Updated: May 2, 2019
This one is one of my favourite things to make in the colder months - and there is a labour of love that goes into it, but it is very much worth it!
We all know that a good curry is always better the next day - as the flavours will have time to settle in, but just try and wait the extra day, when the house smells so amazing! This version has a nice kick of spice in it, but go ahead and adjust to your liking either way - I would say this is mild but my tolerance is pretty high, so leave some out, or add more in - if you feel like giving it a nudge!
In order to get a smooth spice paste, you will need to have a good food processor or Thermomix, and really get the spice mix blended to a smooth paste - it really makes a difference - and worth the time.
1 kg diced Beef - short-ribs(bone off), chuck, or brisket are all good - get the best that you can afford
1/3 Cup good quality oil
1 Cinnamon stick
3 cloves or 1/2 tsp cloves powder
3 star anise, 3 Cardamom pods ( green ones)
1 stalk of lemongrass ( about 4 inches long) pound/bruise it with the back of your knife to release the flavour into the dish - but you want to keep it whole.
500ml Good quality Coconut cream - I like the Kara brand ( Use Coconut milk for a lighter version)
1 1/2 Cup of Water
1 Tbsp Tamarind pulp
6-8 Kaffir lime leaves - sliced super fine ( chiffonade style)
Zest from 1/2 kaffir lime
1/2 Cup of Toasted Coconut (Kerisik)
1 Tbsp Palm sugar, Salt to taste
Spice Paste ingredients:
5 red shallots
Galangal - about an inch - peeled and roughly chopped
Ginger - about an inch - peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic - about 6 cloves
1 inch piece of fresh Turmeric - peeled and roughly chopped
3 white ends of lemongrass stalks - washed and roughly chopped
12 dry red chillies ( Kashmiri Chillies will give the most intense flavour and colour)- soaked in hot water (reserve the soaking water and use to loosen the paste up when blending it) - deseed if you don't want the heat from them - and for a smoother paste - or leave in if you like it!
The key to the best dark rendang, is to cook out the paste until you get a rich dark colour - I am still guilty of not leaving it long enough, and ending up with a blonder looking curry - and even though blondes have more fun - you definitely want a dark rendang, so keep it going until you get it well caramelised!
Make the spice paste by blitzing all spice paste ingredients into a food processor/Thermomix, until it is smooth and fine in consistency. This part is critical, and you will need to stop/start and scrape down the bowl a bit, but it will be worth the trouble! Set Aside.
Heat oil in a heavy bottom casserole dish and add in the spice paste and cook it down as much as possible - this part will determine the dark colour and intensify the flavour! The longer you cook and caramelise this, the richer the colour and flavour will be! Once happy, you can skim off any of the oil that rises and then add in the other aromatics - cinnamon, cloves, star anise and cardamom and stir fry until aromatic - just a few minutes more.
Add in the chopped Beef (no searing required), and the bashed lemongrass, then stir for a few minutes, and start to cook it down.
Add the coconut cream, tamarind and water, and stir on a low to medium heat, until the meat appears to be cooked ( it will be tough so don't even think about eating it yet!)
Stir in the Lime leaves, Palm sugar and toasted coconut, then slow the heat right down to low, put the lid on and simmer for about 2 hours. Ideally, you want the gravy to be mostly absorbed, and the meat to breakdown and be tender so that it falls apart. Leave on longer if you need to, then remove from heat and let cool, or eat a bowl with some roti and rice - to quality control check it, and then wait until tomorrow as it will be doubly as good then!
If you wanted to use a slow cooker, you can definitely do that - I have cooked slow for about 4-6 hours - then reduce on a stove top for the last 30 minutes to get it thicker/drier and less soupy like. Also - you can shred the meat, and make it into pies, empanadas or savoury steamed buns - let your imagination run wild!
I have made this recipe a few times now, and I find that the flavours are pretty bang on - the colour will vary - depending on the toasted coconut - some people say once it is toasted, that you should motor and pestle it into a paste - which will give you a greater flavour -so what is one more step along the way right? Otherwise, you can find it already pre made for you at Asian grocery stores - just look in the Coconut cream aisle, and they should have options there for you!
This freezes really well for leftovers or meal prepping, and you will probably make it a few times in the winter - just to make sure it really was that good! Hope you enjoy - One of my Malaysian friends gave me some pointers with this, and a bit of trial and error. Also, I usually just throw a handful of ingredients in, so have tried to measure it out as best I can for you - but feel free to share, and adapt as you like.