beef and tomato rendang


one of my new year’s resolutions was to cook a broader range of international dishes. curries were top of my mind a few weeks ago when i was sorting through the mound of recipes that i have cut out of newspapers and magazines, downloaded or scribbled on scraps of paper.

i pulled out several to try but it was a couple of recipes for rendang that jumped out at me. rendang is a curry that originated in indonesia but is also popular in malaysia and singapore. the combination of coconut milk with tamarind paste, the sour fruit pulp that adds an interesting layer of flavour, was too appealing to resist.

i made this curry a few days before we ate it and i’d suggest you do the same as this really allows the flavours to meld. the flavour is rich with the different spices but lightened by the acidic tang that the tamarind adds.

beef and tomato rendang (serves 4)

2 onions, peeled

1 clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

800 ml coconut milk

500g rump steak, cubed

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

2 cloves

1 stick cinnamon

5 cardamon pods

1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cumin

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

½ teaspoon chilli powder

½ teaspoon methi (aka fenugreek)

2 tablespoons desiccated coconut, dry fried until it becomes golden

4 tomatoes, chopped


2 tablespoons tamarind paste

20 cherry tomatoes, halved

coriander to garnish

finely slice one of the onions. chop the other and blitz it in a blender with the garlic and ginger to make a paste. add a couple of tablespoons of the coconut milk and mix together with the paste. put the beef in a bowl and add the paste, mixing so the meat is coated. leave to marinade.

heat the oil and add the sliced onion, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom, stirring regularly until the onion softens and starts to colour. add the meat and puree and fry until the meat browns. add the spices, desiccated coconut, chopped tomatoes and the remaining coconut milk plus a teaspoon of salt. bring to the boil, turn the heat down and leave to simmer, uncovered for c1 hour, until the meat is tender.*

add the tamarind and cherry tomatoes and simmer for another 10 minutes. garnish with coriander (as you can see from the photo, i didn't have any in!) and serve with rice.

* if you are making the curry in advance this is the stage you stop at.