Roast Lamb Rendang

Rendang is one of those dishes that epitomises Malaysian, specifically Malay, cuisine.

This is slightly problematic as definitely originated in Sumatra (Indonesia), however prior to colonisation the Malay kingdom actually straddled both areas. Therefore I think it's fair to say the Malays can lay some claim... though many on a YouTube recipe comment section would 100% disagree.

For my first Malaysian/British supper club menu I knew I wanted to serve a joint, however roasting is far from normal here in Malaysia. In fact many homes won't even have an oven as the cuisine is generally basted around stews/curries, steaming and stir-frying. Instead I looked towards an all-time favourite recipe of mine for inspiration: Ottolenghi's Lamb Shawarma from what is arguably my favourite cookbook of all time - Jerusalem.

In this he slow roasts lamb with a spice marinade to imitate the spit-roasted shawarma of his home cuisine. I thought why not adapt this, substituting the sumac and paprika for the lemongrass and galangal.

A more traditional meat for Rendang would be Chicken or Beef, however I stuck with lamb as the flavour should stick up to a ballsy spicing of the dish and I think it slow-roasts better than any other meat. I was not disappointed with the results:


  • 2.5-3kg leg of lamb (bone in)

  • 6 tbsp of vegetable oil

  • 200ml coconut milk

  • 2tbsp palm sugar

  • 2 teaspoon of salt

  • 6 lemongrass stalks

  • 2 turmuric leaves (omit if not available)

  • 12 kaffir lime leaves

  • 15 large red dried chillis

  • 15cm fresh ginger (peeled)

  • 15 cm fresh galangal (peeled and minced finely)

  • 15cm fresh turmeric (peeled) - substitute 3tsp of dried powder is unavailable

  • 9 cloves of garlic

  • 3tsp fennel seeds

  • 6tsp coriander seeds

  • 3tsp black pepper seeds

  • 3tsp cumin seeds

  • 6 cardamom pods

The night before, dry roast the whole spices until aromatic and crush in a pestel and mortar.

Combine all the other ingredients, bar the lamb and coconut milk, and using a food processor blend to a smooth paste. Then fry in the oil until aromatic and the spice paste separates from the oil (approx. 10 mins). Cool to room temperature and mix with the coconut milk.

Score the lamb several times on both sides and cover with the marinade. Massage well to incorporate the marinade into the meat, particularly along the scores to ensure it penetrates the joint.

Marinate over-night and remove from the fridge 1hour before cooking to bring to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 170C/150C Fan/Gas Mark 3.5 (thanks Yotam) and roast for 4.5 hours.

After 30 minutes remove the lamb and add 1 cup of water to the mix. Take this opportunity to scrape the marinade from the side of the roasting tray and incorporate into the liquid, this will stop it catching on the hot surface. Use this liquid to baste every 45 mins so to ensure a nice spice crust develops on the meat. After 1.5 hour cover the lamb tightly with foil, however continue to baste. Also continue to add water as the fat from the lamb will keep it liquid, however may burn the marinate if the water is allowed to boil off.

Once done the lamb will start to fall away from the bone, however retain its structure. Remove the lamb from the liquid and rest to one side (this isn't necessary for tenderness due to the cooking process). Mix the remaining juices and marinade with water to make a thick gravy, adding more water if overly salty (through the cooking process it will have concentrated).

Carve/pull/tear the meat from the bone, garnish with slices spring onion and chilli. Serve with the gravy on the side and Mamak Potatoes and Sambal Brussel Sprouts.

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