Rendang (Beef Curry)

Did you know Rendang was voted the number one choice of World’s 50 Best food by CNN? See the article here. Yes, it’s the Rendang that we and the past generations have been cooking for decades. The Malays cooked Rendang just like any other everyday dish. Well, I cooked this dish at least twice a month.

Rendang is an Indonesian dish. It is believed to have originated from West Sumatra. Traders from Sumatra spread this dish to other regions when they migrated. For more information on the history of Rendang please click here.

Rendang (Beef Curry)

Rendang (Beef Curry)

There are many variations of Rendang. The common ones are those that are quite wet with gravy. However, I have been to Indonesian restaurants that serves dry version of Rendang. The original Rendang is said to be the dry version and is very dark in appearance. It is cooked till quite dry so that it can last a long journey because traders travelled by boats or ships then. Being dry means it is more durable and well preserved. It is said to be able to last for a couple of weeks in room temperature.

Rendang used to be cooked only for special occasions but times have changed. Now you can find Rendang in any foodstalls selling Nasi Padang anywhere in Singapore.

Rendang is one of the traditional dishes that I cooked during Hari Raya. Below is the recipe. My version of Rendang is quite wet but still with little gravy.

Preparation Time: 45 mins – 1 hour

Cooking Time: 30 – 45 minutes

Ingredients to cook the meat you will need:

  • 1.5 kilogram of beef meat, sliced to slightly bigger than bite-size or to your desired size
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3-4 cardamom
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 cube or 1 tsp of Knorr Beef stock (optional)
  • Enough water to cover and  boil the beef


  1. Add the beef meat into the pot and pour the water over it. Ensure the meat is submerged in water.
  2. Add in all the above ingredients and cook the meat till tender, meaning you can tear a piece of meat apart with little effort.

Tip: Add in a metal ladle or a spoon into the pot while cooking the meat. The metal ladle or spoon will retain more heat in the pot thus cooking the meat faster. Alternatively you can use meat tenderizer so follow the instructions on the label.

Ingredients for the spice paste or rempah:

Ingredients for Rendang

Ingredients for Rendang

  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
  • 3 shallots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, sliced
  • 1 inch fresh galangal, peeled and chopped
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 inch of fresh turmeric, peeled and chopped


  1. Ground the above ingredients to a paste using a blender.

Other Ingredients:

  • 400 grams of coconut milk
  • 1 cup cooking oil ( I used Canola oil)
  • 80 grams of fresh chilli paste
  • 1 stalk of turmeric leaf, sliced thinly
  • Salt and Sugar to taste


  1. In a hot wok or pan, add the oil and fry the spice paste or rempah until the oil separates meaning oil starts to float on top and there is lesser steam.
  2. Add in the beef meat and let it cook for about 10 – 15 minutes. Cook on low flame.
  3. Next, add in the chili paste and mix well.
  4. Add in the coconut milk and stir.  Add in the salt and sugar to taste. Let it cook until the steam is reduced and the gravy is very thick or almost dry.
  5. Add in the sliced turmeric leaf and stir well. Remove from the heat once there is little gravy left.

I spent less time on the actual cooking because the beef meat is already tender when I boiled it in the earlier stage. The gravy don’t take such a long time to cook because I cooked it on medium heat most of the time.

Hope you can give this traditional dish a try. By the way I have added two new pages in blog, they are Malay Festivals and Malays Common Social Etiquette. I hope you find them useful and if I forgot to mention anything, do drop your comments below.

I am currently working on another page on Malay Weddings and customs. If you have any other ideas or questions please share. For all you know, that may lead to many more discoveries of forgotten customs and traditions. Thanks for reading and Have a nice day ahead ya 🙂


5 thoughts on “Rendang (Beef Curry)

    • Normally it’s done that way but if you or any of your family members are rather health-conscious then you may want to skip the frying stage. Just slice your potatoes and eggplants thin so that it get cooked through. Hope this helps.

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