Chicken rendang is ideal for people who don’t eat beef but would like a meat option. It’s a legitimate dish in its own right. You’ll often find it in Padang restaurants, although less frequently compared to the more famous beef rendang.
Cooking chicken rendang is similar to beef rendang, except that it requires less time. Braise the chicken slowly in coconut milk and spices, and it will gradually thicken to become a rich coconut curry. At this point, provided the chicken is fully cooked, you can serve it as ayam kalio — a curry dish that’s similar in consistency to Thai green curry. It’s not rendang yet, though! You’ll need to reduce the curry further until it thickens into a paste for it to be properly called rendang.
When it begins to thicken into a paste, you can stop cooking or continue by stir-frying the chicken in the paste. The more you cook it, the darker the colour will become, and the richer the flavour. I prefer chicken rendang to be slightly lighter compared to beef rendang — it’s a matter of personal preference. This way, the rich coconut flavour won’t overwhelm the taste of the chicken.
Chillies are a crucial part of rendang. In Indonesia, a wavy red chilli variety known as cabe keriting is used. It tends to be unavailable outside Indonesia, though, so in Singapore and Malaysia we use curly dried red chillies instead. You can also use big red chillies for a fresher, less spicy flavour – or if dried chillies are unavailable. I’ve also used coriander powder instead of ground coriander seeds, and turmeric powder instead of fresh turmeric, to save a little bit of time.Print
Recipe for chicken rendang: a stunning dish in its own right. The cook time is lengthy but rewarding; it yields a unique, rich, deep flavour.
- Half a chicken, portioned and washed
- 1 lime, juiced
- 7 big red chillies, sliced
- 2 inches galangal, sliced
- 2 inches ginger, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 1 large red onion, roughly chopped
- 2 stalks lemongrass, sliced and bruised
- 3 kaffir lime leaves
- ½ tsp coriander powder
- Pinch of turmeric powder
- 200ml coconut cream
- 1500ml water
- 3 tbsp vegetable oil
- Salt to taste
- Soak the chicken in a pot with 1 lt water, salt and lime juice for 15 minutes. Set aside.
- Dilute the coconut cream in 500ml water.
- Blend into a fine paste: chillies, galangal, ginger, garlic, and red onion.
- In a wok, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the blended paste and sauté until it thickens and starts to become dry.
- Add the lemongrass, lime leaves, coriander powder and turmeric powder. Mix well.
- Add the diluted coconut cream. Bring to a boil.
- Add the chicken. Reduce to a medium low flame. Cook until the chicken is done, and until the liquid has evaporated into a thick paste. This should take about 45 minutes to an hour. Stir occasionally to prevent the coconut from breaking.
- Turn off the heat and serve.
- You can use coriander powder instead of ground coriander seeds, and turmeric powder instead of fresh turmeric, to save a little bit of time.
Keywords: Spicy, Galangal, ginger, garlic, lemongrass