Beef rendang, a savory and spicy stew

Beef rendang, a savory and spicy stew |

This is an updated version of my beef rendang recipe.

A traditional dish in Malaysia, beef rendang traces its origins from the Minangkabau ethnic group of the highlands of Western Sumatra in Indonesia.

Beef rendang is everything that a stew should be. It has a thick and well textured sauce, a warm color and all the savory goodness that makes you want to pour the sauce all over your rice to make the most of it.

Recipe: Beef rendang


  • 1-1/2 k. of stewing beef (I recommend short ribs), cut into 3-inch cubes
  • 4 tbsps. of vegetable cooking oil
  • 1 tbsp. of annatto seeds, optional
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass, white part only, bruised
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf
  • 5 to 6 c. of coconut milk
  • 1/4 c. of tamarind extract
  • 1/2 c. of dessicated coconut or 1 c. freshly grated coconut
  • fish sauce, to taste
  • 2 tbsp. of sugar
  • For the spice paste :
  • 1 tbsp. of crushed galangal
  • 1 whole garlic, bruised and peeled
  • 8 to 10 chili peppers (I used finger chilis; use bird”?s eye chilis for a spicier beef rendang), roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp. of coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp. of black peppercorns
  • 12 shallots (i.e., sibuyas Tagalog), roughly chopped
  • a piece of turmeric, about an inch cube
  • 1/2 tsp. of ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. of ground nutmeg


  1. First, make the spice paste. Grind the ingredients (with a mortar and pestle, a food processor or blender) until they turn into a thick paste.
  2. Place the beef cubes in a large shallow bowl or baking tray and pour the spice paste oven them. Work the paste into the meat and allow to marinate in the fridge for an hour.
  3. In a pan, dry toast the coconut until lightly browned. Set aside.
  4. Pour the cooking oil into heavy pot. Turn on the heat to medium. Add the annatto seeds. Stir the annatto seeds in the oil until they render color. You can skip this part altogether but the annatto seeds give the beef rendang better color.
  5. Turn up the heat to high. In the hot oil, add the chopped onion, lemongrass and cinnamon sticks. Cook, stirring, until the onion starts to soften. Add the beef with the marinade. Cook the beef over high heat until the marinade turns a bit thick.
  6. Pour in the coconut milk and tamarind extract; add the sugar. Add the toasted coconut and kaffir lime leaf. Stir. Bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 2 to 3 hours or until the beef is very tender. Remember to stir occasionally and scrape the bottom of the pot as the sauce thickens considerably during cooking and the coconut may stick to the bottom.
  7. Halfway through cooking, taste the sauce and add fish sauce to balance the flavors. If the liquid dries up before the beef is done, add water little by little, about half a cup each time.
  8. When the beef is done, taste the sauce once more and add more fish sauce if necessary.

  1. To serve, sprinkle with finely sliced onion leaves or cilantro. Serve the beef rendang with hot rice.
  2. If you like your beef rendang dry, during the last 15 minutes of cooking, turn up the heat to medium and cook uncovered, stirring often, until most of the liquid has evaporated.

Preparation time: 1 hour(s) 20 minute(s)

Cooking time: 3 hour(s)

Number of servings (yield): 6


  1. peterb says

    I first had Beef Rendang at Longrain in Rockwell. I was hesitant at first because i was told it was spicy. I really enjoyed that meal, i couldn’t stop eating it even if it was spicy! I’ve been staring at your Beef Randang pics, and i getting an appetite for something spicy! Most of the recipes i’ve seen about Beef Rendang involve a ready made paste from the grocery. You’re right, it does seem laborious but i think i’m up to the challenge :)

    I think i have all the ingredients except for turmeric (sayang, saw some last Friday), will regular ginger work? Also, i only have dried galangal, will that work? Thanks Connie!

  2. Marie says

    Hi Connie! I am an amateur cook and I really love your sites. I will try your beef rendang one of these days because the dish sure looks delicious. I have a question on the procedure. When do I add the 2 T of sugar? Thanks and more power

  3. Emily says

    Hi Connie,

    I am a Malaysian who frequently visit your site,love ’em! Your Rendang recipe is authenic, except for the addition of annatto seeds, but i fully aggree that it does give the dish a better colour. Rendang is quite a tough dish to master actually,
    Kudos to you, Connie!

  4. Kathy Galang says

    My husband loves rendang very much. We had this sought after carinderia who was also catering to the Indonesians in our neighborhood (university area.) It was from “Ate Baby” that we had our first taste of this yummy dish. Being an amateur cook, we usually just buy our ulam everyday. But ate moved away so I had to learn to cook hahaha. With some trial and error, I can say I pretty much got it right :)

    I was just happy to see it featured here on your blog. Have been an avid reader for 2 years now ever since I got married and decided to try honing my cooking skills for the family. More power to you Ate Connie! I’m always inspired by the dishes that you feature here.

  5. Pooja says


    made the beef rendang exactly according to your recipe. It came out rocking awesome! The final look of the dish is a lot like Indian/Pakistani stews but the flavour is entirely its own. Thanks for a keeper.