir" in the search bar (top right of each page) you will find a few threads on this. Here is one in particular that you might find helpful. Cheers! If you cannot find fresh kaffir lime leaves then dried is still a fairly good option (if they are not too old and dried out). Cheers!
  • Dudi B
    Dudi B
    going over the stewing technique i am just curious how this recipe fits in since the the dry spices and paste are fried before adding the meat. That seems to be contra the explanation of first searing the meat with spices, adding your flavor layers before deglasing and adding the cooking liquid. Why not follow the same order for this recipe. Really curious to understand the logic behind it better. thx!
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    The thing with cooking is that every culture has their own way of doing things. This is simply just another method of stewing. You could follow the way taught in the lesson and achieve similar results. One of the greatest things about cooking is that there is rarely only one way to do something. Cheers!
  • Gretchen P
    Gretchen P
    This is absolutely one of the most delicious dishes I have ever made. My guests were ecstatic!!! I left out the kecap manis because it was not gluten free and one of my guests has a problem. I added it back in to the leftovers the next day. Either way it was fantastic.
  • Gail S
    Gail S
    Hi Dawn, I just have a question about times. I made this today (well a VERY close variation but still 2lbs of beef) and it turned out great BUT it took almost 3 hours to get fork tender and probably still could have been cooked longer. Flavor-wise fantastic, timing...much longer. I had the same issue yesterday with French onion soup- it took 1.5 hours to caramelize the six onions versus the 45 min listed. I know times vary but both of these were almost double. I am on an electric stove...the onions were cooked as listed medium low (I used 3-4 on dial) and similar today. I know times vary but these seemed so drastic. And today I was definitely simmering!! Any ideas? (My visiting brother (also from Vancouver incidentally!) said that he's never heard of it taking less than two hours...but he did love the flavor.) I love Rouxbe and don't want to be stressed that either I am doing something wrong, super-slowly, or that I need an industrial stove top!!
  • Gail S
    Gail S
    NB: Actually, I don't want to be too specific with the dial numbers, I just wanted to indicate that I was monitoring the simmering throughout.
  • Dawn T
    Dawn T
    The amount of time for any stew or braised dish is hard to say exactly. The size of the meat, the cut of the meat, the type of meat and the heat the dish is cooked at will all impact cooking times. This is one of the many reasons why we cook our braises and stews the day before. This allows the meat the time it needs to cook without having to panic that dinner is supposed to be on the table at a certain time. For more information, I encourage you to review the lessons in the Moist-Heat Cooking Section of the Cooking School. In particular, the lessons on "Combination Cooking Fundamentals", "Stewing" and even "Braising". For the caramelized onions you may have just needed to turn the heat up a bit. Also the amount you had in the pan, the pan itself and you heat source would all play a role in the cooking time. If you have an electric stove this will also come into play with timing. It is also important to keep in mind that cooking times are always just estimates. We do try to be real with our times but so many things factor into cooking times that it's hard and/or impossible to give exact cooking times. The speed one chops at, the heat they use, the pan they use etc. will all play a part in how long a dish takes to prepare and cook. Hope that helps Gail. Cheers!
  • Gail S
    Gail S
    Thanks Dawn, that is my main problem ...the dinner time panic!! Thanks for your comprehensive answer and I am going to go back and review everything. Of course right now I am trying to make a lemon meringue pie that is again NOT going to be ready in time for dinner! I never learn!'s a slow process!:) Thank you again, I just wanted to ask because I know you always answer thoroughly and helpfully and I want to take advantage of that! Thanks again!! So really...the answer I need to take home is "START EARLIER!!!".:) PS I love the idea of Beef Rendang New Years. Yum.
  • Sue T
    Sue T
    I have lived in the East for many years. It is hard to beat a good beef Rendang and this is the best I have had. Time consuming but worth all the effort.
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Sue- Well congratulations...we're so happy that your meal was worth the effort. That is what cooking is all about and we're delighted that you enjoyed the process and the final dish! Enjoy.
  • Shekhar M
    Shekhar M
    My Mother's side is from Malaysia, so have had beef rendang before many times. Love it. Long story short, my version last night turned out pretty bad. Wondering a couple things: 1) used dried thai chilles - how important are the dried long chillies? 2) Are all types of dried coconut created equally? Used a shredded coconut that was still pretty moist even after toasting. 3) Used grassfed beef (was on sale) - it usually has a lower fat content. Does that take longer to cook bc 2 hours of simmering definitely did not make it fork tender 4) Is this something that I can use slow cooker for? If so, how? Thanks guys. Would love to try this again
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Shekhar- OK, I'm sorry that the dish did not turn out as you would have hoped. There are a many types of thai chilies and the long chilies are not as piquant as the short dried chilies. They also have more flesh and substance which adds to the texture and consistency of the sauce in the dish. As for coconut, there are many types. I find it useful to let the coconut really dry out in a warm (not hot) oven after toasting. Some products have sugar added, which causes premature coloration. Try to achieve both a golden color and a crispy texture. There are no rules re: grass fed vs grain fed beef in terms of cooking times. If the dish is not cooked through, let it go a while longer. The type of cut, specific temperature, pH of the liquid, and other factors influence cooking times. Finally, yes, you can use a slow cooker, but I'd only use it to simmer - the initial frying stage should be executed in a heavy pot and then the ingredients should be transferred to the slow-cooker. I hope this helps~ Cheers!
  • Rosie G
    Rosie G
    I couldn't find galangal at my local Asian grocery store. What's a good substitute? Extra ginger? Thanks!
  • Ken R Rouxbe Staff
    Ken R
    Hi Rosie - Ginger makes an OK substitute, but the flavor of galagal is so unique and fragrant that it's hard to really replicate. I'd add more ginger though, not a bad idea. ~Ken
  • Holly D
    Holly D
    I do love a rendang. Any thoughts on what to use for a meat substitute to make this plant based? I figure it takes a while to cook out so tofu/tempeh make disintegrate if cooked for a long time. Or cook the sauce first and then add something. Look forward to your thoughts. Thanks!
  • Kirk B
    Kirk B
    Hi Holly and thanks for your question! So I've made this very recipe with crimini mushrooms and green lentils and it was delicious! The mushrooms held together nicely and the flavors were superb! I hope this helps and thanks for cooking with Rouxbe Holly! All the best, Chef Kirk
  • Holly D
    Holly D
    Kirk, thanks! Sounds a great idea. I'll give it a go for sure. Thanks again, Holly.

Leave A Comment

Please login or join the Rouxbe community to leave a comment.