Malaysian Beef Rendang

Exactly two years ago, on April 9th, 2012, I started this blog.

Encouraged by my friend Angela, from Vegangela, and after a long indecisive period, I decided to dive in not knowing where it would lead, and this was my very first post.

It has been a very fulfilling adventure and I only wish I had more time on my hands to follow more blogs than I do, than I can.

To all of you who are faithful followers, to all of you who have encouraged me in the past or the present, to all of you who are still there after two years, I want to say: a big thank you! It is very much appreciated!

I tried Beef Rendang for the first time over 10 years ago in my favorite ethnic restaurant in Ottawa, Chahaya Malaysia on Montreal Road. I immediately fell in love with those flavors. It is simply the best beef curry you will ever have. Although I was never able to recreate the exact taste of the dish they serve at their restaurant, my version is based on trial and error and I think you will find it is quite satisfying in every way. Don’t be thrown off by the number of ingredients in this recipe, a simple trip to your Asian market and you will be ready to cook. Leave it in the refrigerator for a couple of days and it will gain in complexity. Now, this dish is supposed to be quite spicy, but I have reduced the amount of dried hot pepper to please a large crowd, and people enjoyed it as much.

The final dish should be a bit on the dry side. A beef rendang usually does not have a lot of sauce but if you enjoy it a little more wet, add a bit more water toward the end.

Beef Rendang

For the chili paste:

15 dried chilies (I use japone pods)
5 shallots
5 cloves of garlic
3 lemongrass stalks
1 piece turmeric root (optional)
1 inch galangal
1 inch ginger


5 tbsp vegetable oil
3 star anise
1 three inch stick of cinnamon
8 whole cloves
10 cardamom pods
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground fennel seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground black pepper

For the rendang:

1 kg boneless beef cut into ½ inch cubes
1 can (400 ml) coconut milk
1 cup water
6 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
2 tbsp tamarind concentrate
2 tbsp sweet soya sauce (Kekap Manis)
2 ½ tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp dried unsweetened coconut


  1. Start by making the chili paste. Soak the dried chilies in hot water for 15-20 minutes. Add all the other ingredients in a blender and blend until you have a very fine paste. Touch the paste with your fingers and if it is not smooth, add more water and blend some more. Set aside.
  2. In a heavy bottom pot, heat the oil on medium-low heat and add the spices. Toss them in the oil for a few minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add the chili paste to the pot and stir for about 10 minutes, until it takes a nice brownish color.
  4. Add the beef and coat well with the mixture.
  5. Add the coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves, tamarind pulp, sweet soya sauce and salt and stir.
  6. Simmer on low heat, uncovered for 2 ½ to 3 hours, until the beef falls apart and the sauce is sort of dry.
  7. Toast the coconut in a dry pan on medium heat until it reaches a deep golden color. Towards the end of cooking, add it to the beef and let simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the whole spices if you want. Serve with basmati rice and keep the rest in the fridge. The flavor will improve with time and it will keep for at least one week.

Based on a recipe from Rasamalaysia

15 replies »

    • Hi Kathryn, I have thought about adapting this recipe for the slow cooker, however I never had the courage to do it. Please tell me how it turns out if you try. I will do the same.


  1. I’m so pleased I spotted this post!! I love beef rendang, in fact, it’s usually the only dish I order at a Malaysian restaurant. Just this evening in fact, as I was eating a rather unsatisfactory and oily version I discussed with my kids the possibilty of making it ourselves – but where could we get a decent recipe from….well voila, here it is!! Actually I’m wondering whether the Dean Martin soundtrack in the Malaysian restaurant may have put the chefs off their game this evening. Nice blog.


  2. Hi Dr. Dan,

    I’m so glad this recipe is on your blog. I can’t wait to try it. My question: what is galangal and were does one buy it and all of the other ingredients like Kekep Manis and Kaffir lime leaves in gatineau!


    • Hi Jen,
      galangal is a root similar to ginger but different in taste (it is in the picture). You can find all these ingredients at Manphong Supermarket, 775 Somerset West in Ottawa, at the corner of Lorne St. This is where I buy all my asian food. The owners are very helpful. Just tell them what you need and they will show you. You will not find them in Gatineau. Good luck and tell me how it turns out!


  3. Margaret
    August 30, 2012 at 21:37 # Edit

    Nice blog. Your photos are so tempting.
    Regarding the rendang recipe that you used and asked our opinion about:
    It is one of many legitimate variations on the rendang theme. My husband the chef, says that 2 things would bring your rendang closer to the flavor at Chahaya Malaysia. Instead of just whole coconut, you should be dry roasting it on the top of the stove until it is browned and then be pureeing it with a little oil before stirring it into the rendang when it is about 3/4 cooked. This is a very important treatment of the coconut for this dish and it is called krisik. Adding fresh turmeric leaf is also recommended.The chili that we use is dried chili, some of it fried in oil and broken, and some of it soaked with a little boiling water and thoroughly pureed. Your recipe contains spices that are not in our rendang, such as cinnamon, star anise, cumin, and sweet soya sauce. These are definitely ingredients in some forms of rendang, just not in ours.
    All of this said, I think that your rendang sounds delicious, and maybe you shouldn’t change it too much for fear of loosing the art of the original recipe that you used. I hope this is helpful to you :) – Margaret and Buddy of Chahaya Malaysia
    (copy/pasted from the page About)


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