Rendang… Oh, rendang…

This dish comes from West Sumatra region, from creative mind of Minang tribe people. It said, long ago, that rendang was dish served only for king and queens.. Then it became popular trough out Indonesia as Minang people transmigrate to other region. Nowadays, you can get rendang in every “Padang restaurant”. This is must try if you come to Indonesia. Or if you don’t have plan visiting us anytime soon and want to try rendang, you’re welcome to cook it yourself.

If you google picture of “rendang”, there’ll be a lot of difference in color, one could be dark and almost black, other can be more orange-red, brown, or yellowish. That’s normal. The difference appears because we can’t cook exactly the same way. The longer it cook, the darker the color. The true authentic rendang is cook up to 8 or 9 hours over wood fire, frequently stirred, until it’s dark and dry..Who have 9 hours to cook? What will I eat while I cook??

The reason people did this long time ago because they have no refrigerator and freezer back then. The way they cook rendang makes it able to store up to two months. It’s necessary when they want to embark on long voyage such as Hajj.

However, not so dark, brown rendang already taste amaaaaziiing.. And it’s only took about 2 to 2.5 hours to cook. I know it’s super long, especially for super busy modern people like us. But, you can do like I did every time I cook rendang. I cooked big batch in one go, divide it to four packaging and freeze them. Rendang freezes very well. Then, you simply thaw and warm it up on the day you want to eat rendang again.

Spices for rendang: turmeric, nutmeg, shallot, candlenut, galangal, garlic, ginger, keffir lime leaves, chili, lemongrass (coriander and cumin are left out from the pic.. oops)


You’ll need beef, cut it not too big, and not to small, maybe slightly bigger than chicken nugget. You’ll also need spices like picture above, and coconut milk. For every 1.5 kg of beef, you’ll need 2 liters of coconut milk. If using store bought coconut milk, use about 500 ml plus 1500 ml water.

First, peel and wash all spices. Toast the turmeric, ginger, candlenut, coriander, and cumin. Toast just for a while to waken up the aroma. Then, blend the toasted spices with shallot, garlic, chili, nutmeg, and galangal, plus some oil.

In wok, bring to boil the coconut milk with keffir lime leaves and lemon grass. In this stage, stir the coconut milk frequently. When boiled, add the blended spices. Let it boil while stirring one in a while. The coconut milk will start to exude oil. This is the cue to put in the beef and put the stove flame to low.

And then wait… and wait..

Check the rendang every half an hour and stir to make sure it not burnt in the bottom.

On picture above, I cooked 3 kg of beef. The picture on the left is after rendang has been cooked for one hour; in the middle, almost two hours; and on the right is two and half hours. I add salt and little bit of sugar when I took the middle picture. This way I can corrected the taste and the finished product won’t be too salty.

I almost burnt my rendang! I watch TV for a while and forget to check and stir. Hehe… Apparently when the stew is thicken like in the middle picture, it dries even faster and I should have watch it more frequently.

After so much effort, super delicious beef rendang is ready!

It turned out delicious, as expected. When I cooked it, it was the day after “Eid al-Adha”. For those who don’t know, Eid al-Adha is a muslim holiday. The one that able, gives goat or lamb, or cow, or camel, to be “sacrificed”. The meat is given to people in need, relatives, neighbor, and family. Unfortunately, this year my family only the receiver and not among the ones who gives. Next year!

Anyway, in Indonesia, we have rice cake that goes very well with rendang, or curry, or satay. My mother bought some this rice cakes (or ketupat in Bahasa). We ate the rendang with the ketupat. You can also eat the rendang with rice, obviously.

Rendang with ketupat

The leftover, I freeze for later.. Let me tell you, rendang is worth the effort.

If I haven’t convince you, and you still thinks, OMG so complicated.. worry not. In this modern day, you can get rendang spices mix. Brand that sometime I use and taste quite good (although not as good as this recipe. Hoho..) are Bamboe and Indofood rendang spices mix. They come with instruction, so easy peasy.

Beef Rendang (Indonesian Beef Stew)

Beef Rendang (Indonesian Beef Stew)


  • 1.5 kg beef
  • 2 liter of coconut milk (500 ml thick coconut milk + 1500 ml water)
  • 2 stem lemongrass
  • 4 keffir lime leaves
  • 4 pcs candlenut
  • 100 gr red chili
  • 2 cm galangal
  • 2 cm ginger, toasted
  • 3 cm turmeric, toasted
  • 1/2 tbsp coriander seed, toasted
  • 1 tsp cumin, toasted
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg, grated
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • cooking oil


  1. Cut the beef
  2. Blend together candlenut, chili, galangal, ginger, turmeric. coriander, cumin, and nutmeg with oil
  3. In a wok, bring coconut milk to boil with lemongrass and keffir lime leaves
  4. Add the blended spices to boiling coconut milk
  5. Let it boil and stir frequently until the coconut milk looks oily
  6. Add the beef and brig the heat to low
  7. Cook until the coconut milk reduced and the meat tenderized. It'll take around two hours. Stir frequently to make sure it doesn't burn in the bottom of the wok.