Spicy Beef Rendang Recipe

Beef Rendang is an Indonesian dish that I consider a curry, although it is not thought of that way in Indonesia. My version is a little wetter and closer to a Kalio but keeps all the delicious hot and sour flavour!

Portrait image of an Indonesian Beef Rendang served on a black plate with rice, lime wedges and chilli ribbons.

Slow Cooked Hot and Sour Beef Rendang.

This recipe is typified by the hot and sour flavour that typifies a rendang.

That sourness comes from tamarind an ingredient I adore. It has the most incredible earthy rich sour flavour and I use it to provide the sour element for dishes like my Chicken Pathia recipe and in my slow roast duck legs.

That sourness is given another boost with fresh lime juice at the end.

Then, of course, we have the heat… That unsurprisingly comes from chilli.

Is it hot? Yes… Well, it should be!

But that heat is tempered by coconut milk, so it is that delicious mellow heat. Similar in many ways to a Thai Green Curry.

You can push the amount of chilli up and down depending on your tastes but this recipe should leave you perspiring a little.

Close up portrait image of alime wedge served in front of an out of focus beef rendang with red chilli ribbons.

What is a Kalio?

I mentioned that my Beef rendang recipe contains a little more sauce than a traditional rendang recipe.

Why? Well because I am a saucy kinda chap!

This is strictly speaking called a kalio. It contains the same ingredients but is cooked in less time and not reduced as far.

The long slow cooking and the intense reduction of a dry rendang would initially have helped its shelf life.

There are reports of it lasting a month without spoiling in the refrigerator. Not something I would want to try to be honest!

I suppose in many ways that is a similar idea to the sour agents used in an Indian Chicken Pickle.

Square image of an Indonesian Beef Rendang served on a black plate with rice, lime wedges and chilli ribbons.

Cooking Hints and Tips.

The cooking technique is simple it is cooked low and slow and then reduced.

There is nothing difficult in this process and it is a recipe that even the most novice of cooks can cook without worry.

You do have to be careful at the end of the cooking process though.

Initially, it may seem as though the reduction process will take forever. 

But the final period of reduction happens in the blink of an eye.

If you are not careful you can burn your dinner, just be vigilant, keep stirring and remove from the heat when you are happy with the texture.

Taking the reduction too far will make the beef tough rather than tender.

If you are lucky enough to find fresh Kaffir Lime leaves cut the amount used in half.

Close up portrait of an Indonesian Beef Rendang served on a black plate with rice, lime wedges and chilli ribbons.

Serving Suggestions and Accompaniments.

Personally speaking, I usually serve this recipe with some simply cooked rice.

I find that rice is a great side for spicy recipes, it is a neutral flavour that is great for calming chilli burn if it all gets too much!

But I have heard of it being served with noodle salads and pickled salads. 

Then I demonstrate my true heathen nature. I consider this beef rendang recipe to be a curry and a curry needs beer as far as I am concerned!

Of course, if you struggle with chilli heat then avoid the beer and get a cream or yoghurt based drink. 

Close up tall partial image if a freshly poured beer and a wedge of lime with out of focus beef rendang in the background
Spicy Beef Rendang

Spicy Beef Rendang

Yield: 2 Servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Additional Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 11 hours 15 minutes

Beef rendang is a spicy hot stew or curry type of dish from Indonesia, typified by a hot and sour flavour my version is a closer to a kalio or a 'wet' rendang. This means we get a little more sauce than traditional rendang which is cooked on even longer.


  • 500 g Beef
  • 50 g Ginger
  • 75 g Shallot
  • 2 Lemongrass Stalks
  • 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 4 Hot Red Chilli Peppers
  • 75 ml Water
  • 1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 3 Cardamom Pods
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick
  • 2 Star Anise
  • 2 Dried Red Chillies
  • 1 Tsp Grounds Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Ground Coriander
  • 100 ml Beef Stock
  • 150 ml Coconut Milk
  • 10 Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves
  • 1 Tbsp Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 50 ml Tamarind Paste
  • 1 Lime


  1. Cut the beef into 2.5-3cm cubes.
  2. Take the ginger, shallot, lemongrass, garlic, red chilli peppers and place them in a food processor.
  3. Add the water and blend to a paste, add to the beef stir and allow to marinate overnight.
  4. Pour the oil to a hot heavy-based pan.
  5. Add in the dried chilli, star anise, cinnamon and cardamom and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add the beef followed by the ground cumin and coriander and cook for 5 minutes.
  7. Now add the coconut milk, stock, tamarind paste, brown sugar, kaffir lime leaves and fish sauce.
  8. Stir, add a lid and cook on a low temperature for 2 hours.
  9. Remove the lid and then simmer on for a further hour.
  10. Stir as you go for this last process and keep an eye on the rendang.
  11. You can stop cooking when you are happy with the texture, I like to leave a little sauce.
  12. Serve with lime wedges.


Note we use 4 Hot Red Chilli Peppers, not 4 Red Hot Chilli Peppers, which is entirely different funk altogether!

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 1161 Total Fat: 73g Saturated Fat: 34g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 31g Cholesterol: 218mg Sodium: 1007mg Carbohydrates: 56g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 22g Protein: 75g
Calorific details are provided by a third-party application and are to be used as indicative figures only.

10 thoughts on this Recipe:

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. I love this, I’ve made one in the past but it’s definitely a recipe I need to make again. The only problem is I’d have to make it a bit less hot so my kids would eat it too!

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