I love curry. I've had more curries than you've had hot cat food dinners, which is at least 12. And on a recent trip to Malaysia I had the honour of attending the excellent Lazat cookery school for three days to learn how to cook amazing curries of all flavours and colours.
On returning to the UK I realised I had not learned one of the most famous dishes of Malaysia, the incredible Beef Rendang so I asked Ana and Laty from the school if they could send over their internationally acclaimed, totes legit recipe, which they very kindly did!
Before we dive in, I have to say sourcing some of these ingredients was tough, but if you look hard enough, maybe go to a few Malaysian restaurants and ask the chef nicely, you should be able to get most things.
*Left to right, top to bottom
First Row : Spice Paste (¼ cup), Galangal (1cm), Lemon Grass (1), Oil (3 tbsp)
Second Row: Coconut Milk (200ml), Water (300ml), Beef - I suggest something like shin - (150g),
Third Row: Kerisik - crushed, caramelised coconut - (1tbsp), Kaffir Lime Leaf (1), Salt (¾ tsp) + Palm Sugar (½ tsp) + Asam Keping (Small piece), Turmeric Leaf.
For the spice paste
6 dried chillies, cut, de-seeded and boil
1 stalk lemongrass, sliced finely
6 shallots, peeled and halved
2 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
5 g ginger, sliced
3 g fresh turmeric, sliced1-2 bird's eye chillies
I started by frying the galangal and a stalk of lemon grass in some hot oil; you only need to do this for a few seconds. Then I added the spice paste:
This is where it gets a bit technical, as Ana says "Malaysian food is all about being slow, you can't rush it". So keep frying the spice paste until it gets to the point where you're thinking "oh god, I'm sure it will start burning now". This takes about 5-7 minutes on a medium heat.
Next, I added beef and water to the pan and left to cook while I tackled the issue of the Kerisik (crushed, caramelised coconut).
And this is where I did something really stupid. You see, I was making all this in my professional chef friend's kitchen and she didn't have a hammer to crack the coconut I bought and was all like "oh my god I'm so hungover" (all chefs usually are). So I figured I would put the thing in an oven for an hour at 150c to get it to crack.
Which didn't really work. In fact, what I ended up doing was creating a high pressure grenade containing super heated sugary liquid. I know this because I thew it onto the concrete outside and it blasted its contents over a 4 meter radius. But at least I got the little guy open!
Next, I grated and dry roasted the coconut flesh until it was caramelised; this took about 20 minutes on a low to medium heat.
And I ground this to form a paste in a pestal and mortar.
By this point my beef shin had softened wonderfully so I added the coconut milk, salt, palm sugar, asam keping (or 1tsp tamarind), and sliced turmeric leaves and cooked until the gravy splits (you'll see oil seep out). This takes about 20 minutes.
The final step was to add the Kerisik and lime leaves and stir for a further 2-3 minutes. I served my curry with coconut rice and a nice salad (apple, cucumber, cauliflower, honey and lime juice dressing):
Annnnnnnnnd how does it taste?
I'm not going to lie, it's bloody incredible. The curry has such a deep earthy richness and the Kerisik gives it this awesome nutty flavour that you don't get in restaurant versions. I reckon if you cooked this for your friends they would think you've turned into a pro or got a chef to do it for you, or maybe sold your soul to a curry wielding devil.
If you want to give this recipe a bash, my advice is to follow the instructions to the letter; I know some of the stuff is hard to get hold of (Asam Keping, turmeric and lime leaves were impossible to find in truthfulness) but it is SO worth it. And you can tell me all about your exploits when you do so on Twitter.
And if you happen to visit Malaysia, Lazat run cookery courses from their school in central Kuala Lumpur for £56 per day including all transport to and from your youth hostel/hotel.
Images copyright Lazat Cookery School, Myfoodeeblog.com