Lamb Rendang

Updated: Feb 4


The secret to making a good Rendang is time and a mortar and pestle. What makes this Indonesian/Malaysian curry so special is a good slow cook giving the curry the chance to absorb all those natural fragrant oils from the curry paste. Unlike usual south East Asian curry's, Rendang, is a dry curry where all of the curry is reduced right down to the point where it has split and caramelised. Rendang has to be one of my favourite curry's to make and eat and let's get straight into it!

Total Cook Time 3 hours / Prep Time 25-30 minutes

To serve 4-5


Lamb and key ingredients:

850g lamb shoulder (approx)

2 lemongrass

2 cinnamon sticks

3 kafir lime leaves

2 tbsp palm sugar

10g tamarind pulp or 30ml tamarind concentrate

400ml coconut milk

20g desiccated coconut

1-2 tbsp kecap manis (optional)

2 limes

salt to season

Curry paste:

3 small shallots

3 long red chillies

8-10 dried red chillies

10g galangal or ginger

5g fresh turmeric or 1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander


Curry paste:

  1. Let's begin by making up the rendang curry paste, ideally to extract all of the essential oils within the aromatics its best to use a mortar and pestle, however, feel free to use a food processor to save time and to add a little oil to mimic the aromatic oils from pounding. Start by roughly slicing 3 shallots, 3 long red chillies, 8-10 hydrated red chillies, 10g galangal or ginger and 5g of fresh turmeric. When sliced add to a mortar and pestle along with 2 tsp of cumin and 1 tsp of ground coriander. Begin to pound the aromats until a paste is formed. This usually take approximately 10-15 minutes to form a rough paste (the paste doesn't have to be super fine). When ready place the curry paste to one side.


2. Now that we have our curry paste its time to move onto the lamb. For this recipe I used a deboned lamb shoulder, however, lamb neck or lamb leg would work also. Slice the lamb into relatively large bite sized pieces removing off any excess fat. We want to keep the lamb fairly large in size as the lamb will have a slow cook and the size of the lamb will shrink during the cooking process. When the lamb is sliced place onto a tray then briefly marinade by adding 1/4 of the curry paste made previously. Mix well and allow to marinade until ready to cook.

3. Just before we begin to cook the curry we need to prepare a few key components that will make the rendang. Add 20g of desiccated coconut to a dry pan and toast on a medium heat until golden. Next shave 2 tbsps worth of palm sugar and to make a tamarind stock add 10g of tamarind pulp to hot water and dilute.

4. Now to cook the rendang, what really makes a good rendang is a slow cook with lots of love as we want to slowly extract all of those natural oils and flavours into the curry. Place a large deep pan onto a medium heat then add approximately 3 heaped tbsps of the curry paste made earlier. Stir-fry the curry paste for 8-10 minutes until fragrant.

5. When fragrant, now add 3 kafir lime leaves, 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 bruised lemongrass and 2 tbsp of palm sugar. Mix well and continue to sir fry the curry paste for a further 2 minutes.

6. Now add all of the marinated sliced lamb to the curry paste and mix well to coat the lamb in the curry paste. When coated add 20g of the toasted desiccated coconut, and all of the tamarind stock made earlier and bring the liquid up to a boil.

7. Finally we now want to add 400mls of coconut milk and an optional 1-2 tbsp of kecap manis to the curry. Bring the liquid up to a boil then turn the curry down to a low simmer. Slowly cook the curry at this point for a solid 1 hr 30 mins whilst stirring frequently.

8. After 1 hr 30 mins of slowing simmering the curry at this point it should have significantly reduced, become darker in colour and also just started to split. Turn the heat up slightly onto a medium to low heat then continue to cook out the curry for a further 30 minutes. As rendang is a dry curry we are literally looking for all of the liquid to completely reduce and for all of the oils to caramelise.