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Beef Rendang Malaysian Beef “Curry”

Beef rendang is a wonderfully spiced aromatic thick curry loaded with toasted coconut, coconut milk and the unique flavour of tamarind.

This dish is Malaysian and Indonesian in influence and whilst it takes a long time to cook, most of the time you can chill out with your feet up drinking in that heady aroma.

Beef rendang curry with rice, chilli and coriander served on a banana leaf.

Malaysian Beef and Coconut “Curry”

Rendang is an ancient dish that dates back to at least the 15th Century and originally served as a form of preservation.

Modern-day beef rendang has spread from its Indonesian homeland throughout the nations of Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

It is a wonderful slow-cooked dish that rocks spices that I often consider to be more Indian than South East Asian.

Those spices are wrapped up in a thick and heavily reduced coconut milk and toasted coconut milk paste.

The classic sour flaovur of the rendang comes courtesy of tamarind. An ingredient that I adore and use in dishes as diverse as my pheasant curry, tamarind glazed duck legs and of course a classic beef massaman curry.

It is a dish that takes a few hours to cook but don’t stress because once the prep is out of the way it is extremely easy.

All you do is give it a stir every 30 minutes or so and keep an eye on it every 15 minutes for the last 45 minutes.

If you like this then you mush checkout my vegan mushroom rendang recipe.

Overhead close-up beef rendang curry with rice, chilli and coriander served on a banana leaf.

Frequently Asked Questions

What cut of beef should I use in a rendang curry?

You want something that will hold up to long slow cooking so some form of stewing or braising steak is ideal.

Use something like chuck, shin, neck or even beef cheeks!

I would avoid store-chopped stewing beef mainly because the chunks are too small.

Can I make this in advance?

Yes, rendang will sit in the fridge for a couple of days and improve over time. It just needs to be gently reheated over a low flame.

It will also freeze really well and will last for months in the freezer without degrading. Defrost before reheating.

Can I cook this in a slow cooker, Instant Pot or pressure cooker?

No, the whole process for cooking any rendang is the reduction of the sauce and none of these items promote reduction.

Do I have to toast the coconut?

In my opinion, yes, the “keresik” as it is called in Malay adds so much to the flavour of the recipe.

I’ve been cooking for an hour and nothing seems to be happening, should I turn it up?

No, initially, it may seem as though the reduction process will take forever but be patient and try not to hurry the process. 

But the final period of reduction happens in the blink of an eye, just be vigilant! Then keep stirring and remove from the heat when you are happy with the texture.

Can I serve this as a wetter curry?

Yes, stop the cooking whenever you are comfortable, a slightly wetter rendang is called a kalio.

Close-up beef rendang curry showing the texture of the perfectly cooked beef.

Serving Suggestions

I usually keep my sides for beef rendang really simple, with a little extra chilli and coriander for garnish and a bit of rice on the side.

I usually opt for plain boiled or steamed rice, rendang has more than enough flavour to go around. If you wanted to double down on the coconut, you could also serve this with coconut rice.

If you wanted a more substantial side I would look at serving an Indonesian salad.

Something like gado gado or urap sayur would be ideal, particularly the latter which features coconut!

Overhead beef rendang curry with rice, chilli and coriander served on a banana leaf.

Equipment Used

I only name-check brands of equipment if I think that they make a material difference to a recipe. But if you have any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section below the recipe.

  • Stovetop.
  • Wok.
  • Chopping board.
  • Kicthen knife.
  • Small mixing bowl.
  • Fine mesh sieve.
  • Stirring and serving spoons.
  • Mini blender.
  • Weighing scales and or measuring jug, cups and spoons.
Malaysian influenced beef rendang curry served with rice on a banana leaf.
Yield: 2 Servings

Spicy Beef Rendang Recipe

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Beef rendang is a spicy hot stew or curry type of dish from Malaysia and Indonesia, typified by a hot and sour flavour, the heat naturally comes from chilli and the sour from tamarind. It is all mellowed and tempered by coconut milk and toasted desiccated coconut.


  • 400g (14oz) Beef
  • 35g (1½") Cube Tamarind Pulp
  • 35ml (2 Tbsp) Boiling Water
  • 25g (Thumb sized piece) Ginger
  • 70g (2-3) Shallots
  • 3 Large Medium Hot Red Chilli Peppers
  • 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Stick of Lemongrass
  • 6 dried chilli peppers
  • 25g (¼ Cup) Desiccated Coconut
  • 3 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 1 Tsp Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 10 Lime Leaves
  • 200g (7oz) Tin Coconut Milk
  • 250ml (1 Cup) Water
  • 2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • ½ Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 1 Tbsp Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Nut Oil


  1. Cut the beef into 4-5cm (1½-2") cubes.
  2. Place the tamarind in a bowl, pour over the boiling water and gently mash. Allow the pulp to sit for 10 minutes, then mash again and finally pass it through a fine mesh sieve.
  3. Peel and roughly chop the ginger.
  4. Cut the shallots in half and peel them.
  5. Roughly chop the chilli peppers.
  6. Peel the garlic cloves.
  7. Peel the tough outer layers from the lemongrass, bash it with the blunt end of the knife to bruise it and then roughly chop it up.
  8. Place the ginger, shallots, red chilli peppers, garlic, lemongrass, and dried chilli peppers in a mini blender with a couple of tablespoons of water and blend to a paste.
  9. Cut the tough stalks from the lime leaves and discard them, then shred the leaves as finely as you can.
  10. Heat a dry wok over a medium-high heat and add the desiccated coconut and toast it until it is nice and golden, then remove and set aside.
  11. Return the wok to a high heat and when it is hot add the oil, cinnamon stick, and star anise and fry for 30 seconds.
  12. Add the shallot paste that we made earlier and fry it for 2-3 minutes or until any water has evaporated.
  13. Throw in the beef and stir to coat then pour in the coconut milk and water, then stir.
  14. Add the tamarind, fish sauce, lime juice, shredded lime leaves, cumin, coriander, dark brown sugar and toasted coconut stir then reduce the heat to very low, then cook for 3 hours stirring every 30 minutes for the first 2 hours, then every 15 minutes for the final hour.
  15. If there is still a lot of "liquid" left after the 3 hours keep cooking until the mixture has completely thickened and become dark, thick and unctuous!

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 981Total Fat: 52gSaturated Fat: 29gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 20gCholesterol: 198mgSodium: 1658mgCarbohydrates: 65gFiber: 8gSugar: 29gProtein: 76g

Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

Did you make this recipe?

If you made this recipe, I'd love to see what you did and what I can do better, share a picture with me on Instagram and tag me @krumplibrian and tell me how it went!


Monday 3rd of July 2023

Brian, Thank you for this fantastic recipe. I made my own interpretation of it, and it is DELICIOUS!!!

The spices I used are not all the same as yours. I used caraway, bay leaf powder, coriander powder, nutmeg powder, whole black cardamoms, star aniseed, szechuan pepper, black pepper, some whole dried red chillies and a dash of soy sauce. I also added some carrot and sweet potato to pot when the beef had cooked. Apart from that I largely followed your procedure; however, I wanted to add lime juice at the end (I don't think it should go in at the beginning), but I couldn't because the curry was already well flavoured.

It is a SUPERB dish. The caraway/aniseed blend dominates the finished spice profile, and this pairs wonderfully with the sweet sour tamarind/coconut.

Just need to work in dash of fresh citrus on the next attempt...

Brian Jones

Sunday 30th of July 2023

Glad you enjoyed it Irfan, recipes are always a jumping off point and I'm more than happy to be the inspiration for someone's tasty dinner :)



Tuesday 12th of March 2019

You know, I'm really not sure why I haven't made rendang myself as I really do love tamarind as well. This looks wonderful, I can't wait to try.

Brian Jones

Thursday 14th of March 2019

Have fun :)


Tuesday 12th of March 2019

I love the colours in this. Just beautiful and for me too, the spicier the better. Your recipe is a great reminder to make this beef dish again, I have not made it is a while. Thank you for the inspo Brian!

Brian Jones

Thursday 14th of March 2019

You are welcome! Enjoy!

Immaculate Ruemu

Tuesday 12th of March 2019

I love that your recipe has more sauce, perfect to go with the rice and I love spice, so can't wait to make this!

Brian Jones

Thursday 14th of March 2019

Thank you!


Tuesday 12th of March 2019

The meat looks good, I am also a spicy sauce type of person. I remember the delicious rendang we had on our honeymoon. I will try to make it this weekend to bring back memories.

Brian Jones

Tuesday 12th of March 2019

Thanks Laura... Enjoy!

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