Recipe: Rendang


Beef Rendang is an authentic traditional Indonesian food. It is hailed as the most delicious food by CNN Travel and I am proud of it. Some say it comes from Malaysia, some say it is from Indonesia specifically Sumatra. I say it is one of the same since Malay or Melayu heritage spans all the way through the island of Sumatra and also its neighbouring land, namely Malaysia and Singapore. So unless the area is not covered by the Malay heritage, nowhere is exactly right or wrong. My mother’s family come from West Sumatra in the part which called Pesisir Selatan (loosely translated into South Coast). West Sumatra itself known by Indonesian as the origin of Rendang. What is it exactly? Okay, so it is basically a food made from beef and coconut milk, and also a handful of spices and herbs. The perfect end result is a very dark brown colored dish, not yellow and not soaking wet with water. To achieve this, it takes some time and patience for at least 2 hour straight, depends on how much your portion is.


  • 1 kg of beef, cut into blocks
  • 1 L of thick coconut milk, dissolve with 500 ml water = 1,5 L of thinned coconut milk
  • 250 gr red pepper, not a paprika or a sweet pepper. This is optional, depends on how hot can you go
  • 200 gr shallots (bawang merah), preferably the small red-purple ones
  • 100 gr garlic (bawang putih)
  • 5 cm ginger (jahe)
  • 5 cm galangal (lengkuas)
  • 1 cm turmeric or kurkuma (kunyit)
  • 4 leaves of turmeric leaf (daun kunyit)
  • 10 leaves of lime leaves (daun jeruk)
  • 4 sticks of lemongrass (sereh), mashed
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste (asam kandis pasta)
  • 2 tbsp curry powder (bubuk kari)
  • Salt
  • Cooking oil


  1. Peel shallots and garlic and mashed and mix them together along with the peppers until smooth
  2. Mash ginger, galangal and turmeric
  3. Heat cooking oil in a big pan
  4. Fry all ingredients in number 1 and 2 and cook until they all tender and smell nicely
  5. Add salt, curry powder, tamarind, leaves and mashed lemongrass. Stir until the smell is strong
  6. Add half of the coconut milk mixture and stir again
  7. Put in the beef blocks and stir
  8. Put in the rest of the water and stir
  9. Keep the heat of medium high and stir periodically, around every 2-3 minutes until the coconut milk boiled
  10. After it is boiled, lower the stove heat and stir periodically around every 5 minutes. Make sure nothing gets burned especially the ones in the lowest part of the pan. Stir thoroughly
  11. The mixture will go from yellow curry-like consistency, into something more thick and condensed. Keep stirring until you achieve a dark brown colored mix and no more water in it. The mixture might become oily and greasy but no water.




Do not cut the beef into thin blocks, because the cooking process could take some time and the beef will be very tender and might eventually be separated and broken into smaller pieces. Also always remember to stir the mixture especially before the coconut milk is boiled, as coconut milk tend to separate it self into smaller clumps when cooked unattended and this will lead to the end result’s taste.


3 thoughts on “Recipe: Rendang

  1. That looks like proper Rendang! I once found the tinned version here in UK, sold by one of the biggest supermarket chains here, but my Indonesian friends who’d given it a try said it was a no-no. I haven’t tried making it myself even though that’s one of my favourite dishes.

    • You should try to make it with smaller portions so it will cook faster. And I believe all the spices have a powdered version of them and probably sold in any Asian stores (Chinese, Indian, Turkish, etc)

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