The Indonesian palette of flavours is intriguingly unique.
Lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves are hugely fragrant and give the beef a brave feminine dimension. It is so important that the beef becomes tender and utterly penetrable to these iconic spicings.
First, make the Rendang paste. Toast the coconut flakes in a dry frying pan until browned, then remove them from the heat. Roughly chop 1 lemongrass stalk. Blitz together the toasted coconut, onions, ginger, galangal, chopped lemongrass, garlic, chillies and turmeric to a smooth paste.
Now heat a wok and add the oil. Fry the spice paste over a high heat for about 3–5 minutes. Add the cardamom and cinnamon stick. Cook for a minute over a medium heat. Now add the beef and fry it over a medium-high heat until the pieces are browned, stirring constantly.
Add the coconut milk, kaffir lime leaves and lime zest and juice and simmer very gently so that the pan is barely bubbling. Bruise the remaining lemongrass and add it to the pan. Season with salt and partially cover. Cook over a low heat for 1 hour. The meat needs to be very tender but not disintegrated. Discard the lemongrass stalk.
Add the rice and raise the heat a little to medium-low. Simmer for a further 20–25 minutes or until the rice is cooked through. Switch off the heat and put a lid on the pan. Leave to rest and for the flavours to combine for 15 minutes before serving.
To serve, transfer to a large dish, and sprinkle with the deep-fried shallots and the coriander/cilantro.
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