Introduction: TRADITIONAL MALAYSIAN CHICKEN RENDANG
Rendang is a dry type of curry, simmered for a long time, which allows the meat to soak up all the flavours that make up this unique dish. Traditional Malaysian Chicken Rendang is a version of dry chicken curry dish and is one of the specialties in Malaysian cooking. This Traditional Malaysian Chicken Rendang is so rich in flavours and spices that you will never have enough once it’s done. The spices used in cooking this dish also serve as natural organic preservation and together with appropriate slow cooking of the chicken, this flavourful dish can often be kept for up to a month.
1.5 kg chicken,cut into bite size
1 cup grated coconut, for kerisik
1 cup Thick coconut milk
30 gram palm sugar, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp salt, to taste
1 galangal, peeled and crushed
3 stalks lemongrass (sera), crushed
1 turmeric leaf (daun kunyit), crushed
1 turmeric leaf (daun kunyit), finely sliced
2 kaffir leaves, crushed
2 kaffir leaves, finely sliced
Ingredients to be ground (A)
5 red chillies, seeded
20 dried chillies, soaked and seeded
Ingredients to be ground (B)
20 shallots, peeled
5 cloves garlic, peeled
5 candlenuts (buah eras)
1 galangal (lengkuas), peeled
1 ginger, peeled
1 turmeric (kunyit), peeled
3 stalks lemongrass (serai)
Step 1: First Prepare the Chicken.
First clean chicken and cut into pieces. Then season with salt and set aside.
Chicken is normally cut into large pieces to allow for longer cooking and for the curry to dry out.
Step 2: Prepare All the Spice (rempah) Ingredients Needed to Make This Dish.
Chillies (Fresh and Dried Chillies)
There is a wide range of fresh and dried chillies from which to choose. Generally the larger the chilli, the milder the flavour. However, the best way to gauge potency is by taste. There are differences in flavour between dried and fresh chillies. The fresh red chillies are primarily hot with some sweetness whereas the dried chillies are more intense in flavour.
Shallots & Garlic
Choose shallots there are firm and heavy for their size, not dry and light and should have no soft spots. Sprouting shallots are an indication of age and should be avoided.
Garlic bulbs should be plump and compact with unbroken, dry skin. Avoid those with damp or soft spot. A heavy, firm bulb indicates that the garlic will be fresh and flavourful.
Fresh ginger root has a sharp, distinctive flavour. Choose firm, plump fresh ginger root with unwrinkled, shiny skins.
This is a rich, golden-coloured root and is a member of the ginger family. Turmeric is also available in powder form. It is used in curries and gives it the distinct yellow colour and flavour.
Candlenuts (Buah Keras)
A round shaped, cream coloured seed that contains a large amount of oil. It enhances the flavour as well as thickens the gravy of the curry dish.
Galangal (Blue Ginger/ Lengkuas)
Fresh galangal,a rhizome of the ginger family, is different from ordinary ginger because it has a more distinct, stronger peppery taste. It complements Asian cuisine and a MUST have in this rendang dish.
Also known as citronella, it has a long, pale green stalk and a bulbous end similar to that of a spring onion.Only the bottom are used. It has a woody texture and an aromatic, lemony scent.
Kaffir Lime Leaves
These are used rather like bay leaves and gives an aromatic lime flavour to the dish.
Fresh and tender turmeric leaves give the curry a sweet fragrance.
This is produced from the white flesh of the coconut by adding some water and squeezing out the liquid.
Kerisik (grated, toasted coconut)
Coconut is grated, toasted and then ground. It is used to thicken the curry and is a MUST have for this dish as it gives a really fragrant and smoky taste to the curry, making it distinctive from all the other curries.
This is strongly flavoured, dark brown sugar make from the sap of the coconut and it enhances the overall flavour of the curry. Substitute with sugar if palm sugar is not available.
Step 3: Blend Chillies Into Chilli Paste.
Snip dried chillies into two and de-seed with a pair of scissors. Soak the dried chillies in hot water.
Also cut and de-seed fresh red chillies.
Blend all the cut chillies into chilli paste and set aside.
Step 4: Blend All Other Spice Ingredients.
Cut garlic, shallots, lemongrass, galangal, turmeric into smaller pieces and blend into a coarse paste.
Step 5: Shred Turmeric and Kaffir Lime Leaves.
Turmeric and kaffir lime leaves give a sweet and aromatic flavour to the chicken curry. You can choose not to add kaffir lime leaves but turmeric leaves are a must because rendang without turmeric leaves just don't taste the same. And we're ready to cook the dry chicken curry!
Remove the midrib and stalk of turmeric and kaffir lime leaf. Roll the leaf together and shred finely using a sharp knife.
Choose fresh turmeric and kaffir lime leaves that are light green in colour and the leaves should not be wilted. Can be stored in refrigerator for a week before use.
Step 6: Saute the Chilli Paste.
First add cooking oil into a heated wok over medium low heat and saute the crushed lemongrass and galangal until fragrant.
Then add in the chilli paste and stir fry until aromatic.
Be sure to use enough oil as it ensures that the spice (rempah) cooks evenly.
Step 7: Add the Yellow Onion Paste.
Mix all the spice ingredients together and continue to saute for about 5 to 10 minutes until aromatic and the oil begins to separate from the paste and the paste has darken considerably.
The spice is sufficiently cooked when the oil separates from the paste forming two distinct layers.
Step 8: Add the Pieces of Chicken.
Stir fry the chicken with the aromatic spice paste for about 10 minutes or until the skin begins to brown slightly and all the chicken has been well coated with the spice.
Do not overcook the chicken.
Step 9: Add in the Rest of Ingredients Except Kerisik (toasted Coconut).
Then add in thick coconut milk followed by the crushed kaffir and turmeric leaves.
Next, add in palm sugar (gula melaka) or sugar.
Continue stirring occasionally as you bring the curry gravy to a boil.
Step 10: Simmer Very Gently the Chicken Curry.
Then adjust heat to low and leave to simmer UNCOVERED for 30 minutes so that the sauce reduces and the chicken cooks through. Stir constantly to make sure everything is cooked evenly and does not stick to the bottom of the wok.
Do not cover the wok while simmering the chicken curry as we want the sauce to reduce and become thick.
This dish has very little gravy and chicken must not be overcooked or the curry (rendang) will look messy with the meat and bones separated.
Step 11: Meanwhile, Cook Toasted Coconut (kerisik)
Prepare kerisik (toasted coconut) by dry frying freshly grated coconut under medium low heat until it is well toasted and turn brown and aromatic, about 10 minutes.
Then pound the kerisik (toasted coconut) in a mortar as this will help release some of the oils within as well as to intensify the nutty aroma.
Set aside the pounded kerisik to cool before use.
Kerisik (toasted coconut) is an absolute must in all renderings as it renders a distinct fragrant nutty aroma, imparted through the toasting of the grated coconut.
Kerisik can be made ahead of time and it can be stored in the freezer for months before use.
Dried grated coconut can also be used but the resulting paste may not be as fragrant.
Kerisik (toasted coconut) is sometimes referred to as coconut butter.
1 grated coconut can produce about 1 bowl of kerisik (toasted coconut). Store the rest in the freezer for future use.
Step 12: Add Toasted Coconut (kerisik) and Shredded Aromatic Leaves.
After 30 minutes of gentle simmer, add toasted coconut (kerisik) and stir well to incorporate into the chicken rendang gravy. Then stir in the shredded turmeric and kaffir lime leaves.
The toasted coconut acts to thicken the curry to give it a thicker texture. It also gives the chicken curry (rendang) an added nutty aroma. Adding kerisik (toasted coconut) is vital for this rendang (curry) dish.
Step 13: Adjust Seasoning to Taste.
Lastly, add in salt and adjust taste accordingly.
Then continue to cook for another 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked and tender and the gravy is thick and reduced. And we're done!
Do not overcook the chicken.
Step 14: Dish Up and Serve.
Remove turmeric leaves, kaffir leaves and galangal from dish before serving.
This chicken rendang dish is so flexible and can be eaten with rice, bread or even pasta if you so prefer!
Rendang always taste better when served the next day.
For those who prefer not to use chicken, beef is a good meat substitute in this dish.
As always, ENJOY!