This pungent meat dish or often referred to as a dry curry, is everyone’s favourite dish all over the world. Voted as the number one dish of CNN’s “World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods” in an online poll taken by 35,000 people in 2011. So, I decided to share my gluten free version of this much loved beef rendang.
Beef rendang was invented by the native Minangkabau tribe from the uplands of West Sumatra in Indonesia. They brought this flavoursome dish to the Malay Peninsula when they migrated there as voyagers and wholesalers. The most distinctive food of the Minangkabau traditions, dished up during the festive seasons such as during customary ceremonies, for wedding banquets and Malay new year (Hari Raya), as well as to privileged guests. Beef rendang is similarly served amongst the Malay society in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and the Philippines.
Most notable is the cooking method whereby beef is gently slow cooked with coconut milk and a spice paste of chillies, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, ginger, garlic, onion and turmeric, then left to simmer for a few hours to produce this tender, delicate and savoury dish.
This cooking method thrived due to its function of preserving meat in a hot and humid tropical climate before the invention of refrigerator. This approach of cooking allowed preservation of large amount of meat. The spice paste mixture used in beef rendang have antimicrobial properties that serves as natural preservatives. I normally like to cook more and freeze some as beef rendang keeps really well and gets more aromatic overtime.
- 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1.2 kg gravy beef or chuck steak cut into roughly 3cm to 4cm cubes
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- 2 star anise
- 2 tablespoons tamarind puree 114g Ayam or tamarind paste
- 1 cup desiccated coconut
- 270 ml gluten free coconut milk
- 270 ml gluten free light coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons gluten free light soy sauce or salt to taste
- 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 1-2 sprigs of coriander including stems roughly chopped
- Steamed rice to serve
For the Spice Paste:
- 3 Garlic cloves
- 1 small brown onion cut into wedges
- 2 long fresh red chillies deseeded and cut into 3cm pieces
- 8 to 10 small dried red chillies deseeded
- 5 kaffir lime leaves stems removed and leaves finely sliced
- 3 cm piece fresh galangal peeled and finely sliced
- 3 cm piece fresh ginger peeled and finely sliced
- 2 cm piece fresh turmeric peeled and finely sliced or 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 stems lemon grass white part only, finely sliced
- 2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
- 2 teaspoon ground cumin seeds
- 2 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
- 2 teaspoon ground cardamom pods
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Add the ingredients for the spice paste into a food processor and blend until you get a smooth paste. Alternatively, you can use a mortar and pestle if preferred.
- Heat up a frying pan and toast the desiccated coconut on low heat, stirring the coconut frequently until consistently browned and toasted. Set aside.
- Heat up a wok with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, add the spice paste, cloves, star anise and cinnamon stick, and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until aromatic on medium heat.
- Add the beef pieces and stir-fry for another 5 minutes or until the beef is no longer pink on medium to high heat. Then add the tamarind puree, coconut milk, gluten free light soy sauce and dark brown sugar and stir and mix well. Bring to a boil, then simmer uncovered on low to medium heat for about 1 hour or until the liquid is just covering the meat. Stir occasionally to ensure its not sticking at the base.
- Cover the wok with lid and simmer on low heat for another 10 to 15 minutes or until meat is soft and tender. Making sure to stir frequently to avoid sticking at the base as the sauce will become dryer and increasingly darken in colour. Add the toasted desiccated coconut from step 2 and stir and mix well into the sauce. Turn off the heat.
- Garnish with coriander and serve with steamed jasmine rice or basmati rice.