Rendang Daging (Indonesian beef coconut stew) Recipe

Updated: May 26

Rendang Daging is probably Indonesia's most famous meat dish. It is officially considered as one of Indonesia's top 5 national dishes. Rendang Daging originates from the Minangkabau region in West Sumatra but has spread troughout the Indonesian archipelago and to neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore. Basically, Rendang is a piece of meat - most commonly beef (daging) - slow cooked and braised for several hours in coconut milk and a herb and spice mixture, until the liquids evaporate and the meat turns dark brown, tender, caramelized and infused with rich spices.


In my traditional Indonesian advanced cooking workshop my guests cook Rendang from scratch. When the beef is slow-cooking in the coconut, herbs and spice mixture guests have enough time to prepare other dishes such as Terong Balado (Indonesian sweet and spicy eggplant in tomato sauce), Acar Ketimun (Indonesian pickled cucumber), Bami Goreng (Indonesian fried noodles with vegetables) and Nasi Putih (Indonesian steamed white pandan rice).

Rendang Daging: Indonesian slow cooked beef in coconut milk, herbs and spices

Rendang Daging: curry or stew?

Rendang Daging is commonly described as a curry but Indonesians don't see this dish as a curry because Indonesian curries usually contain more liquid. The slow-cooking technique which makes the meat so tender and evaporates most coconut liquid already flourished hundreds of years ago because it could preserve meat in a tropical climate. Prior to refrigerators, this cooking technique enabled preservation of large amounts of meat. Its durability is one of the reasons that nowadays prepackaged Rendang is sent as food aid to natural disaster survivors in Indonesia. If cooked properly, dry Rendang can last for as long as four weeks.

Indonesian Rendang Daging ingredients: beef chuck, coconut milk, aromatics, herbs and spices

Rendang Daging: Sumatran spices

Traditionally the term Rendang does not refer to a certain type of dish. The verb merendang actually refers to a method of slow cooking; continuously churning the ingredients in a pot or frying pan, on a small fire, until all the liquids evaporate and the meat is well done and falls apart. Rendang is very rich in spices and distincts itself from for Javanese and Balinese cuisine because different spices are used. Because of Indian influence, Sumatran cuisine uses cinnamon, cardamom, fennel seeds and star anise a lot. Along with these spices and the main meat ingredient, Rendang uses coconut milk and a paste of mixed ground spices, including ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemongrass, garlic, shallots, chillies and kaffir lime leaves.

Indonesian Rendang Daging spices: whole cardamom, cinnamon, clove, coriander, cumin, fennel and star anise

How to make Rendang Daging

To prepare Rendang Daging yourself first fry whole spices in a heated frying pan for a couple of minutes until they turn darker in color, or until they become fragrant or start to pop. Whole spices you should include are cardamom pods, cinnamon, cloves, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, peppercorns (preferably white) and star anise. Remove spices from pan and set aside to cool.


Add cooled spices to a mortar and grind them roughly using a pestle. Next, add spices and other spice paste ingredients (shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, turmeric, chillies and candlenuts) to a food processor and grind the ingredients into a smooth paste (bumbu).

Indonesian Rendang Daging spice paste (bumbu)

Next, heat oil in a large (cast-iron) Dutch oven/ skillet/ wok over medium heat. Add the spice paste, bruised lemongrass stalks, torn Kaffir lime leaves and fry for at least 10 minutes, or until mixture has reduced down to a thick paste, while stirring now and then.

Frying Indonesian Rendang Daging spice paste (bumbu)

Add beef and lime juice and stir to combine well. Gradually add the coconut milk, stirring until well combined and boiling. Add bruised galangal piece and reduce heat to as low as possible, cover pan and simmer for 1 hour.

Frying beef, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal and spice paste (bumbu) for Indonesian Rendang Daging

Uncover pan after one hour, stir well, add tamarind, sugar and salt to taste. Simmer for another 2-3 hours, or until the beef is very tender and sauce is slightly dry and oily. If the sauce doesn’t reduce and thickens as desired, uncover pan and simmer some more.

Thickened Rendang Daging: Indonesian beef coconut stew

Remove lemongrass, galangal piece and kaffir lime leaves before serving.


Serve with steamed white rice (nasi putih), fried rice (nasi goreng) and pickled cucumber (Acar Ketimun).

Daging Rendang (left side) with Nasi Goreng (fried rice), cucumber and kerupuk (prawn crackers)

If this Indonesian Rendang Daging recipe is a challenge for you to cook you could always join one of my traditional Indonesian advanced cooking workshops and I will guide you step-by-step how to prepare and cook Rendang Daging properly.



Ingredients for 4 people

For the beef:

  • 1 kg beef chuck steak, cut into large (3-4 cm) cubes

  • 2 stalks lemongrass, remove outer layers, bruised

  • 2cm piece galangal, peeled

  • 4 kaffir lime leaves, leaves torn

  • Juice of half a lime

  • 350 ml coconut cream/ milk

  • 1 tablespoon tamarind

For the spice paste (bumbu):

  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds (djintan)

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds (ketumbar)

  • 4 green cardamom pods

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 star anise

  • 2 cloves

  • 2 large Asian shallots or 5 small shallots

  • 5 garlic cloves

  • 1 lemongrass stalk, tender inner white part only

  • 2 cm piece ginger, peeled, grated, chopped/ 1 teaspoon ground ginger (djahé)

  • 2 cm piece galangal, peeled, chopped/ 1 teaspoon ground galanga (laos)

  • 2 cm piece fresh turmeric, peeled, chopped/ 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 5 red chillies, seeds and membranes removed (or leave some membranes in for extra heat)

  • 6 candlenuts (kemiri’s - if you can’t find them replace with macadamia nuts or cornstarch)

  • cooking oil (coconut, peanut, sunflower)


Instructions

  • Add whole spices (peppercorns, cumin, fennel, coriander, cardamom, cinnamon, star anise, cloves) to a frying pan over medium heat and fry spices until fragrant/ until they turn darker in color, for about 2 minutes while shaking the pan. Remove spices from pan and set aside to cool.

  • Add cooled spices to a mortar and grind them roughly using a pestle. Next, add spices and the other spice paste ingredients (shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, galangal, turmeric, chillies and candlenuts) to a food processor and grind the ingredients into a smooth paste (bumbu).

  • Heat oil in a large (cast-iron) Dutch oven/ skillet/ wok over medium heat. Add the spice paste, lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves and fry for at least 10 minutes, or until mixture has reduced down to a thick paste, while stirring now and then.

  • Add beef and lime juice and stir to combine well. Gradually add the coconut milk, stirring until well combined and boiling. Add galangal piece and reduce heat to as low as possible, cover pan and simmer for 1 hour.

  • Stir in the tamarind, and sugar and salt to taste. Simmer for another 2-3 hours, or until the beef is very tender and sauce is slightly dry and oily. If the sauce doesn’t reduce and thickens, uncover pan and simmer some more.

  • Remove lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves before serving.

  • Serve with steamed white rice (nasi putih), fried rice (nasi goreng) and pickled cucumber (acar ketimun)

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