In its original land, Padang (Minangkabau), West Sumatra, Indonesia, there are plenty of mouth-watering varieties of rendang. One of the best foods in CNN’s “World’s Best Food” in 2011 is the chicken rendang recipe. It’s perfect for anyone who prefers chicken over beef.
Before you get overwhelmed by the thought of how scrumptious it can be, let’s dive into the chicken rendang (rendang ayam) and try to make it in your very own kitchen.
What You Need to Know about Rendang
Rendang is actually not the name of an ingredient or composition of the cuisine. It’s originally a word of the Minangese language to describe a specific cooking process, randang (noun), merandang (verb). It means to remove the water.
As a result, rendang is often referred to as a dry curry. This characteristic is what makes rendang a specialty dish that can last long and is perfect for travel.
To achieve the desired result, rendang is typically cooked patiently over low heat with the lid left open. This method is essential to cook rendang and reduce the chicken rendang sauce to a darker color with a richer flavor.
The main spices and ingredients used in authentic Indonesian chicken rendang recipes are similar to those in beef rendang. However, chicken rendang requires less cooking time compared to the beef version.
Authentic Minangkabau Rendang Ayam Recipe
Now that you know the fundamental thing you need to process raw rendang into an edible one, read the following list of ingredients, cooking utensils, and steps to make one at your home. The ingredients you need here are essential yet simple in the rendang ayam recipe.
Simple Chicken Rendang Recipe
- 1 whole chicken (you can use a specific chicken parting as you wish, e.g: chicken leg, prepped them clean)
- 1 liter of thick coconut milk (you can use canned coconut milk, Indonesian instant thick coconut milk, but if you use the fresh coconut milk, you are going to need 2 or 3 liter of milk coconuts)
- 3 tablespoons cooking/coconut oil
- 2 pieces of turmeric leaf
- 5 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 piece of lemongrass, bruised
- 3 cloves garlic, grind separately
- Spice paste ingredients (make sure they are clean and fresh)
- 1 inch turmeric
- 100 gr (around 6) shallots
- 1 inch of ginger
- 1 inch of galangal, crushed
- 100 gr of curly red chilies
- 2 teaspoons of raw coriander (1 teaspoon of coriander powder)
- 10 pieces of cloves
- 1 star anise
- 2 inches of cinnamon
- 1 nutmeg
- 2 spoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
Cooking knife, cutting board, food processor or mortar (if you prefer to grind the spices paste in a traditional way), spatula, stove, and wok.
How to Cook
1. First, grind all of the spice ingredients together using a food processor or mortar.
2. Once the spice sauce is mixed, heat oil in the wok and saute the spice for chicken rendang paste with crushed garlic, bruised lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and turmeric leaf. Stir them gently for about 5 minutes until the fragrance emerges.
3. Add the chicken and cook them together until the chicken changes color.
4. Once the chicken starts to cook, add coconut milk and stir to mix it with the spice paste until it boils. Be careful when stirring, since you might accidentally rip the chicken.
5. Lower the heat to simmer, and let it cook with an open lid condition until the coconut milk releases oil. You’ll smell the fragrant coconut oil mixed with the spicy aroma of spice paste. In addition, you can add salt and sugar to adjust its savoriness with your preference.
6. Wait until the chicken tenderizes and the sauce becomes almost dry, caramelizing and coating the chicken.
7. Once it’s done, turn off the heat, and your chicken rendang is ready to serve.
Ready To Cook A Chicken Rendang?
What’s fascinating about rendang is not only the variety of main protein ingredients but also the diverse textures and sauce colors found in different regions. These variations are a result of the spices used and the cooking duration.
So, yes, there are several rendang recipes to choose from. The mentioned spices in the above recipe are similar to the style from the Pariaman region. The recipe for chicken rendang is simpler compared to beef rendang.
However, if you’re uncertain or unable to find the necessary ingredients, you can use an Indonesian traditional instant rendang seasoning. One pack is sufficient to make a portion for 2 to 3 people.
- What is rendang sauce made of?
As you can see from the detailed recipe, the ingredients for the chicken rendang paste (or spice paste) and rendang in general consist of a variety of spices commonly found and used in Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries. You need to grind the spices and then sauté them before mixing them with the thick coconut milk. One important point to remember is to let it cook slowly. Once the coconut milk releases coconut oil, it is crucial not to discard the oil. It is one of the essential components that contribute to the deep and flavorful taste of rendang.
- What to serve with chicken rendang?
In Indonesia, there are plenty of food choices you can serve as a condiment to chicken rendang. If you want to neutralize the savory taste of rendang, opt for a vegetable-based menu.
You have to try the authentic Minangese combination with boiled cassava leaves, or eggplant balado (balado terong) to get the mouthful flavor. However, chicken rendang can also be paired with tumis kacang panjang (sauteed green bean, and Indonesian pickled vegetables (carrot and cucumber with shallots and chilies). During the Eid El Fitr or Eid Al Adha, the most popular pair of rendang is balado kentang or sambal goreng kentang (sauteed potato served with Indonesian chili sauce), boiled egg balado (balado telur).
- What are the types of Indonesian rendang?
As mentioned earlier, Indonesia has a wide range of rendang. The most popular variety is the beef rendang, and you have now the chicken rendang on the list. Yet, from the beef itself, Indonesian people use the innards such as the beef lung, tripe, liver, and spleen for rendang’s main ingredient. Hence, you’ll have the beef tripe rendang (rendang babat sapi), beef spleen rendang (rendang limpa), beef lung, and liver rendang (rendang paru dan hati sapi which are so good). Shrimps and squids are also other usual ingredients for rendang to the coastal Minangese people. Furthermore, eggs and the dog fruit plant (Archidendron pauciflorum) are common alternatives to the Indonesian rendang variety.
- Is rendang the same as curry?
The ingredient for its sauce paste itself was inspired by the Indian people who lived in the Minangkabau highland around the 14th century. Some culinary experts consider it a dry curry. Still, the flavor is deeper and richer than curry in different parts of the world.