Rendang Daging

Rendang Daging

Thailand can keep its green curry; in Malaysia and Indonesia,
rendang daging – dry beef curry with roasted coconut and
lime leaves in reduced coconut milk – rules the roost.

Rendang daging was created by the Minangkabau people of West Sumatra, and its ingredients and preparation are said to be a metaphor for the philosophy of musyawarah – consultation with elders – that binds Minangkabau society together. The meat is taken to represent the tribal elders, coconut milk represents teachers, poets and writers, chilli represents the guidance of Islam and the spice mix represents the ordinary population, unified by mutual discussion.

You’ll need
50g (2oz) ground coconut

Spice Paste
6 shallots, peeled
2.5cm (1in) piece of galangal,
2.5cm (1in) piece of ginger,
3 stalks of lemongrass,
4–5 cloves of garlic, peeled
10 dried chillies, soaked in
warm water and seeded

1 tbs oil
1 cinnamon stick
4 cloves
4 star anise
3 cardamom pods
750g (1½lb) lean beef, cut into
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into
pieces and crushed
1 cup (250mL) coconut milk
2 tsp tamarind juice
1 cup (250mL) water
6 tbs kerisik
1 tbs palm sugar
6 kaffir lime leaves, finely
Salt to taste
Rice to serve

Cooking Method
1 To make the kerisik, toast the ground coconut in a dry pan until it turns light brown, then blend in a spice mill or mortar and pestle to produce a thick, oily paste.
2 For the spice paste, grind the shallots and other spice ingredients in a blender or mortar and pestle to create a fine paste.
3 For the curry, heat the oil in a pan and add the spice paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and cardamom and fry for a minute or so to release the aromas.
4 Add the beef and crushed lemongrass and stir-fry until the meat is browned.
5 Add the coconut milk, tamarind juice and water and simmer until the meat is almost cooked.
6 Add the kerisik, palm sugar, kaffir lime leaves and salt to taste, then cover the pan and cook on low heat for 1–1½ hours, until the meat is tender and the liquid has almost all been absorbed.
7 Leave overnight to mature the flavours, then warm and serve with rice.

Tasting notes
The slow, labour-intensive preparation of rending daging gives this dense, dry curry remarkable properties of preservation – the dish takes half a day to prepare, but can safely be stored for days at room temperature, even in tropical heat. The first surprise when tasting rending is how different it is to Thai or Indian curries. The use of roasted coconut gives it a rich, smoky quality more common in Mexican cooking. And while there’s plenty of chilli, in rendang the heat plays a supporting role, allowing the aromatic herbs and spices – lemongrass, lime leaves, garlic, galangal and ginger – to shine through. Eat it with steamed rice parcels and a big mug of teh tarik (Malay ‘pulled’ tea).

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