For the rendang paste, place the onion, ginger, galangal, garlic, lemongrass, turmeric and chillies into a food processor. Blend to form a smooth purée. Heat a wok and add the oil. Fry the paste over a high heat until the paste turns darker and is highly aromatic. Add the cardamom pods (crush the cardamom pods gently with the back of a spoon before frying), the cloves, star anise and the cinnamon stick broken in half and cook for another minute then add the meat.
Fry the meat in the paste stirring all the time, until it is well browned. Pour over the coconut milk and tamarind purée and bring to a gentle simmer, add the kaffir lime leaves and zest. Season with salt, stir well then reduce to a simmer.
Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently until the meat is really tender and the sauce reduced and rich (could be as much as 3 hours). If you find the sauce is reducing too quickly for the meat to be tender in time, add a little more coconut milk and keep cooking until meat is at desired tenderness. The curry should not be simmering (or boiling!). It should just bubble very gently and as the sauce thickens you will find that you need to stir more often to ensure it doesn't catch.
Meanwhile toast the coconut in a dry pan. Keep a close eye on this, as it can burn really quickly. It should be a lovely deep brown colour when ready. Blend to a powder in a small blender or pound in a pestle and mortar. When the rendang is ready, stir coconut into the mixture making sure it is well mixed in.
Serve rendang with rice, garnished with a few sprigs of coriander and/or deep-fried shallots and chilli.