Beef rendang

By Nikki & Jordan Shearer

Featured in Capital #52
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It’s officially autumn, which means we may have to soon bid adieu to summer salads and al fresco lunches.

This dish captures a sun-drenched flavour profile, with just enough heat to warm up those cooler evenings.

Beef Rendang is an Indonesian dish traditionally served at special occasions to honour guests. It is well worth the effort to make your own spice paste and even though some of the ingredients may sound weird, they are readily available at your local Asian supermarket.

The choice of chilli is very important as this will determine the heat. Avoid the bird’s-eye chilli and look for the Serrano, which are not as fiery hot but will still give a nice amount of heat. Your chilli tolerance will ultimately determine how many chillis you use. The galangal needs to be finely chopped as it will not break down even with the long cooking time. During the cold winter months this is the perfect comfort dish to serve the family and warm the soul.

Serves 6–8


2 cups thread coconut, lightly toasted

1.5kg topside steak, cut into 3–4 cm pieces.

Spice Paste

10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
10 red chillies (approx 100−150g), deseeded and roughly chopped
4 medium shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large knob fresh ginger, (approx 50g) peeled and roughly chopped
50g galangal, (approx 1 knob), peeled and finely chopped
50g fresh turmeric, peeled and roughly chopped
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp white sugar
2 tsp salt
4 green cardamom pods
2 tsp ground cumin
10 cloves
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp tamarind paste
4 kaffir lime leaves
800ml coconut cream
2 stalks lemongrass, bashed


  1. In a dry wok toast the coconut until lightly browned. Set aside.
  2. Place the 12 spice ingredients in a food processor and blitz to a paste.
  3. Heat the wok and add the oil and spice paste. Cook over medium heat until fragrant, approximately 5 minutes. Add the tamarind paste, kaffir leaves, and coconut cream. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the lemongrass, 1 cup of the toasted coconut and diced beef.
  5. Stir and simmer over medium heat for 2 ½ to 3 hours, stirring often to ensure that the beef does not stick to the pan. (Remember that the liquid will all be absorbed by the end of the cook time. If it starts to dry out too much before the meat is tender then add more coconut cream or water. Garnish with the remaining coconut before serving.)
  6. Serve with turmeric rice, coriander, lime cheeks, and your choice of sambals.


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