Beef Rendang: A traditional dish done the right way

Beef Rendang – tender, complex and absolutely delicious.

Growing up in Malaysia with mothers, aunts and grandmas that cook, most of us have heard the many lamentations about the significant effort required to prepare Beef Rendang.

And with a three- to four-hour cooking time typically required for this tender beef dish of complex and heady flavours, it’s no wonder why home-cooked Beef Rendang only makes its appearance during special occasions like weddings and Hari Raya open houses.

There is no doubt the “stigma” attached to preparing Beef Rendang has caused many to shy away from trying to prepare this dish at home, whether for a special occasion or not.

But preparing Beef Rendang is not as complex as you think. It does take a lot of patience and time, and, if you live in a non-Asian country, possibly a trip to a specialty store.

If you have these ready however, as well as a food processor, you’re all set.


• 1.23kg beef tenderloin

• 285g red onions, peeled

• 130g shallots, peeled

• 25g garlic, peeled

• 12g turmeric root

• 40g old ginger

• 33g galangal

• 5g kaffir lime leaves (about 3 leaves, roughly ripped)

• 20g lemongrass, roots only

• 115g coconut sugar (Gula Melaka)

• 105g rehydrated & blended dried chilies (cilli boh)

• 12g lemongrass, bashed

• 16g turmeric leaves (about 1-2 leaves)

• 1kg coconut milk

• 90g kerisik

• 2 tbsp salt


• Cut beef into large cubes of roughly 3cm by 3cm.

• Blend red onions, shallots, garlic, turmeric root, ginger, galangal and lemongrass roots until smooth.

• Chiffonade turmeric leaves.

• In a large, heavy pot, turn heat to high and immediately add beef, followed by the blended mixture, blended and rehydrated dried chilies, half the coconut milk, salt, kaffir lime leaves, bashed lemongrass and coconut sugar. Stir to mix evenly.

In goes most of the ingredients.

• Bring mixture to a boil then simmer on low heat until it starts looking dry. Keep stirring as it simmers.

Turn the heat down so mixture can simmer.

• Add remaining coconut milk and continue to simmer and stir until almost dry.

• Add half the turmeric leaves and kerisik.

The turmeric leaves and kerisik go in last.

• Keep stirring until the sauces have completely dried up. The whole process will take roughly three to four hours, so be patient.

Very dry.

• Once completely dried, place Beef Rendang in a serving dish and garnish with the remaining turmeric leaves. Serve with yellow glutinous rice (Pulut Kuning), Lemang, Nasi Impit, rice, or even soft, white bread.

Extra tips:

• If you plan to keep your Beef Rendang for future meals, allow it to cool completely (uncovered) overnight before storing it in an airtight container. Rendang can keep for a very long time, so if you want to eat it soon, refrigerate it. Otherwise, portion your Rendang into separate containers and freeze it. Frozen Rendang can keep for several months.

• You can also make Rendang with chicken. Tough, gamey meat also works well with Rendang as the long cooking process turns even the toughest of meat tender, although many more hours of cooking may be required.

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