Rating: 4.5 stars
15 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 11
  • 4 star values: 3
  • 3 star values: 0
  • 2 star values: 1
  • 1 star values: 0

The sauce in this amazing Indonesian curry might be invisible, but you'll know it's there. As it reduces, the water evaporates, leaving behind the fat and flavor that make this dish so unique and addictive. Originally, cooking meat this way helped preserve it in hot and humid Indonesia. Turns out, people continued making it long after refrigeration came around. Serve with steamed rice, garnished with cilantro and lime if desired.

Recipe Summary

4 hrs 5 mins
4 hrs 30 mins
25 mins
8 servings


Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist


Instructions Checklist
  • Cut beef chuck into 2-inch pieces.

  • Combine shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal, serrano and Fresno chiles, salt, red pepper flakes, coriander, turmeric, cardamom, and nutmeg in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until paste is very finely ground, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides with a spatula.

  • Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the curry paste. Cook and stir until it starts to dry out, then stir in the beef. Add coconut milk, tamarind paste, and brown sugar. Stir to combine. Fill up the empty can of coconut milk with water and pour it into the pan. Increase heat to medium-high; bring to a simmer.

  • In the meantime, bruise lemongrass with the back of your knife. Cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces and add to the curry. Reduce heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until beef is fork-tender and sauce is fully reduced, about 4 hours. Stir more frequently as water reduces; add more water or lower the heat if sauce is reducing faster than beef is softening.

  • Remove lemongrass to serve. For best results, let cool and serve the next day.

Chef's Notes:

Feel free to use a fattier cut like beef shank or short rib in this.

Substitute red onion for the shallots and ginger for the galangal if desired. If you don't have tamarind paste, use zest from a lime and lemon, plus juice from 1 lime.

If you do want some sauce to serve with it, simply add more water during the cooking, or cover for part of the time. If you cook this the day before, as recommended, you'll want to add a big splash of water when you reheat it. Cover until heated through, then uncover, crank the heat, and cook until it's as dry as you like.

Nutrition Facts

380 calories; protein 18.5g; carbohydrates 10.4g; fat 30.1g; cholesterol 64.5mg; sodium 60.9mg. Full Nutrition