Week 77. Brunei. Rendang.


When I was young there was only one person who came to mind when asked ‘who is the richest person in the world’? These were the days before Bill Gates or Carlos Slim and Mark Zuckerburg was toddling around New York. The name we all talked of was, of course, Hassanal Bolkiah.


Hassanal Bolkiah is The Sultan of Brunei and the man we all knew to have more money than anyone else on the planet. He did (and still does, to a lesser extent) being rich the flamboyant way – the way I grew up aspiring to do it. He wasn’t like Zuckerberg who lives (relatively) modestly – he spent money and showed off. He has thousands of expensive and beautiful cars, he pilots his own Boeing and helicopters. He has fine cigars made for him and his Rolls Royce is plated in 24 carat gold. Wonderful.

I’d like to be wealthy. I’m not fussed about rich. I would like to be able to go to the pub and not feel sick giving them £5 for one pint. I would like to not feel like I want to punch myself when I notice that my car tax is due to be renewed. I will know I have made it when I have a pizza oven in my garden. The deal I have with my wife is that when we get a big garden, one which is big enough for the kids to play, to have a herb garden and to have an 8 seater table for the parties she intends on throwing – then, and only then, I can have a pizza oven.

I picture the day I have made it. The kids are playing tennis (quietly) in the garden and I am reading the paper with a cool frosted glass of lager. My wife is sat with her feet in the pool reading ‘Hello’ and I’m sat next to the Pizza Oven waiting for it to be ready for me to slide in the pizza I have created. The pizza, from above, will look like a pile of chillies, with a scattering of torn ham, spicy sausage on top, oh – and a cracked egg in the middle. I will eat the pizza and make those noises you will make when something is too spicy. My wife will tell me I’m “so bloody stupid” for making it too hot, and whilst I will secretly agree, I will say that “it’s not too hot” and that “I like it this way”. This will be the day I have made it.

As I have not made it quite yet, I will deal with the present. This dish is an absolute winner. Brunei is attached to Indonesia and this dish has an Indonesian origin. I would have probably chosen it for when I got to cook Indonesia, but everything I have read suggests I should do Nasi Goreng then. So, for Brunei I chose Rendang Curry.

I’ve mentioned this before, but Curries from this part of the world are fragrantly wonderful. They have all the heat you want, but the lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves and tamarind create a floral sauce which works well with the rich beef. It’s a brilliant curry and easy to mate – once you have gone to a supermarket which would stock all the ingredients. I went to our local Thai Supermarket and they had everything. If you can get the ingredients, make this dish. It’s easy and something which will taste like you have worked on it for hours…and if people are coming round for dinner your house will smell amazing on their arrival.



5 Shallots

3 Cloves Garlic

4 Birds Eye Chilles

5 Slices (inch) of Fresh Ginger

5 Chopped Lemon Grass Sticks

2 Teaspoons Coriander Seeds

500g Stewing Beef

1.5 Cups Coconut (dessicated)

1 Cup Coc0nut Milk

1.       Heat the coconut in a dry wok, stirring continuously until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

2.       Using a blender or a food processor, blend the shallots, garlic, chilies, ginger, and lemon grass to a thick paste. Use a splash of coconut milk to help it blend

3.       Using the wok, fry the shallot paste in a little oil for a few minutes. Add beef; cook over a medium heat for a further 3 to 4 minutes, or until meat is browned.

4.       Stir in sugar, coconut, coconut milk, lime leaves and water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until most of the liquid has gone and the meat is tender (about 1 hour). Season with salt to taste.


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