Monday, December 10, 2007

Beef Rendang

....or Beef Ringsting as we used to refer to it in my family.

The Indians do not have a monopoly on curries despite what they might like to think. The Thais have their own versions, as do the Malays and Indonesians and the Japanese even tried to patent the term “curry” a short while ago claiming they had invented it.

Beef Rendang is probably Malaysia’s most well known and most loved curry. The generally held belief is that it actually originates from Indonesia though I am not sure how many Malays would agree with that. It is quite a dry curry, the sauce should become very thick and heavily coat al the cubes of beef. It is usually served with some steamed white rice and some little bowls of sambal on the side. One of the principal advantages of this dish is that once cooked it would actually keep without spoiling for weeks.

The joy of this curry is that the ingredients are all pretty easy to source, it is incredible easy and quick to prepare (though takes a long time to cook) and tastes fantastic.

Whilst the Brits in India in 1846 were eating the Bankshall curry the Brits in the so called Straits Settlements or the Federation of Malays States (as it was then) were eating dishes that have changed very little from this recipe.

Here’s what you do:

Ingredients for four servings

600g beef, stewing steak, cubed into quite large chunks


4 Thai birds eye chillis,
7 shallots, peeled
5 cloves garlic, peeeled
4cm piece ginger, peeled
2 onions, peeled
4 stalks lemon grass, finely sliced
3cm piece galangal, peeled
1 tbsp cumin powder
1 tbsp fennel seeds

1 litre thick coconut milk (extract from four grated coconuts)
1 litre water

2 tbsp kerisik (pounded dry-fried grated coconut)
1 tbsp finely-shredded lime leaves


1 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp brown sugar or to taste


With a mortar & pestle grind the fennel seeds as fine as possible.

Place the powder and rest of paste ingredients into a food processor and whizz to as fine a paste as possible. Add water if necessary to help it along.

Heat a heavy casserole dish over low/medium heat and throw in 1 tbsp groundnut oil, when hot add paste and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring all the time to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Chuck in the beef, coconut milk and water and bring to a slow simmer. Cook over low heat (or in the oven if you prefer (350F) for 1.5-2 hours until the beef has become very tender and the sauce has thickened nicely. If it is getting too dry add more water. I actually prefer to use the oven as I do worry that the bottom of the pan might burn. It will also take about 2 hours in the oven and do leave the lid off the casserole dish.

In a dry frying pan cook some grated coconut until brown and then pound in a mortar & pestle. It will burn quite easily so watch it.

Add this to the casserole dish (it is both a flavouring and a thickener) along with the lime leaves and cook until sauce has become really quite dry. Add any seasoning if required and serve.

During the cooking process you move from boiling and stewing to almost frying and it does produce a wonderful, rich and deeply flavoured dish.

Move over chicken tikka masala, this is the real stuff!


Anonymous said...

Absolutely delicious recipe..however, the mental picture which ensued after the subtitle, beef 'ringsting', coupled with the accompanying photo meant that a deep breath and a certain level of bravery was required to attempt it!I added a little deep fried mandarin peel as a garnish..but that's just me, and has absolutely nothing to do with stinging bits....

Alexander said...

This is not a blog for the faint-hearted...

What goes in, must come out...

Mufaddal said...

I'd like to put in a request for local arab recipes if you have them. Somehow all the arab food i've eaten here is either lebanese, iraqi, egyptian etc.. no local gulf fare.

Oh by the way you didnt mention how you came across the book (the one in the post before last)

Alexander said...



Or search for Matchbous on the front page. We'll post some more 'Khaleeji' fare in the new year - promise!

The book was given to me by my mum - it is inscribed 'Susan Attwood 1846' in the most amazing handwriting - like a wedding invitation font! You can buy copies online from specialist booksellers if you've got £100-150 to spare!

Hmm. Wonder how I've come to be commenting away, offtopic too, against HMHB's post!!! >;0)