James Osland’s Beef Rendang

This is a slightly modified version — with my own cooking notes incorporated into the recipe — of James Oseland’s Beef Rendang recipe shared on Saveur from his book Cradle of Flavor (W.W. Norton, 2006).

Ingredients, assembled


  • 3 tbsp cooking oil such as safflower oil
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1 whole nutmeg, crushed into a few pieces using a mortar and pestle
  • 6 red Thai hot chiles, stemmed and coarsely sliced
  • 6 shallots, cut in half and then into small chunks
  • 5 macadamia nuts, cut in halves
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in halves
  • 3/4 to 1 oz (approx 2″ piece) fresh turmeric, peeled cut into small chunks
  • 3/4 to 1 oz (approx 2″ piece) ginger, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 3/4 to 1 oz (approx 2″ piece) galangal, peeled cut into small chunks
  • 2 lb. boneless beef chuck cut into 2″ pieces
  • 7 fresh or frozen Kaffir lime leaves, plus 4 leaves very thinly sliced for garnish
    • Note: there is no substitute for Kaffir lime leaves. They have a sweet lime smell and function similar to bay leaves. If you cannot find them, skip altogether.
  • 3 lemongrass stalks, top end trimmed and coarse outer layer removed, then lightly smashed with a mallet and tied into knots
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • One 13.5 oz can Chaokoh coconut milk, with water to bring total yield to 2.5 cups
    • Chaokoh is a very thick coconut milk, so instead of two cans I used just one 13.5 oz. It is slightly less than 2 full cups. I scraped all the coconut milk out of the can and then rinsed with a bit of water to get the rest out and reach a 2-1/2 cup yield.
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt to start, then more to taste
  • 1 tbsp Bob’s Red Mill coconut palm sugar


  1. Pulse cloves and nutmeg in a spice grinder for 20-30 seconds.
    • I use an old $20 Krups coffee grinder that’s been re-purposed for spices. Clean by grinding a small handful of white rice between each use, wipe clean.
  2. To a food processer, add the ground spices, chiles, shallots, nuts, garlic, turmeric, ginger, and galangal. Process until a smooth paste forms, about 2 minutes total, scraping the sides of the bowl every 20 seconds or so.
  3. Set a dutch oven with the cooking oil over medium heat. Add the beef chunks and the paste from the food processer. Stir to distribute the paste and turn the beef over.
  4. Add 7 whole lime leaves, lemongrass knots, cinnamon sticks, coconut milk, and salt. Stir and bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, about 1-1/2 hours. If the coconut milk is reducing too quickly, cover.
  6. After 1-1/2 hours, remove the lid if you had used it, and continue to cook for another 2-1/2 hours, stirring frequently to prevent burning, adding the lid back if reducing too quickly, until sauce and beef turn a dark caramel color and the sauce coats the beef.
  7. With 45 minutes left, prepare Jasmine or Basmati rice in a rice cooker. Add 1 tbsp palm sugar to the curry and stir.
  8. When ready to serve, remove & discard the lime leaves, lemongrass, and cinnamon sticks.
  9. Serve with rice and top with very thinly sliced lime leaves.

Process Photos

Clockwise from Thai Chiles: Turmeric, Ginger, Galangal, Garlic, Macadamia Nuts, Scallions
Rendang paste: so orange from the turmeric, smells incredible
Beef with rendang paste, lime leaves and lemongrass
With coconut milk, start of long simmer
After first 1-1/2 hours of simmering
Final result

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