Food is about love, about family (related or not), about community. No Indo event goes without food, no Sunday afternoon visits to family or friends goes without eating. The first question, after you've been greeted at the front door, back door or garden path is "Would you like something to eat?" And if you don't want, or don't have time to eat, you'll go home with a care package.

I have fond memories of an Indonesian family, friends of my father, that lived across town. We didn't interact very often, on account of me being busy with studying and eh....researching the Nijmegen nightlife, so to speak. On the occasions that I visited, their grandmother would immediately get up from her chair and go into the kitchen to cook, regardless of the time of day. If they had a particular kind of food they knew I liked, they'd call me to ask if I wanted some, and they would bring over a plate. Sometimes I would find a grocery sack hanging from the door knob with dinner, other times with a piece of spekkoek. At the time, as a young student and away from home, it made me feel welcome, loved and a part of something bigger than just my own little world. Nowadays, I find myself doing the same thing: sharing my food, showing love.

Braised meats, tender stews, marinated satays.....all foods that require attention and dedication. Rendang, today's dish, is one of those foods. With an intriguing variety of flavors, rendang takes time to prepare and mandates close attention towards the end, but the end results is very much worth the effort. It's Indo love on a plate.

2 lbs beef chuck roast
4 shallots
1 lemongrass
4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger, fresh
2 tablespoons of oil
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
1 lemon grass
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons tamarind paste
4 kaffir lime leaves
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Remove the fat from the beef and cut it into one inch cubes. Blend the shallots, the lemon grass (the tender white part), the garlic and the fresh ginger into a paste. If the paste gets too thick, add a tablespoon of oil.

Heat a skillet and add two tablespoons of oil. When hot, quickly sear the meat on all sides. Remove it from the pan and set aside. Reheat the skillet, add another tablespoon of oil, stir in the paste and toss in the cinnamon stick, the star anise, a piece of lemon grass that has been pounded so it will release its flavor and fragrance. Stir on high heat until the paste thickens and starts releasing its smells, and then add the seared beef. Lower the heat and add the coconut milk, water and tamarind paste (you may need to dissolve the paste in the warm water). Stir to make sure everything is mixed well, and simmer.

After half an hour, stir in the kaffir lime leaves and the brown sugar, cover the pan and simmer slowly. The goal is to braise the beef to the point where it is very tender, and at the same time to reduce the liquid in the sauce so that it practically clings to the beef instead of swimming in it. You achieve this by moving the lid partially off the pan or crockpot after an hour, and letting the liquid slowly evaporate.


  1. Rendang is one of my favorites.
    I don't make it too often b/c well i can't eat just a little bit.
    Delicious. Anyone reading this post and not sure about if they want to try it or not...the answer is YES!!!!!

  2. i've to re-read your recipes for about 3-4 times...

    Being an Indonesian married to a Dutchman and living in Indonesia, I was baffled. You don't put chillies in the rendang???

    Chilli is what brings out the taste, but then again most Indonesian dishes will ask for chillies. Not good for those who are allergic to it like my husband.

  3. Nicole, ik zou er wat om geven om nog eens een keer naar een Pasar Malam toe te kunnen. Maar goed, we doen het maar met Rendang, rijst, Sajoer Lodeh, Kroepoek en wat andere lekkernijen. Ik ga dit lekker maken vandaag. Beetje studeren, beetje breien, beetje koken. Mijn zaterdag kan niet meer kapot...ondanks alle sneeuw hier in Iowa.

    En! ik kan niet wachten dat ik de tuin weer in kan. Schorsenieren, witlof, paarse brusselse spruiten, wortels, kolen, prei, aardappelen, tomaten, sla, aubergine, kruiden en nog veel meer staan klaar om gezaaid, gepoot en geplant te worden.


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