Beef Rendang is an extravagant dish from Indonesia (West Sumatra) but is also served in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and southern Philippines. It’s easy to make but requires patience because it must cook slowly in order for the flavors to fully develop. It can be made in a slow cooker though that’s not recommended because the dish won’t develop the depth of flavor or rich color from the caramelization that you'll get from stovetop cooking. In 2011, Beef Rendang was listed among the world’s 50 most delicious foods. It's a dry curry, so it won't be exceptionally saucy.
1Place Spice Paste ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until fine and thoroughly blended.
2Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large, heavy stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add Spice Paste, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and cardamon pods. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant, being careful not to burn the spice paste.
3Increase heat to high. Add beef and sear, stirring to sear all sides of each piece of beef until they are dark brown (the deep color from the sear will contribute to the color of the curry). Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then immediately reduce heat to low or medium low, so the sauce is bubbling very gently. Place lid on the pot and let it to simmer for 1½ to 2 hours.
4Remove lid and check the beef to see how tender it is. You don't want it to be "fall apart at a touch" at this stage. If it is, remove the beef from the pot before proceeding.
5Increase heat to medium and let sauce simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, to reduce it to a thick sauce that coats the beef cubes. Watch carefully at this stage because you don't want the sauce to burn. (It's a dry curry so it won't be excessively saucy; instead, the concentrated flavor of the curry should be more like a thick paste that coats the beef cubes.)
6By this stage, the beef should be "fall apart at a touch" tender. Remove from heat, and serve immediately.