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