This is a very beautiful beef recipe from the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
1 kg (2 lbs) beef topside
4 tablespoons grated fresh coconut or steamed dessicated coconut, roasted in a dry pan until golden brown, then ground finely
3 cups coconut milk (2 cups thick mixed with 1 cup thin)
2 stalks lemon grass, cut into several pieces and bruised
3 cm piece galangal, bruised (optional)
2 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
salt to taste
1 tsp coriander seed, roasted in dry pan and ground finely
2-3 tsp of chilli flakes (more if you like it very hot)
3 cm piece green ginger, finely chopped
3 cm piece fresh turmeric, finely chopped or 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
2-4 cloves garlic, chopped
10 shallots, sliced
Grind all the paste ingredients together, adding a little water if the mixture is dry. Cut the meat into 5 cm cubes, mix with spice paste and leave aside.
Combine the spiced beef and the coconut with the coconut milk in a wok. Add lemon grass, galangal if using it,lime leaves and salt. Bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Cook without a lid until the gravy is almost dry.
Turn the heat down low and cook until the oil comes out of what is left of the gravy. Stirring constantly, let the meat and its spices fry in the oil until the dish is really dry and the meat has turned dark brown but is not burnt. This last "tempering" process is the crucial one for beef rendang - the whole dish depends on the care with which this is done.
This recipe has been adapted from the recipe for Beef Rendang in South East Asian Food by Rosemary Brissenden.