Beef Rendang Padang Recipe: CNN’s 2011 Most Delicious Food in the World

This traditional dish that is originated from the Minangkabau region, Indonesia’s Sumatra, won polling with more than 35 thousands respondent conducted by CNN in 2011 as the most delicious food in the world. Culinary experts often describe rendang as: ‘West Sumatran caramelized beef curry’.

The name “rendang” comes from randang, rooted from marandang, which means a process of cooking coconut milk based side dish until the water evaporate. Basically, there are two types of rendang: wet rendang and dried rendang. Dried rendang is brown-black coloured while wet rendang is red-brown or brown coloured.

Rendang is rich in spices. The spices:  garlic, shallot, ginger and galangal used in rendang have antimicrobial properties and serve as natural organic preservatives. If cooked properly, dry rendang can last for as long as four weeks.

Interested in giving it a try? Here’s the recipe for you:

  • 1 kilogram of beef shank or chuck (use secondary cut), cut into 2 inch by 2 inch cubes
  • 2 liter water
  • 3-5 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 300 ml thick coconut milk
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 4 lemon grass, bruised the white part
  • 2 inch galangal, peeled and bruised
  • 2 star anise

To marinate the beef:
  • 3 asam kandis (can be substituted with 15 gram tamarind), soaked in 150 ml warm water
  • 30 gram palm sugar

Grind the following into spice paste:
  • 30 shallots
  • 10 cloves garlic
  • 100 gram red chilies
  • 10 candlenuts
  • 2 inches ginger
  • 2 inches turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds/powder
  • 1 tablespoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon salt

  1. Marinate the beef with tamarind water and palm sugar. Let it sit for minimum 30 minutes.
  2. Add cooking oil to a heavy bottomed pot and heat over medium low heat until shimmering. Add the spice paste; fry, stir constantly until fragrant and most of the moisture have evaporated. Add kaffir lime leaves, bay leaves, lemon grass, galangal, and star anise. Stir well.
  3. Add coconut milk, water, the beef (also the excess tamarind water) and let it cook in low heat for 3-4 hours until the meat is very tender. Stir the mixture constantly to prevent it from burning. You may want to adjust the taste a little.
  4. Once the liquid has thickened, the oil from coconut milk already split and the beef looks a bit dark, it means your rendang is ready.
  5. Serve it over steamed rice with green sambal, and boiled cassava leaves.

  1. Beware because rendang can be quite spicy depending on the heat of the chilies you use.
  2. Mindful of taking this dish since rendang is high in cholesterol.

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