“Intensely flavourful and rich, this traditional Malay beef rendang is a classic favourite during Eid, when Muslims in Singapore break their fast with a feast. Rendang is a dry curry that originated among the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra and later spread throughout Indonesia, Malaysia and into Singapore.” Adam Liaw, Destination Flavour Singapore






Skill level

Average: 3.8 (172 votes)


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil or coconut oil
  • 500 g chuck steak, cut into 4 cm cubes
  • 4 cm piece galangal, peeled
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, bruised
  • 1 fresh turmeric leaf, knotted (see Note)
  • 4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • steamed rice, to serve

Spice paste

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp star anise
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 6 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 3 large red Asian shallots, coarsely chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 cm piece ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cm piece galangal, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 cm piece fresh turmeric, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, coarsely chopped
  • 5 fresh red chillies, seeds and membrane removed
  • 6 candlenuts, lightly toasted (see Note)
  • 1 tbsp chilli paste

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


To make the spice paste, place the whole spices in a large frying pan and shake over medium heat for 1-2 minutes or until they start to pop and release their aroma. Allow the spices to cool a little, then finely grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder. Place the ground spices and all the remaining spice ingredients in a blender and process until a smooth paste forms, adding a little water if necessary to help blend it.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the spice paste and cook, stirring continuously, for at least 15 minutes or until the mixture has reduced right down to a thick paste. Add the beef, galangal, lemongrass, turmeric leaf and kaffir lime leaves, and stir to combine well.

Gradually add the coconut milk, stirring until well combined. Reduce the heat to as low as possible, cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour. Stir in the tamarind, sugar and salt, and cook for another 1-2 hours or until the beef is very tender and sauce is slightly dry and oily. Serve with steamed rice.



• Turmeric leaves are large light green leaves which add a distinctive yet subtle flavor when used for wrapping or adding to curries. When added to wet dishes, the leaf is first knotted to help extract the flavour, then removed and discarded before eating. Available fresh or frozen from Asian grocers.

• Named so because of their high oil content, candlenuts impart a creaminess and thickness to curries. These nuts must be cooked before using as they are toxic when eaten raw.


Image by Adam Liaw. 


Destination Flavour Singapore airs Thursdays at 8pm on SBS. Visit the program page for more details, recipes and guides.