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Beef Rendang

Taken from The One Pot Cook by Hattie Ellis published by Head of Zeus, price £20.00

This Indonesian dish comes together in classic One Pot style, the flavours combining and complementing each other to make a satisfying whole.  Beef rending is one of Hattie's favourite all time curries: coconut rich and deeply savoury.  The recipe originated as a means of preserving meat and this is why the curry is served as a dryish dollop, more as a tasty seasoning to rice than a sauce. Hattie learnt this particular short cut method – it normally takes 8 hours – at a course run by Fran, a French woman who picked up cooking tips from her East Asian in-laws and now teaches them in East London (www.lapancooking.com).

Serves 6-8


Curry Paste:


  1.        Put the beef in a medium large pot and cover with water. Cover with a lid, bring to the boil, then turn down the heat and simmer uncovered for 2 hours.
  2.        Meanwhile make the curry paste. Put all the ingredients into a small blender and whizz to get a smooth, aromatic paste.
  3.        Drain the beef, reserving the stock. (You may or may not need this for the dish. If not, it is deliciously savoury and worth saving for a soup or sauce.) Wash the pan and put it back on a low heat.  Add the spice paste and cook for 7 minutes or so, stirring to stop it burning.
  4.        Add the meat and the whole spices – the cardamom, coriander seeds, cumin seeds & cinnamon. Season with 1tbsp flaky sea salt (it takes about 1 ½ tbsp in total, but add the salt in 2 stages as the curry reduces down considerably). Fry for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the spices smell toasty.
  5.        Add the coconut milk, lime leaves, sugar & tamarind.  The meat should be just covered with liquid – if not, add some of your beefy stock.  Simmer, uncovered, until the chunks of meat are breaking apart and the sauce has reduced down – about 45 minutes. Stir from time to time to stop it catching on the bottom of the pot.
  6.        Meanwhile toast the coconut in a dry frying pan over a low heat.  Stir occasionally for the first couple of minutes, and then stir more or less constantly once the coconut begins to brown. Once it is all a nutty colour – but not so dark it is bitter-burnt – take it off the heat and leave to one side.
  7.        When the beef is soft, stir in the toasted coconut. Simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring often, until it has reduced down slightly.  It’ll look like a mush rather than having chunks of meat.  Taste and add more salt if necessary. I sometimes add a squeeze of lime juice at the end to get a bit more of a tart-sweet balance.
  8.        Serve with rice and salads. This is an intense curry and you need just a small dollop on each plate.


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