Sashi Cheliah’s Beef Rendang


Serves 4

10 shallots, peeled
30g fresh galangal, peeled
30g fresh ginger, peeled
15g fresh turmeric, peeled
6 cloves garlic, peeled
2 stalks lemongrass, white parts only
1 cup grated fresh coconut
200ml vegetable oil
4 tablespoon dried chili paste
1 cinnamon stick
3 star anise
3 whole cloves
5 cardamom pods
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
25g palm sugar
800g beef, cut into chunks
200ml coconut milk
200ml water
5 fresh kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped

To make the curry paste, blend shallots, galangal, ginger, turmeric, garlic and lemongrass into a smooth paste.
Toast the grated coconut.
Heat oil in a large pan and add blended curry paste and dried chili paste. Cook until fragrant.
Add to the pan the toasted coconut, cinnamon, star anise, cloves, cardamom, cumin and palm sugar.
Add beef and cook for 5 mins.
Add coconut milk and water, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook the rendang at low heat for 2 hours.
Add the kaffir limes leaves before removing from heat.
Serve with coconut rice or roti jala
(a coconut and turmeric crepe).

This dish needs to be cooked over a low heat for a,ong period until the liquid evaoporates and the gravy thickens.

Sashi says…
Growing up in a Hindu family in Singapore, my mother and aunty would always cook Chicken Rendang for me and our family. I love rendang because it is so easy to share with the family and it’s full of flavour – everyone loves it, especially the kids. This dish reminds me of home and will always be special to me because it was my signature dish for the MasterChef audition. The judges loved it and that’s when my food journey really began.
In Singapore, Malaysia and other parts of South-East Asia, people enjoy rendang for lunch or dinner at cafes, hawker centres and coffee shops. It’s a traditional dish and there are many different ways of cooking it, depending on where you are in the world.
My take on Beef Rendang has more gravy than other rendangs because I love mopping up the sauce with rice or roti. This dish was also one of the most popular items at my pop-up restaurant, Gaja by Sashi at HWKR Food Centre in Melbourne last year. The response to Gaja was incredible – I loved seeing people enjoying my food and interacting with fans of the show.
My experience on MasterChef was out of this world. I gained so much knowledge, not only about Asian food, but also other cuisines from around the world. After the show, I realised that I wanted to introduce more people to the authentic South-East Asian flavours from back home. My home town is all about vibrant flavours, and my approach to Gaja and this recipe really celebrates authentic home-style cooking to let the flavours shine.

» Sashi Cheliah is the winner of MasterChef 2018.

» Photo by Freddie Tse Tow

» This article was first published in Ed#579.