Malaysian Beef Rendang

Malaysian Rendang is a delicious slow cooked beef dish simmered in coconut milk and spices.   The cut of beef used is usually a cheap cut that is good for slow cooking.  Eventually the tough part of the meat breaks down over time and becomes tender.  The dish starts off with a lot of liquid and slowly evaporates as it’s cooking.  Eventually the liquid cooks almost completely off, coating the beef with tasty coconut flavor, tamarind, and spices.  This is a great weekend project to try as the results are really satisfying but it’s also a labor intensive dish that requires a lot of time and effort.  If you have trouble finding the ingredients at grocery stores, I would recommend going to a local asian or Thai market which might carry the more obscure ingredients.  The dish is popular in Southeast Asia and once I made it I could see why!  The beef was tender and bursting with flavor.  I served it with a side of Malaysian flat bread called ‘Roti’ which was a perfect accompaniment to scoop up the last bits of sauce.

Malaysian Beef Rendang
(Makes 3-4 servings)
Printable Version


  • 2 lb. Beef chuck steak, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsp shaved coconut, toasted
  • 15 Oz. unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1/3 cup tamarind concentrate
  • 2 tbsp kaffir lime zest
  • 2 kaffir limes, juice
  • 3 tbsp lemongrass paste
  • 13 Japanese chilies, boiled, seeded and minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 tbsp galangal, minced
  • 1 cup shallots (about 6 shallots), diced
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 3-inch-long cinnamon stick, snapped in half
  • 1 tbsp coriander, ground
  • 2 tsp cumin, ground
  • 2 tsp fennel, ground
  • 2 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • cilantro, chopped for garnish (optional)
  • 1 green onion, chopped for garnish (optional)


  1. In a bowl, mix together the galangal, garlic, ginger, lime zest, shallots, lemongrass paste, and minced chilies.
  2. In another bowl combine the coriander, cumin, turmeric, fennel, and black pepper.
  3. In a large sauce pot, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add the cinnamon stick, whole anise, cardamom pods, and cloves and cook on medium high for about 2 minutes until fragrant.  
  4. Add the dry ground ingredients and cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
  5. Add the paste and the rest of the oil and stir, cooking on medium high for another 3-4 minutes.
  6. Add the beef and salt and cook until the pieces have browned a little on all sides.
  7. Add the coconut milk, tamarind, water, lime juice, and palm sugar. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.
  8. Cook low and covered for 30 minutes, then uncovered for 1 hour while stirring occasionally.
  9. Add the shaved and toasted coconut flakes and cook for another hour, stirring frequently.  The beef will be ready when the sauce has cooked off and the meat has become dark in color and fork tender.
  10. Remove the whole spices before serving and garnish with cilantro leaves and green onion.  Serve with roti or rice.


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