How to Make Malaysian Beef Rendang

An Indonesian meal that has gained popularity in Malaysia, the Rendang is curry at its best. Seen as the king of all curries, this dish is delicious with highly amazing flavors. 

Beef Rendang is a dry curry and doesn’t use a load of sauce. One thing that makes the curry special is the tenderness of the meat, which allows it to mix easily with rice or whatever you have it with.

If you love curry and are yet to try Beef Rendang, keep reading! In this article, we’ll teach you how to make a delicious serving of the Malaysian Beef Rendang. 

What is Rendang?

Rendang is a Malaysian curry with fresh and complex flavors that combines galangal, star anise, ginger, and garlic with beef. You can also make rendang with chicken or lamb and the delicacy is popularly served with plain or coconut rice, bread, or noodles. 

Ingredients in Rendang

Beef Rendang is a simple meal and you can conveniently get the necessary ingredients in an Asian market.

While you can substitute some components, cooking with authentic ingredients will allow you to experience genuine rendang flavors. 

Here are some of the key ingredients.


Beef is the key ingredient in Beef Rendang. You can opt for boneless beef or short ribs, although boned or stew beef achieves better flavors. 

Cut the beef into small cubes, but the pieces shouldn’t be too small. 

You can substitute beef with chicken or lamb, or even try a vegetarian version, although you won’t get the same flavor.


The kerisik is a toasted or roasted desiccated coconut. Find one without sugar or preservatives. Alternatively, you can make it yourself by tossing grated coconut in a wok. 


The galangal is called lengkuas in Malaysia, and it’s not the same as ginger. 1 tsp paste of galangal is all you need.

If you aren’t able to get your hands on galangal, it’s fine to use ginger and some black pepper, although this won’t give you the same taste.

Chili Pepper

Rendang is traditionally spicy, but you can always use a milder red chili. You can use 8 to 12 dried chilis. 

Turmeric Leaves 

Turmeric leaves may be the hardest ingredient to source, but having some in your meal will create a defining citrusy and grassy aroma. 

If you’re unable to get any turmeric leaves, 4 to 5 large kaffir lime leaves are worthy substitutes.  


Add the ingredients to a blender in the order of galangal, kerisik, turmeric leaves, and chili pepper. Next, add some medium-sized shallots.

Blend until you achieve a fine mix. 


  • 5 tbsp cooking oil
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 lemon grass (cut and pounded)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2-3 cardamom pops
  • 2 tbsp tamarind pulp or 1 tbsp tamarind paste
  • Star anise
  • Cloves

How To Make Malaysian Beef Rendang

Here are the steps to making your Malaysian Beef Rendang.

  1. Heat oil in a pan.
  2. Pour in the sauce paste and allow it to simmer for a minute.
  3. Add star anise, cinnamon, cloves, garlic, and cardamom. 
  4. Add the lemongrass and beef and stir thoroughly to combine the ingredients. 
  5. Pour in the coconut juice, tamarind pulp, and water.
  6. Cover and turn the heat to medium or low heat. 
  7. Continue to stir as you cook until the meat becomes soft. 
  8. Add sugar or salt to taste. 
  9. Lower the heat, cover the lid tightly, and cook your sauce for 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the gravy has dried up. 
  10. Once the beef separates from the oil, turn the heat off. Mix the oil and beef to get the Rendang’s brown color.
  11. Add more salt and sugar to taste.
  12. Serve with your preferred carbs (rice). 

Traditionally, rendang is kept for some time until the flavor matures. You can keep some leftovers in your fridge and enjoy the intensified flavors later. 

How To Serve Rendang

Rendang is a rich and dry creamy curry you can enjoy with various dishes. You can:

  • Serve it with plain steamed rice.
  • Serve it with flatbreads. 
  • Eat it with traditional pilau rice, or nasi minyak, as it’s called in Malaysia.
  • Enjoy it with roti jala.
  • Try it with pineapple salsa.
  • Serve it with lemang — a traditional glutinous rice cooked in banana leaf-lined bamboo poles.

Beef Rendang is a satisfying meal that, when cooked just right, can leave meat that’s wonderfully tender and juicy to eat. Each beef strand in the Beef Rendang is coated in a rich sauce that can leave you wanting seconds.

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