I’m not going to lie, this curry takes time but is well worth the investment. This was my second curry from scratch and I am very proud of my first foray into Malaysian curries.
Rendang is a dry curry, the rich spiced coconut sauce caramelising and getting darker as it cooks so be careful to stir it more often towards the end of the cooking time so that the sauce doesn’t burn.
Just don’t think about licking sauce from the lime leaves once you’ve removed them from the pot……after 3 hours of simmering, the sauce is hot and I may now have a scar from the burn on my chin inflicted by lava like sauce dripping from the leaf.
For the spice paste:
200g shallots, topped and tailed and roughly chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled
25g fresh root ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
75g chunk galangal, peeled and roughly chopped
3 plump red chillies, roughly chopped without deseeding
2 tbsp coconut or sunflower oil
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1kg beef braising steak, trimmed and cut into 3cm cubes
400ml can coconut milk
4 fresh kaffir lime leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 lemongrass stalks, dry outer leaves removed, cut in half lengthways
2 tsp soft light brown sugar or palm sugar
freshly squeezed juice of 1 lime
1 tsp flaked sea salt, plus extra to season
ground black pepper
toasted coconut flakes, to serve (optional)
In a food processor combine the shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal and chillies. Blend to a fine paste (you may need to remove the lid and push the mixture down a couple of times with spatula until the right consistency is reached).
Heat the oil in a large flame-proof casserole and fry the paste gently for 3-4 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the cumin, coriander and turmeric and cook for two minutes.
Add the beef to the pan and stir to coat in the paste and spices. Cook for five minutes, stirring constantly until the meat is very lightly coloured all over. Pour the coconut milk and 300ml cold water into the casserole. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, cinnamon stick, sugar, lime juice and salt and bring to a simmer.
Reduce the heat and leave to gently simmer uncovered for about 2½-3 hours, or until the meat is beautifully tender and the sauce is very thick, glossy and rich. Stir the beef occasionally towards the beginning of the cooking time then more often as the coconut milk reduces. Season to taste with more salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Pick out the lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and cinnamon stick and spoon the curry into serving dishes with some sticky rice and steamed vegetables then sprinkle with the toasted coconut, if using.