On Writing, Tech, and Other Loquacities

The collected works of Lana Brindley: writer, speaker, blogger

Lamb Rendang

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I’ve been reading the The Pioneer Woman Cooks for a little while now, and I am terrifically inspired by her photographic journeys through her recipes. So, today, when someone asked me for my Lamb Rendang recipe, I decided to try a Pioneer Woman-style rendition. My photography isn’t a patch on hers, but I’m hoping you’ll recognise this for what it is – a poor imitation. Anyway, here it is, please enjoy, and let me know what you think!


Chop the onion into wedges. A large brown onion works best, as the flavour is a bit sweeter and easier to take in large chunks.


Dice up some lamb. I prefer to use backstrap as it’s lean and easy to cut up, but I have also used a lamb leg in the past with a lot of success (it’s just more time consuming to get the meat off the bones). You can cut this into any size pieces you like, just remember that large pieces will take longer to get to that really good falling-apart stage, so if you’re in a hurry, keep it small.


Dice up some potatoes into the same (or slightly smaller) size pieces as the lamb.


And now for the fun part!


Put the tagine over a moderate heat, and drop in a slurp of olive oil. This may depend on your tagine. If your tagine can’t be heated too much, then use a frying pan for the next few steps, and transfer it to the tagine when it comes time to simmer everything. If you don’t have a tagine, sucked in! Oh. I mean, you can do the whole thing in a saucepan over a very low heat, as long as you stir it a lot during the process. It won’t get the same level of tenderness, but it will still be good (well, as good as you’ll get. Run down to House and buy a tagine. You won’t regret it!)


Chop up some coriander (fresh is best, but dried leaves will do in a pinch) straight into the oil.


Here’s what you’ll need from the spice drawer – minced garlic (I’m too lazy to chop up garlic, but if you’re keen, then you’ll need about two or three cloves, pressed and then finely chopped); turmeric; garam masala; chilli powder (a deseeded and finely sliced red banana chilli would work even better, but I didn’t have one this time around).


Drop a good amount of each into the oil with the coriander, and then add the onion wedges.


Stir it around until it starts to smell fantastic, and the onion is just starting to cook on the edges.


This is the Rendang paste I use (is it cheating to admit to this?!). It’s the “Home Asian Gourmet” brand and it is available from the Asian Food aisle in Woolworth’s. It is not stocked by Foodworks in Bungendore. So if you ever come to visit me out here from somewhere civilised, be sure to bring a packet or two.


Add in the curry paste and stir it all around. Smelling good? Yes, I think it is …


Transfer the onion and the herbs and spices into a bowl.


Without cleaning out the tagine, start browning the lamb in small batches. Again, this depends on being able to get your tagine quite warm – the lower the temperature, the smaller your batches will need to be.


Sizzle, sizzle. The lamb should be picking up some of the colour from the turmeric still in the pan. Don’t overbrown it, just make sure it has a bit of a tan.


Stash the lamb batches in the bowl with the onion while you work on cooking the rest of it (Why does this picture look like it was taken in a freezer? I assure you, it was sitting on my kitchen bench. Honest.)


Dump it all back into the tagine and stir it all around to get the curry paste all over the lamb.

Now you can add the potatoes in, and get them all coated in curry goodness too. I do this in two distinct steps, because otherwise it’s just too much to stir in and you end with an unholy mess. Well, I do, anyway.

If you’ve done the last few steps in a frying pan, now is the time to pour it all into your tagine. Everything from now on needs to be done on the lowest possible heat setting you have.


Now, as tempting as it may be, do not add any water. Or stock. Or anything else. Just put the lid on, turn the dial down as low as it goes, and walk away. Or, you can stay and admire my beautiful mismatched Emile Henry tagine on my amazingly modern stovetop! Or not. Fine.


Make yourself a cup of tea and go and sit down for 20 minutes or so.


Then come back to find …


Magic juice! No not really (sorry to disappoint you there). It’s because we only very lightly browned the lamb, so the liquid from it has drained out into the dish. We’re going to cook this very slowly over a few hours, so the potatoes will suck the liquid up and turn into lovely little soft balls of curryliciousness (is that a word? Ah well, it is now).

Pop the lid back on and go and do something else for a few hours. Write an opera, I’m told there’s good money for those in Europe …


You should come back to something like this. Mine was cooked for just over four hours, but anything longer than two should be good. Ideally, you’re now about half an hour away from when you want to be serving it up. Leave the heat on low, take the lid off, and let it simmer away to reduce any liquid down to nothing.


Look, Ma! No juice!


Add a dribble of coconut cream.


Stir it around, give it a taste, and add a little more if you like it runny. You might also decide to give it another hit of chilli at this point.


And it’s done! Now to serve it all up …


Here’s some rice I prepared earlier. I use Basmati rice, but that’s because I use Basmati rice for everything. I even make rice pudding with Basmati rice (but that’s another story …)


Slop it all on to the plates and put it in front of hungry people. Guaranteed not to last!

As a note, I like to steam a bunch of veggies to have with mine – I plate the rice, add the veggies, and then dribble the curry over the top. This is because I am the only vegetable eater in the house, and no one else will tolerate me putting it into the curry. Beans, julienned carrots, and little pieces of cauliflower works well. You can also add these in the last hour of simmering as well, that way they properly suck up the flavours of the curry.

You can see all these pictures (with slightly different captions) in my Lamb Rendang Picasa album

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