Rendang Opor Pahang

Rendang from My Home Town

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My Rendang isn't Crispy

My Rendang isn't Crispy

By Zaleha Kadir Olpin

Published 2019

  • About

There is no right or wrong way to making this rendang. It is completely up to the individual, or in my case, my husband! Your rendang can have lots of gravy or be as dry as you like. In my home town of Pahang, this is usually served quite dry. It is popularly served at weddings and especially during Eid celebrations. This dish requires a lot of patience as it takes a good few hours to prepare. Don’t be put off by the long list of ingredients. I have organised them to make it easy to follow.


  • 1 kg (2 lb 3 oz) beef
  • 85 ml (2Β½ fl oz / β…“ cup) vegetable oil
  • 750 ml (24 fl oz / 3 cups) coconut milk
  • 2–3 Tbsp tamarind juice
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, white part only, bruised
  • 4 Tbsp thick dark soy sauce
  • 40 g (1β…“ oz) palm sugar
  • 1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 3 Tbsp toasted grated coconut

Opor Powder

  • 20 dried chillies, seeds removed and cut into short lengths
  • 2 Tbsp coriander seeds
  • Β½ tsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 6 cardamom pods, seeds removed
  • Β½ tsp nutmeg powder
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 tsp black peppercorns

Tempering Spices

  • 2 star anise
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 3 cloves
  • 7.5-cm (3-inch) length cinnamon stick

Spice Paste

  • 175 g (6 oz) shallots, peeled
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and cut into quarters
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tsp fermented prawn paste, toasted (optional)
  • 5-cm (2-inch) knob ginger, peeled and sliced
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, white part only, roughly chopped
  • 5 Tbsp dried chilli paste
  • 250 ml (8 fl oz / 1 cup) water


  • Wash, then cut the beef into cubes. Set aside.
  • Prepare the opor powder. Heat a dry pan and toast the ingredients for the opor powder until fragrant. Set aside to cool, then grind to a fine powder using a spice grinder. We will use only half the mixture in this recipe. Store the remainder in an airtight container for use another time. It will keep for up to 3 months.
  • Place the ingredients for the spice paste in a blender and process until fine. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large wok over medium heat. Add the tempering spices and fry until it starts to splutter. Add the spice paste and fry for 5 minutes until slightly dry and fragrant.
  • Add the beef cubes and two-thirds of the coconut milk. Bring to a boil.
  • Mix 4 Tbsp opor powder with the remaining coconut milk and add to the wok. Stir to mix, then bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 1 hour 30 minutes, or until the beef is tender.
  • Add the tamarind juice, lemongrass, thick dark soy sauce, palm sugar, salt and toasted grated coconut. Let it simmer for another 15–30 minutes, until the oil separates and the gravy is thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
  • Serve hot with rice and other dishes.

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