This is a Balinese version of rendang that is quite simple to make, with a basic spice paste featuring the acclaimed trio of galangal, turmeric and ginger that commonly appears in Indonesian cooking. It has all the virtues of a slow-cooked stew; tender, comforting and full of flavour. The aroma that floats around the house, while the curry is simmering in the pot, is glorious.
8 red shallots, roughly chopped
8 garlic cloves
6 long red chillies, seeded and roughly chopped
4 tablespoons chopped galangal
1 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
6 candlenuts, dry-roasted in a wok
½ teaspoon cummin
3 tablespoons oil
2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and tied in knots
3 kaffir lime leaves
3 salam leaves
2 star anise
500 ml coconut milk
1 cup water
500 g beef topside, sliced in fat, curry-size chunks
1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, mixed with a ¼ cup water and strained
2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
salt to taste
fried shallots to garnish
Pound the spice paste ingredients to a smooth paste in a mortar, or blitz in a food processor with a little water if necessary to get the mixture moving. Heat the oil in a wok over medium heat and fry the spice paste for 30 seconds. Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, salam leaves and star anise and toss around for another 30 seconds, until glossy and fragrant. Pour in the coconut milk and water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and continue cooking for another minute, then add beef chunks, tamarind and palm sugar. Simmer for 2 hours, until the meat is tender and the sauce is thick and reduced.
Serve with steamed rice, topped with fried shallots.