Making this delicious Indonesian classic, Beef Rendang, in the instant pot is a breeze. Beef chunks flavored with freshly made spice paste are cooked until tender in the pressure cooker then simmered in coconut milk resulting in a caramelized, rich and tasty meat dish! Seriously, the best beef curry ever – Beef Rendang.
About a couple of years ago when I was in the process of making my cookbook Rice. Noodles. Yum. (Everyone’s Favorite Southeast Asian Dishes), I got the chance to travel around Southeast Asia. I traveled primarily to research authentic recipes to include in our cookbook and learn how to make it. It was such a wonderful and memorable trip. Not only did my tummy get filled with so many delicious dishes while I was there, but it was also such a joy to meet so many lovely people who went out of their way to help me write the book by sharing their recipes unselfishly and teaching me how to make them for everyone to enjoy. What an unbelievable experience it was and I do pray I get to revisit them all someday.
One of the countries I visited was Indonesia. In particular, I went to Bali. Yes, that Bali. This was the last leg of my Southeast Asian trip so I brought my sweet sister Eunice with me so we could celebrate after all the hard work and have a little R&R by the beach. If you want to see our album on our trip to Bali, check it out here.
Naturally, I made sure to try as many yummy dishes I could while I was visiting Bali. I didn’t limit myself to just rice and noodle dishes even though that’s what I came there for. I had to have some delicious Beef Rendang because I had been craving this dish even before we visited Indonesia. Thankfully, my cooking class teacher recommended a good warung place to visit while we were there. A warung, by the way, is the Indonesian term for a cafe or restaurant, usually small and family-owned. You won’t miss them in Bali as they’re all over the place. My sister and I were not disappointed as we truly enjoyed the food and even the beef rendang was pretty good.
Memories of that wonderful trip made me crave beef rendang again. However, I didn’t fancy waiting for hours just to get my hands on tasty rendang so I decided to make an instant pot version so I could enjoy my favorite beef curry dish in a much shorter time and without a lot of fuss. I know I already have a very good basic recipe for beef rendang and it’s received so many wonderful reviews both on this blog and on Pinterest so I didn’t have to make so many adjustments save for adapting it for the pressure cooker.
I have made this beef rendang in the instant pot twice already and I am truly happy with the results. I am so delighted with how it came out that from now on, this is how I’d make beef rendang it as it’s so much easier and I need only one pot to make everything!
The secret for this tasty rendang is the secret spice paste that I’m sharing with you all today. Ideally, it would be best if you could get the actual ingredients required to make the paste, like the galangal plus the lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves so you get to taste the authentic and deliciously complex flavors of beef rendang. But, if you cannot, because not everyone has a nearby Asian store, fret not because I have added what substitute you can use and how to tweak it so you can still achieve a yummy beef dish. Either way, it would be delicious!
Another suggestion I would add is to use a mortar and pestle to make the paste. I know, there’ll be some elbow grease required with that but it’s worth it for the flavors that would be achieved by doing so. To shorten the process, simply cut up the ingredients in small chunks beforehand so it’s not too difficult to pound them into a paste. All chefs and cooks I learned from during my southeast Asian trip told me not to do a shortcut when it comes to making a spice paste (whether for beef rendang or curry laksa or any other dish that requires a fresh spice paste) because it is the pounding and grinding in the mortar and pestle that bring out the flavors from the aromatics and spices because the grinding process allows the release of their natural oils which, in turn, means the release of more flavor from the paste. Trust me, this is true based on my experience, too.
Definitely enjoy this dish with rice! Let me know if you’ve tried it. Thanks! Again, if you don’t have an instant pot you can try my stovetop version here.
Easy Instant Pot Beef Rendang
Making this delicious Indonesian classic Beef Rendang in the instant pot is a breeze. Beef chunks flavored with freshly made spice paste are cooked until tender in the pressure cooker then simmered in coconut milk resulting in a caramelized, rich and tasty meat dish! Seriously, the best beef curry ever – Beef Rendang.
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 onions or 5-6 small shallots, peeled
- 1 inch piece fresh galangal peeled
- 1/2 tsp red chili flakes or 1-2 Thai (finger) red chilis, seeded
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin or curry powder
- 2 tbsp oil
- 3 stalks lemongrass (use only the lower whitish portion) bruised or lightly smashed
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled then lightly smashed
- 4 kaffir lime leaves (or bay leaves), or to taste
- 2.2 lbs (1 kilo) stewing beef (like chuck), sliced into 1.5-2 inch chunks and seasoned lightly with salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/5 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 14 oz can coconut milk
- 1-2 tsp fish sauce or soy sauce, as needed
- lime or lemon juice, as needed
In a food processor or mortar and pestle, grind the garlic, onions or shallots, galangal (or extra ginger) and chili to a smooth paste. Add the ground coriander and cumin and mix well. Set aside.
Choose the saute setting in the instant pot. Heat the oil and briefly saute the lemon grass, ginger and kaffir lime leaves until aromatic. Add the spice paste and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until it darkens in color and begins to bubble as it releases some oil.
Add the beef and coat with the spices. Add the water and sugar and mix everything well to deglaze the pan and remove the brown bits at the bottom. Turn off the sauté mode and cover the pot, putting the valve in the sealed position. Put in manual high pressure for 30 minutes. Allow a natural release for 15 minutes.
Uncover then pour in the coconut milk. Saute and cook, stirring occasionally so beef doesn't stick to the bottom, for 15 minutes or until the sauce has browned or caramelized in color and has thickened (the dish would release some oil at this point, too). Taste and adjust seasoning with a little fish sauce (yum!) or soy sauce. Add a little squeeze of lemon or lime juice as well, if desired, especially if kaffir lime leaves are replaced with bay leaves. You can leave a little bit of sauce to drizzle on your rice or allow the beef to fully dry up and fry in its own oil, it's your choice. Serve with rice or crusty bread.
If you cannot find galangal (may be bought fresh or frozen at Asian stores), simply double the ginger. Galangal is citrusy in flavor and aroma so it's different from ginger but the latter may be substituted, if needed or desired.
If you cannot find kaffir lime leaves (available at Asian stores) you may replace with bay leaves. To add some lemony notes to the dish (if you don't have the galangal and kaffir lime leaves which give beef rendang its characteristic citrusy flavor) simply add a squeeze of lime or lemon juice at the end of cooking.