Malaysian lamb rendang

This is a super-easy dish to make ahead of time, and you can read a book while it cooks! It’s also perfect when you have guests over, because you don’t need to watch it closely. 

The ingredients in this recipe are basic herbs and spices that you probably already have in your cupboard/fridge, like cinnamon sticks, ground coriander, cumin, and turmeric, or your freezer, like kaffir leaves, lemongrass, chili, and ginger, which are all freezer-friendly. 
Use slow-cooking meat such as beef brisket or bone-in chicken pieces. Almost all the ingredients I used in this recipe were either frozen or dried. How convenient is that?
I prefer a combination of 50% vegetable stock and 50% coconut cream for the sauce, which makes the consistency perfect for dipping and not too heavy. This dish is absolutely kid-friendly, as it is not spicy but still packed with flavour.


  • 2 lamb shanks (about 900 g), with all visible fat removed, seasoned with salt and black pepper 
  • 1 cinnamon stick (about 3″) 
  • 5-6 fresh kaffir lime leaves
  • 250 ml vegetable stock
  • 250 ml coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce 
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut, dry toasted on a non-stick pan over low heat
  • salt 

Curry part A

  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric

Curry part B

  • 2 large onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 x 5 cm pieces ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 lemon grass stalk, lightly bruised and roughly chopped
  • 1 long red chili and 1 bird’s eye chili, deseeded and sliced, plus extra for garnish

Recipe Preparation

Heat 2 tbsp vegetable oil in large skillet, then sear lamb shanks, one at a time, until golden brown all over. Set aside.
In food processor, blend all ingredients from curry part A until it forms a smooth paste. Add ingredients from curry part B into the blender and process until well combined.
Use same pan/wok you used to sear the lamb, retaining the oil and any brown bits. Add cinnamon stick and kaffir leaves and fry until fragrant (about 1 minute). Then add curry paste, shrimp paste and fish sauce, stirring continuously. Turn heat down to medium if it gets too hot. Then add lamb shanks, using a big spoon to ladle sauce over shanks. Turn the shanks a few times with tongs to make sure they are completely coated.
Add toasted coconut, brown sugar, stock, and coconut cream and stir to combine. Add potatoes and bring to a boil. Turn heat off. Transfer lamb shanks into a slow cooker, then potatoes, then sauce. Cook for 4 hours or until lamb shanks are fork-tender.
Serve with naan, roti or over steamed rice.

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