Memories of my childhood always conjure images of my mother and her family’s cooking.
My parents are originally from Indonesia and one of my favourite Indonesian dishes is Beef Rendang or Rendang Daging which is a “dry” beef curry.
Essentially a rendang is an intensely fragrant beef curry, cooked slowly over a low flame and the liquid reduced to the point where the sauce is thick and shiny, not thin and watery – hence why it’s called a “dry” curry.
In my mother’s family this dish is an absolute staple and graces some family dinner tables up to 3 times a week.
My aunty still cooks rendang every week in bulk amounts (up to 2kgs at a time) and then freezes the leftovers to reheat and serve later in the week.
The curry does actually improve upon standing. I always find it tastes best the next day.
The dish does take some time to make, requires close attention and it contains a number of different ingredients. I’ve included photographs with this recipe for reference.
It takes about 60 – 90 minutes to cook on the stove.
This is hardly something quick to whip up at the last minute.
The results however are well worth it.
You’ll notice in the beginning that the curry “broth” starts off quite watery and yellow from the turmeric but as the water evaporates and the sauce thickens it turns into a rich dark brown.
The beef should be tender and the sauce thick with pools of oil settling on the surface when the cooking is complete.
I’ve tried to simplify the original recipe a bit by substituting some ingredients that are difficult to find with those that are commonly found in your local supermarket.
Most rendang recipes call for fresh galangal as part of the spice paste.
I have substituted fresh galangal with more ginger because galangal can be difficult to find in some supermarkets.
Galangal in general has a fresher flavour but in this dish I don’t really miss it when I substitute it with ginger.
I have previously tried using dried galangal slices only to find that even after hours of soaking in hot water the pieces remain tough and woody despite blitzing them in a food processor before cooking.
You wind up with little chunks of dried galangal in each mouthful of curry which messes up the texture and the taste.
Fresh ginger can be found in the vegetable aisle of your supermarket or in a pinch you can used minced ginger found in jars in the spice aisle.
Everyone has their own version of a rendang recipe and the ingredients and flavours vary from province to province and from family to family.
This recipe always evokes special memories of my childhood for me and the smell of it boiling on the stove wafts through the house and fills it with warmth.
This is my family’s recipe from their region of Sumatra; Beef Rendang – Padang style.