In the hopes that my exploits in the kitchen would have some sort of cosmic power over the temperature gods (and armed with the foresight knowing that my wishes for fall weather would come through by the end of the week), I made beef stew. Beef rendang, to be more precise.
Rendang is traditionally prepared in Malaysia during festive occasions such as weddings. According to Wikipedia, in 2011 an online poll by 35,000 people held by CNN International chose Rendang as the number one dish of their ‘World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods (Readers’ Pick)’ list. Take that information how you will, but I will agree this is one tasty dish.
I grew up eating curry, and have made and eaten a lot of it. Hey, in retrospect, I feel like half of all the African food that I made was some sort of curry. In any case, I’ve found in my travels, both abroad and in making the restaurant rounds, that every family’s curry and every restaurant’s curry is different. In all the curries I’ve made, this one really stood out from the bunch.
I can’t exactly decipher why exactly- the ingredients are not really all that out of the ordinary from what I’d normally use…maybe the proportions? Maybe the tamarind concentrate that I serendipitously found while wandering around the Asian supermarket. Whatever the reason, this isn’t your typical takeaway curry, and 100% worth giving it a try. I think that, even without the tamarind, it’d still be one of the best curries you’ve ever eaten.
This is what tamarind concentrate looks like. When talking to Mama Buddha she was like “yeah, I use that all the time…Bring me some.” What?!?! Who knew?
Recipe from The Essential Asian Cookbook
- 2 onions, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 5 red chilies, seeded
- 1 TB fresh ginger
- 2 cups coconut milk
- 1 TB oil
- 1 TB cumin
- 1 TB ground coriander
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground cloves
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- 1 large strip lemon rind
- 2 lbs chuck or skirt steak, cubed
- 1 TB lemon juice
- 1 TB brown sugar
- 1 tsp tamarind concentrate
- Cilantro, for garnish
- Rice, for serving
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- Place the onion, garlic, chilies, ginger and 2 TB coconut milk in a food processor and process until a smooth paste is formed. In a bowl, place the beef and thoroughly coat with the paste.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and add the beef, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, cloves, chili powder, lemon rind and stir until the meat is well coated with the spices.
- Add the remaining coconut milk and bring to a boil then simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally for about 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender and the mixture is almost dry.
- When the oil starts to separate from the gravy, add the lemon juice, sugar and tamarind. Stir until heated through. Serve with jasmine rice.
- This is a “dry” curry which doesn’t have tons of liquid. Tastes better when made up ahead.