Beef rendang with coconut and cucumber salad

Another day, another opportunity to eat until I hate myself.

Beef rendang is a rich, spicy curry made with plenty of coconut cream and coconut flesh. A slight sour taste from the tamarind juice is balanced out with brown sugar (or more traditionally, palm sugar), infused with kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass stalks and a hint of cinnamon.

Already you can tell it’s going to be great.

Traditionally rendang is made by simmering the crap out of the dish for hours until all the liquid is evaporated, leaving a coating for the meat. This version, based on Rick Stein’s version, is cooked for a shorter amount of time therefore leaving a nice thick gravy for soaking up with rice. And don’t we all love doing that.

Rick also pairs it with a cucumber salad, again, which I have changed. Also in the photos the cucumber looks quite long, which I have changed in this recipe, as it was rather awkward to fit into your mouth.

Scroll down for the recipe

Beef rendang (1)

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Beef rendang (10)

Beef rendang with coconut and cucumber salad

IngredientsBeef rendang (10)

Spice paste
120g (4oz) desiccated coconut
2 dried Kashmiri chillies
220g (7.5oz) onion, roughly chopped
30g (1oz) garlic, roughly chopped
50g (1.5oz) peeled ginger, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons freshly ground coriander seeds
1 teaspoon freshly ground cumin
1/3 cup of water

900g (32oz) blade steak/stewing beef
800ml coconut cream (including 2 tablespoons to use in the salad dressing
Spice paste (see above)
½ cup tamarind water
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (less if you don’t like heat)
10 kaffir lime leaves
2 sticks of cinnamon
3 stalks of lemon grass, bashed with a rolling pin
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 cups cooked jasmine rice, to serve

2 tablespoons coconut cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon shrimp paste
Handful fresh green beans
1 cucumber
75g (2.5oz) coconut, finely grated
100g (3.5oz) shallots, sliced thinly into half-moons


  1. Make the spice paste by blending all ingredients in a food processor
  2. Cut the beef into chunks about 4cm long
  3. In a large, heavy pan, heat a few tablespoons of oil, and fry the beef for about 3 minutes until coloured.
  4. Add the spice paste, tamarind, coconut cream (remembering to leave 2 tablespoons aside for the salad dressing), salt, cayenne, lime leaves, cinnamon and lemon grass and stir in well.
    It can be hard to stir because of all the bits and pieces, but I put the spoon against the bottom of the pot and stir on the spot in tight circles – using this technique it eventually mixes in without splashing everywhere
  5. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer, and then simmer (uncovered) for 2 hours, checking it every twenty minutes or so. It may need a few tablespoons of water towards the end, to keep the gravy from drying up.
  6. While the rending is cooking, mix the coconut cream, lemon juice, sugar and shrimp paste in a small bowl.
  7. Mix the cucumber, shallots, beans and coconut flesh in a bowl, and toss the dressing in just before serving
  8. When the rendang is done, remove the lemon grass, lime leaves and cinnamon sticks. Add the sugar, and more salt if needed. Serve with the rice and salad, and chopped coriander on top (optional).


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