Beef Rendang is a classic meal from Indonesia that will become a classic in your kitchen as well! The titular beef is braised over hours in a rich, spicy coconut milk sauce until it is fall-apart tender and infused with the bold seasonings and distinct sweetness of the diverse flavors. The sauce is equal parts hot, bright, citrusy, smoky, and tropical, which makes the meat unlike anything you’ve ever tasted before. Beef Rendang is fantastic when piled over rice or eaten all on its own, and while it takes a little patience to make, trust us when we say it is so, so worth it.

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For the curry paste:

  • 1/2 cup water, simmering
  • 3-6 Birdseye chilies, tops chopped off
  • 3 shallots or 1/2 large onion, peeled
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, white parts only, sliced, cut into pieces
  • 1 3-inch piece fresh galangal or ginger, peeled
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

For the beef:

  • 1/4 cup coconut, unsweetened and shredded
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds chuck roast, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 lemongrass, cut into 4-inch lengths and pounded
  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can low-sodium beef broth
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind puree or lemon juice
  • 4 large kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced or substitute with 4 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and the zest of 1 lime
  • 1 palm sugar, grated or 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt


Step 1 –In a high-powdered blender, add the water, the chiles, the shallots, the garlic, 3 of the lemongrass stalks, the galangal, the turmeric, the cardamom, the cloves, and the nutmeg and blend until very smooth.

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Step 2 –Heat a skillet over medium-low heat.

Step 3 –Add the shredded coconut and toast, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.

Step 4 –Transfer the toasted coconut to a bowl.

Step 5 –Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat.

Step 6 –Once the oil is hot, add 1/2 of the beef, searing on all sides.

Step 7 –Transfer the seared beef to a plate and repeat with the remaining oil and beef.

Step 8 –Reduce the heat to medium-low.

Step 9 –Add the curry paste to the pot and cook until the moisture reduces and the paste thickens and begins to caramelize, about 4-5 minutes.

Step 10 –Add the beef, the coconut, the cinnamon stick, the star anise, the remaining lemongrass, the coconut milk, the beef broth, the tamarind puree, kaffir lime leaves, the palm sugar, and the salt to the pot.

Step 11 –Bring the mixture to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. You want to maintain a gentle simmer.

Step 12 –Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the meat is very tender, about 1 hour 30 minutes-2 hours. Stir more frequently in the last 30 minutes to prevent burning.

Step 13 –Remove the lid of the Dutch oven and simmer and stir until the beef is fall-apart tender and the sauce is almost a paste, about 20 minutes.

Step 14 –Discard the lemongrass, the star anise, and the cinnamon stick.

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Step 15 –Serve.