Nasi lemak with Beef Rendang

One of my all-time, top five Malaysian meals is definitely Nasi Lemak.

Traditionally, to go with your ‘lemak’ coconut rice, you need to have crunchy fried anchovies (ikan bilis), an egg (I prefer mine boiled, sometimes they’re fried sunny side up instead), cucumber and sambal. Optional delicious extras are the proteins – fried chicken or fish, and often Malaysia’s famous Rendang (either beef or the less traditional chicken version).

To go with my home made version of Malaysia’s national dish, I whipped up a cheats version of Rendang using a few simple ingredients. By making a fresh paste as my curry base, I was able to add a fresher flavour to my curry powder based sauce.

Juji’s “fake” Rendang


For the fresh paste

1 large onion, chopped roughly
3 – 4 cloves garlic
A 2 cm piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
5 – 6 dried chilis, soaked in hot water

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor – add a little water to cover, and blend thoroughly until you have a paste. Keep aside until ready to cook.

For the curry

1 kg Beef (I like gravy or shin, but you can also use topside), chopped into large cubes
About 3 tbs ‘meat’ curry powder, mixed into a thin paste with water
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced in half lengthways and into pieces that fit in your pot
5 – 6 Kaffir lime leaves, chopped
1 large can coconut cream
Approx 3/4 cup dessicated coconut, toasted
Dark caramel ‘soy’ sauce
Salt and sugar to taste
Vegetable oil


  1. Place a large stock pot over high heat. Once hot, pour in your fresh paste and fry gently until fragrant.
  2. Add the beef, stir well to coat meat in the paste. Pour in your curry powder mixed with water, and add the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves. Cover with water. I tied my lemongrass up with cooking twine – I hate searching for it once the Rendang is done!
  3. Bring to a boil, and then turn down to a gentle simmer.
  4. Simmer for at least an hour, so that the beef softens and the flavours permeate the meat.
  5. Once you’re happy with the tenderness of the beef, check the flavour – add a slurp of the thick caramel sauce, this gives the Rendang it’s typical dark colour. I usually add a little sugar and some salt at this point.
  6. Turn up the heat and reduce the sauce – this should take about 30 minutes.
  7. Add the coconut cream, and simmer for a further 30 minutes. Check seasonings again.
  8. Add the toasted coconut, and stir well to ensure it is distributed through the curry.
  9. Once you’re happy with the consistency, turn off the heat, and serve – great with coconut rice or with regular plain rice!


For anyone out there who isn’t a beef fan (Hello, Conor!) you can also make this recipe with chicken or even with kangaroo (my Mum has made curry with roo quite a few times!)




4 thoughts on “Nasi lemak with Beef Rendang

    1. jujichews Post author

      You’re welcome :)

      I find it also works well with vanilla pods, thyme stalks and anything else you need to remove that has a tendency to get lost in the pot.

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