Auntie Ruby's Chicken Rendang

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chicken Rendang (wet variety)
Rendang is a dry type of curry, which my Mum cooked often. I have many memories of eating her  Beef Rendang (check her recipe here) and Chicken Rendang.

According to tradition, it is an Indonesian dish. As the meat is cooked for a long time ("merandang") till the curry is dried out, it can keep for a long time. This explains why the recipe was popular during pre-refrigeration times. There are two types of Rendang, the dry and wet variety. The dry one can keep very well, even in room temperature. In fact, dry beef rendang is almost like dry beef jerky.

Following my Mum's version, note the following when cooking Rendang:
  • The dish is cooked longer and depending on the type of meat used, the size of the cut and quantity, it can go up to two hours. Be patient. 
  • Kerisik (toasted and pounded grated coconut) is often used. 
  • Strong herbs like Kaffir lime leaves and blue ginger (galangal) are added 
Chicken will cook faster than beef. Chicken is cut into large sizes to allow for longer cooking and for the curry to dry out.

Do read up on the post on Beef Rendang where I gave more background info on the ingredients, including kerisik.

Rendang goes very well with steamed rice, rice cake (ketupat), glutinous rice cake (lemang) or bread. Get it right and you will agree with me that it is one of the best types of curry from our region.

Ingredients for Rendang:
in bowl - ginger, blue ginger, shallots, turmeric
bottom small plate  - cinnamon sticks, star aniseed, cloves
left small plate - coriander seeds, cumin seeds
top - lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves, assam keping (or gelugur)
(red chillies not shown here)
Recipe for Chicken Rendang

1 large Chicken, cut into large pieces
30 pieces of dried chilli
20 Shallots – thinly sliced
1 inch turmeric (kunyit)
2 inches of galangal (blue ginger or lengkuas) – thinly sliced
2 inches of ginger – thinly sliced
2 stalks of lemon grass – bruised (just give it a good whack with the blunt side of the chopper)
A bowl of oil (200 ml)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
(Sugar and salt can be added according to taste. Gula Melaka can be added in place of sugar)
200 ml coconut milk
2 dried tamarind slices (asam gelugur or asam keping)
5 pieces of Kaffir Lime leaves (or daun limau perut) - stems removed and blended or cut finely
3 tablespoons of kerisik (see notes below)

Aromatics/Spices:1 Cinnamon Stick
1 tsp Coriander seeds
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 Star Aniseeds
5 Cardamom pods
3 cloves

Making the Kerisik
  1. Use 1 grated coconut (clean, without any husk). 
  2. In a wok on low fire, toast the coconut till it is brown in colour, but not burnt. Stir constantly to prevent burning. It will take about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Using a mortar (lesong), pound the toasted coconut in small batches till it is a oily and sticky paste.
Note that if you squeezed the grated coconut to extract the milk (as is done commercially), it will be harded to produce an oily kerisik. So, leave the milk in. One grated coconut can produce a bowl of kerisik. You only need 3 tablespoons for this recipe. Store the rest in the freezer for future use.

Frying the grated coconut in low fire for about 30 mins
Pound the toasted coconut till it is oily and glistening
Preparing the rest of the ingredients
  1. Cut the chicken into large pieces, i.e. the wings and drumsticks should be whole. 
  2. Soak the dried chillies. 
  3. Peel the onions, garlic, ginger, tumeric and galangal and slice into smaller pieces.
  4. Slice the bottom white part of the lemon grass.
  5. Toast the cumin seeds and coriander seeds for a minute in the dry wok. 
  6. Blend the above (no. 2-5) together. Coarsely.
  7. Dice the Kaffir lime leaves finely.
Cooking Steps 
  1. Heat up the oil in the wok. 
  2. Add the star aniseed, cardamon and cloves and dry toast for a minute. 
  3. Add the blended paste, 2 tablespoons of the kerisik and simmer in low fire for 15 minutes. 
  4. Put in the chicken in and mix into the paste. 
  5. Then add coconut cream and some water . Fill up the wok till it covers most of your meat.
  6. Simmer in low in heat for about an hour or more, till the meat is tender enough. Stir occasionally to prevent bottom burning.  
  7. Near the end, adjust the taste if you need to i.e salt & sugar. 
  8. Before serving, add 1 tablespoon of kerisik and diced kaffir lime leaves.

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  1. Wow ... can I invite myself to your house for dinner? Everything looks insanely good. I have to try some of your recipes. What a great site!

  2. Just made this recipe. It takes a little effort, but is absolutely delicious. Note, I added a stick of cinnamon to the pot (as shown on your photo of spices), and also I added some tamarind-water since that was mentioned as an ingredient. I had to substitute lime zest for lime leaf, and a little turmeric powder for fresh turmeric. Even on my first try, this came out almost as good as the best Rendang I ate in Malaysia. Thank you!

  3. Oh, and I also added a few cloves of garlic because that is mentioned in the recipe but not listed in the spices or shown in the photo. I suppose it's a very forgiving recipe!!

  4. Hi there. Wanna ask what to do with the tamarind? Thanks

  5. If you have whole tamarind, dissolve it in a bit of water until it is fully broken up. Then strain to remove the seeds and stringy stuff so you are left with a brown tamarind water. Add it to the dish whenever you like, I am not sure what is the proper time! The author may tell us.

    1. Assam kepiting is not the tamarind paste that you are referring to, it is completely different.

    2. Yes. Can be used if one cannot find Assam keping for the sours. Or lime if both are not available.

  6. You can add the Asam keping at step 3, when you add the blended paste.

  7. Thank you for this recipe! I usually prefer beef rending, but this has convinced me to have chicken in future.