Beef Rendang

Inline_Rendang 2Rich in spices and slow-cooked in coconut milk, Indonesian Beef Rendang has a lot in common with beef curries from other countries. You get healthy fat from the coconut milk, plus spice and herb based antioxidants in every bite. Not to mention unbelievable flavor. These are not shy ingredients: rendang is all about making a big, bold statement.

Imagine hot chile peppers, shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, lemongrass, cloves and cinnamon—tamed only slightly by sweet, creamy coconut milk. The beef is braised in this intense fusion of flavors long enough to soak up all of the sauce. Rendang isn’t going to win any beauty contests, but when food tastes this good, who cares what it looks like?

Servings: 4 to 6

Time in the Kitchen: 2 hours (45 minutes prep time)



  • 3 Thai or other hot chile peppers, chopped
  • 4 shallots, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 2-inch piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced (5 cm)
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh galangal, peeled and thinly sliced (5 cm)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric (1.2)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (30 ml)
  • 2 pounds boneless beef chuck, seasoned with salt, cut into 2-inch/5cm pieces, or 2 pounds short ribs (900g)
  • 1 13.5 fl oz unsweetened full-fat canned coconut milk (400ml)
  • 6 kaffir lime leaves
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (trimmed on the top and bottom), smashed or twisted to break open
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (5 ml)
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes (45 g)
  • Galangal and fresh kaffir lime leaves can be found in some Asian and Indian markets or well-stocked grocery stores. They can also be bought online. Extra kaffir lime leaves can be frozen and used for other recipes.

If fresh galangal can’t be found, dried (not powdered) can be used. For this recipe, soak 1 tablespoon dried galangal in hot water for 20 minutes until pliable. Chop as finely as possible with a knife before adding to the food processor with the other ingredients


cooking meat

In a food processor, pulse the chiles, shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal and turmeric until a coarse paste forms. If needed, add 1 tablespoon water to help a paste form.

In a wide skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat, warm the coconut oil. Add the spice paste, stirring constantly until the spice mixture is warm and fragrant but doesn’t begin to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the meat, stirring well to completely coat in the spice paste.

Add the coconut milk, lime leaves, lemongrass, cinnamon stick, cloves and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer the meat, uncovered, for 1 ½ hours. Stir frequently to make sure the coconut milk is not scorching to the bottom of the pot. (If using short ribs, pull the meat from the bone halfway through the cooking process and cut the short-ribs into 2-inch pieces so the meat is better covered by the coconut milk.)

While the meat is cooking, toast the coconut flakes in a dry skillet for a minute or two until lightly browned. Let cool. Grind the coconut flakes in a food processor or chop with a knife until fine. Set aside.

When the sauce is almost completely absorbed by the meat, and the meat is very tender, discard the cinnamon stick, lime leaves and lemongrass. Mix the coconut flakes in with the beef before serving.

Rendang 1

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12 thoughts on “Beef Rendang”

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  1. Thanks for the recipe, Worker Bee. I seem to be sensitive to something in coconut and don’t use it in any form. Maybe heavy cream would be an okay substitute. It wouldn’t be the same flavor, of course, but you can’t go too wrong with all those great spices. Does anybody else have problems with coconut, or maybe just doesn’t like it?

  2. I appreciate the recipe ideas but I’m not that adventuresome. 2 hours time, 15 ingredients, advance work tracking down something called galangal and fresh kaffir lime leaves. I’d rather just sear a good steak and have gustatory bliss in less than 10 minutes with much easier kitchen cleanup.

    1. Once you’ve been on primal/paleo for a few months you get SO TIRED of steaks lol 🙂 Its not sustainable to eat the same boring stuff over and over 🙂 Gotta have some variation!! (And beef rendang is well worth the little effort it takes to cook it. Just take the time you’d otherwise spend in front of the TV/computer 😉 )

      1. I don’t mind feeding my body the same thing over and over and over again. I’m nourishing it, giving it the fuel it needs to function. Taste and variation no longer matter to me. As long as it’s within the macros to keep me alive, that’s what matters.

        1. Hi Beth,
          Where or how does one determine macronutrients?? I have about 75 lbs to lose and have been ketogenic for 2.5 months with less than 5% carbs. I want something that is concrete and yet simple enough to manuever ! I dont like the keto calculator. Ty so much and congrats on your success!

        2. That’s so sad! This is sitting on my stove right now and I am drooling!!

    2. FYI in case it helps: “galangal” is just a type of ginger found in many asian markets.

  3. This dish looks like it’s right up my alley! Going to have to make some tweaks since I don’t think I have access to galangal or kaffirlime leaves. Excited to try it nonetheless!

  4. I have a healthy meal prep business in the NYC/NJ area and only do entrees that follow the Primal Blueprint guidelines. Literally going to make this dish tomorrow and add it to the menu. Looks amazing.

  5. I made this yesterday. It was absolutely amazingly good! Such depth of different flavours, all blended together to create an absolutely spectacular meal. I will make this again, and again, and again … Thanks, Mark!

  6. Hi Mark, I’m so keen to try this, do I have to use galangal in this recipe as it’s hard to get in my area
    Regards Tracey