Rich and bursting with flavor, beef rendang curry is a Malaysian specialty that features beef, spicy red chilies, creamy coconut milk, and plenty of other spices and seasonings. Very similar to a stew — but less saucy — it’s delicious when served over a bed of white rice!
Not all curry is created equally, and it’s made differently across the globe. There’s Indian chicken curry (murgh Kari), Thai yellow shrimp curry, Japanese beef curry, and chicken Panang curry made in the Instant Pot — just to name a few!
Today’s beef rendang curry recipe is a popular dish in Malaysia. It’s considered to be a “dry” curry, which means there isn’t a lot of sauce. But, where this dish lacks in sauce it makes up for in flavor! The beef is slow-cooked until perfectly tender, and the homemade curry paste is made with spicy red chilies, ginger, and galangal.
It all comes together to create a wonderfully delicious meal that you can serve over rice. This dish takes a while to cook, but it is so worth it. Plus, it’s really easy to put together!
INGREDIENT NOTES AND SUBSTITUTIONS
- Beef – I typically use beef chuck, but you can use any type of slow-cooking beef.
- Coconut Milk – Use full fat canned, not the kind from a carton, for the best flavor and texture in your beef rendang.
- Shredded Coconut – To add even more coconut flavor to this dish! Opt for unsweetened.
- Vegetable Oil – You’ll need oil to make the curry paste and to brown the beef.
- Chilies – I typically use dried chile de Arbol that I rehydrate. You can also use fresh Thai red chilies (cayenne). Feel free to cut the chili quantity in half if you don’t like spicy foods.
- Onion & Garlic – Used in the homemade curry paste for extra oomph.
- Lemongrass – You need to the white part of the stalks for the curry paste. I also like to add a bit to the pan as the beef cooks.
- Ginger – Make sure to scrape off the skin of the ginger before chopping. I usually use a spoon!
- Galangal – Similar to ginger but more peppery, this root is popular in Malaysian cooking. If you can’t find any, you can replace it with extra ginger and a bit of extra black pepper.
- Star Anise – Boasting a sweet and licorice flavor, add this to the pan as the beef cooks.
- Salt – Use salt to balance out the other spices and seasonings.
- Brown Sugar – I like to add a little sweetness to the mix for this recipe. It works wonderfully with the coconut!
- Cinnamon Sticks – Again, this ingredient complements the brown sugar and coconut.
- Ground Clove – Warm and earthy, cloves are surprisingly tasty in beef dishes.
- Cardamom Powder – Herbal and citrusy, cardamom is a welcome addition to your beef rendang curry.
- Tamarind – Use in purée, paste, or pulp form.
- Kaffir Lime Leaves – Boasting a concentrated lime aroma, kaffir lime leaves are worth hunting down. You can also use fresh juice and zest from a regular lime as a replacement, if you can’t find them.
HOW TO MAKE BEEF RENDANG CURRY
1. Create The Curry Paste. Add the chilies, onion, garlic, lemongrass stalks, galangal, ginger, and vegetable oil to a food processor and blitz until it becomes smooth.
2. Brown The Beef. Place the remaining vegetable oil in a Dutch oven and heat over medium-high. Season the beef with salt, then brown in batches — be sure not to overcrowd the pot or it will steam. Set aside once all of the beef has been browned.
3. Assemble The Beef Rendang. Using the same pot, add the curry paste and heat over medium. Cook for 3 minutes, making sure to stir often as it darkens and reduces. Add the coconut milk, shredded coconut, star anise, cinnamon, brown sugar, cardamom, clove, tamarind, lime leaves, and remaining lemongrass. Place the beef back in the pan and stir. Bring to a simmer, cover, and allow to cook on low for 2 hours.
4. Allow To Reduce & Thicken. Remove the lid and stir, then turn the heat up to medium and cook for another 20-30 minutes. The sauce should reduce and thicken — stir often to avoid sticking. Remove from heat and serve immediately over steamed rice!
What Is Rendang Curry Made Of?
Rendang is a rich and flavorful dish that always includes some type of protein (I favor beef), coconut milk, and a curry paste. The paste is made with chilies, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, garlic, and other seasonings and spices.
What’s The Difference Between Rendang And Curry?
Most curries have a stew-like consistency that features a lot of sauce. While rendang is a type of curry, it is typically described as “dry” as most of the liquid cooks off as it simmers.
What Goes With Beef Rendang?
I like to keep things simple and serve this dish over a bed of steamed white rice. You could also cook the rice in coconut milk to bring out the coconut flavor in the rendang, like I do in my Thai Baked Halibut recipe!
Beef Rendang Curry
- 2 lbs beef chuck or other slow cooking beef, cut into 2″ cubes
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 14 oz coconut milk full fat
- 1/3 cup shredded coconut
- 5 star anise
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 tsp cardamon powder
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1 tbsp tamarind puree / paste or tamarind pulp (See Note 5)
- 5 large kaffir lime leaves (See Note 6)
- 1 lemongrass stick bottom white half and slightly smashed to release flavor.
- Blitz the curry paste ingredients in a food processor until fine. Scrape down sides and blend completely.
- Add the oil to a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Season the beef with salt and brown in batches. Don’t over crowd the pot or it will steam. Set aside in bowl.
- Over medium heat add the Curry Paste to the pan and cook 3 minutes, stirring often as it darkens and reduces.
- Add the remaining ingredients (coconut milk through lemongrass stick) and the browned beef with accumulated juices. Stir together and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook on Low for 2 hours.
- Remove lid and stir. Turn heat to medium and cook another 20-30 minutes until sauce reduces and thickens, stirring often.
- Serve over steamed rice.
- If using dried like chile de arbol found in most markets, rehydrate with boiling water in a small bowl. Otherwise use fresh red Thai chiles (cayenne). Feel free to cut chiles in half, this is spicy!
- Trim the root end and peel the reedy green outer shell to reveal the softer white part on the bottom half of the lemongrass. Chop into 1-inch pieces.
- Galangal is like ginger but it has a peppery flavor. If you can’t find it, substitute with more ginger and a grind of black pepper. Use a small spoon to scrape the outer skin off, then chop.
- Use a small spoon to scrape the outer skin off, then chop.
- If using tamarind pulp, soak in 1 tbsp of hot water, then remove seeds. Equal amount of white vinegar can be substituted if you can’t find. It can be purchased in most Asian markets (I but the Tamicon brand).
- Kaffir lime leaves are worth hunting down in most Asian/South East Asian markets and have the most amazing, concentrated lime aroma. I stack them, then roll up like a cigar and slice fine for long, thin strips. You can substitute with dried kaffir lime leaves and crush them. Lastly, you can substitute by using 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice and the zested rind of 1 lime.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.