It is worth making a large quantity of this popular Indonesian beef dish because it keeps so well, developing more flavour each day. This recipe will serve a family of four twice over, and is suitable to freeze.






Skill level

Average: 3.2 (426 votes)


  • 1 tbsp tamarind concentrate (block form) (see note) or 2 tsp tamarind purée
  • 2 onions
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 6 long red chillies, seeded, chopped
  • 500 ml (2 cups) coconut cream
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 6 dried daun salam (optional) (see note)
  • 1 stalk lemongrass or 1 strip lemon rind
  • 1 tsp grated fresh galangal
  • 1.5 kg beef chuck, blade or round steak, thinly sliced into strips
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • steamed white rice, to serve

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.


Soaking time 10 minutes

Soak tamarind in 125 ml hot water for 10 minutes. Squeeze to dissolve pulp in the water, then strain, discarding seeds and fibre.

Meanwhile, put the onions, garlic, ginger, chillies and 125 ml of the coconut cream into a food processor and process until smooth. Pour into a large saucepan and add remaining 375 ml coconut cream. Add 1½ tsp salt, turmeric, chilli powder, coriander, daun salam, lemongrass and galangal, stirring to combine. Add the meat and bring to the boil.

Reduce heat to medium, add tamarind liquid and simmer until sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low and continue simmering for about 2½ hours or until sauce is almost dry, stirring frequently to ensure the mixture does not stick to the pan. When the oil starts to separate, add the sugar and stir to dissolve – allow the meat to cook in the oil until it becomes dark brown. Serve with rice, one or two vegetable dishes, sambal and prawn crisps.


• Tamarind concentrate (block form) is available from Asian food shops.
• Daun salam leaves, also known as Indonesian bay leaves, are available from Indonesian food shops.


Photography by Armelle Habib