RECIPE OF THE WEEK | Balinese Beef Rendang – Rendang Sapi

In keeping with Hindu dietary restrictions, beef is seldom served in a Balinese household. That doesn’t mean it’s forbidden though! Meat in Bali, is always cooked with a pile of fresh spices that tenderize, preserve, uplift and nurture. It’s also about aiding digestion and a dash of tamarind, a few sprightly gingers and lemongrass will always help that process.


This recipe is a Balinese version of rendang and spotlights the acclaimed trio of galangal, turmeric and ginger, that constantly feature in Indonesian cooking. It has all the virtues of a slow-cooked stew; comforting, full of flavour, tender and deeply aromatic. It is also a joy to cook as 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
  • 2 tablespoons turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons chopped ginger
  • 6 candlenuts, dry-roasted in a wok
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon cummin
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 2 lemongrass stalks, bruised and tied in knots
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 3 salam leaves
  • 500 ml coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 500 g beef topside, in curry-size chunks
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind pulp, mixed with a 1⁄4 cup water and strained
  • 2 tablespoons grated palm sugar
  • 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 and salam leaves 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 the sliced beef, 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. Serves 4

You can discover more recipes in my book Bali: Food of My Island Home

RECIPE OF THE WEEK | Black-rice pudding – Bubur injin

Black rice pudding is one of Bali’s most famous desserts that, once upon a time, used to feature on the breakfast menu of most simple guesthouses around the island. Traditionally served as an in-between snack, it’s glossy blackness and almost chocolatey flavour makes it both intriguing and alluring. Mornings or afternoons, you can usually find black rice pudding on sale at simple food stalls at local markets, along with other syrupy porridge-like treats. These comforting dishes are the domain of mothers and grandmas who are the experts of all that is “sugar and spice and everything nice.”


My sister-in-law, Karsi, taught me how to make Black rice pudding and walked me through the subtleties of achieving the perfect flavour and consistency. She liked to serve it mixed with tiny pieces of ripe jackfruit. I love it best served with sliced bananas on top. In Bali, a little white rice is cooked with the black rice to create a more interesting texture, a little softness to contrast with the chewiness of the black grain. And the final layer of smoky, roasted coconut adds another divine element.

  • 1/2 cup black glutinous rice
  • 2 tablespoons glutinous white rice or regular white rice 1 pandan leaf (1 tsp pandan essence)
  • 1 vanilla pod, split or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 200 g palm sugar, grated

ROASTED COCONUT MILK 500–750 ml coconut milk pinch of sea salt

Soak the black rice in a bowl of water for a minimum of 6 hours. Stir in the white rice and leave for another 2 hours.

Tip the rice and water into a large heavy-based saucepan and add extra water to cover the rice by 10 cm. Add the pandan leaf, vanilla pod and salt and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook uncovered until most of the water has evaporated and the rice is soft enough to eat, with a texture like soft brown rice. This should take at least 1 hour, and you might need to top up the water during cooking. When the rice is cooked, stir

in the palm sugar and continue to simmer over low heat until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is thick and glossy. Check the flavour.

To serve, spoon the rice into bowls and top with the coconut milk, fruit and toasted coconut. Or serve it with coconut panna cotta.

Serves 4–6