Chicken rendang is quick and easy to make.
I love a good chicken rendang. Although beef rendang but this recipe with chicken has the advantage of being much quicker to cook.
The history of the chicken rendang…
It’s believed that rendang curries have Indian origins because of the cooking process and spices that are used.
Indian merchants brought the recipe to Indonesia and there is was adapted by the Minangkadu people to their own taste preferences using local ingredients.
Modern day chicken rendang originated in West Sumatra but they are equally as popular in Singapore and Malaysia. It was originally prepared for to take along on long journeys as the spices and salt helped preserve the curry.
In fact, chicken rendang is actually better when stored for a few days after cooking though I haven’t tried taking it on a long journey without refrigeration. I probably won’t be doing that either.
Most of the ingredients in an authentic chicken rendang can be easily sourced online and at your local supermarket.
One of the ingredients, is toasted grated coconut, kerisik in Asian shops.
You can easily make it by dry frying grated fresh or frozen coconut in a pan over medium heat until lightly browned and fragrant.
About the dry chillies…
Dried red bird’s or Kashmiri chillies are used to make an authentic chicken rendang.
I use about 12 but you should always add chillies to taste! If 12 sounds like too many, use less!
You could also add more if you like a super spicy chicken rendang.
If you find it difficult to find whole dried chillies, you could just add chilli powder to taste.
This chicken rendang recipe is pretty super easy and doesn’t require a lot of preparation.
If more convenient, you could prepare the toasted coconut and cube the chicken a couple of days ahead of cooking.
I recommend getting all your ingredients together before starting though. This is a time saver and makes cooking easier.
It’s aways best to have your ingredients in front of you before starting. That way you won’t need to go searching your cupboards for ingredient while cooking.
Step by step photos
- 70ml ( ¼ cup) coconut or rapeseed (canola) oil
- 1 x 5cm (2 inch) cinnamon stick
- 2 star anise
- 4 cloves
- 4 cardamom pods, lightly bruised
- 2 lemon grass stalks, white parts only, thinly sliced
- 800g (28 oz) chicken thighs, skinned and cubed
- 400ml (1 ½ cups) thick tinned (canned) coconut milk
- 250ml (1 cup) water
- 1 ½ tsp tamarind concentrate
- 5 lime leaves, stemmed and thinly sliced
- 6 tbsp toasted fresh or frozen grated coconut (kerisik)
- 1 tsp palm sugar – or more to taste
- salt to taste
- 2 red spur chillies, thinly sliced to garnish
- 3 spring onions (scallions) thinly sliced to garnish
- FOR THE RENDANG PASTE
- 6 shallots, roughly chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, smashed
- 1 inch galangal, roughly chopped
- 2 lime leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped
- 2 lemon grass, white parts only, thinly sliced
- 12 dried red chillies, soaked in water for 20 minutes
- For best results, place all of the spice paste ingredients in a pestle and mortar and pound to a paste. This could take up to 30 minutes so you can use a food processor to speed things up which is what I normally do. Set aside until ready to cook.
- Heat the oil in a large clay pot, wok or frying pan over medium-high heat. When visibly hot, stir in the whole spices and allow them to infuse into the oil for about 30 seconds. Then add the prepared rendang paste and fry for a further 30 seconds to cook out the rawness.
- Add the thinly sliced lemongrass followed by the chicken and stir well to combine. Fry for about 5 minutes or until the chicken is almost cooked through and then add the coconut milk and just enough water to cover. I add about 250ml (1 cup). Add the lime leaves and bring to a simmer. Stir in the toasted coconut, tamarind and sugar and cover the pan to cook on a medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the sauce until the liquid has almost dried up and is coating the chicken pieces.
- Check for seasoning, adding salt to taste and a little more sugar if desired and serve garnished with the sliced red chillies and spring onions (scallions).