• Aug
  • 30
  • 2011

raya madness // malaysian chicken curry rendang

‘Rendang?, Errr..’ That’s what I would say a couple of years back had you told me to make it. It never crossed my mind to even have a go at making rendang. Then one day, after picking my sister up at the airport (her trip back from Malaysia), she casually mentioned that she had written down a rendang recipe from our cousin’s grandma, Tok Ye, whilst she was staying with them. My reaction; “what? where? pleaseee give it to me!”. We all know she’s a good excellent cook. I tried it straight away. Kinda failed the first time. Tried again. Getting better. Third time, ‘wow nice’, forth attempt, ‘I have mastered this dish’ *insert proud face*. You’re probably wondering why it took me a few go’s before perfecting it? It aint easy! No two rendangs taste the same. Once you make this, you’ll never want to eat from a packet again. An original, from scratch, this rendang is truly authentic. And please don’t take any shortcuts or leave out any ingredient. Rendang is a sensitive dish. Have I scared you off?

This aromatic-absolutely-delicious-mouth-watering-jam-packed-full-of-flavour dish originated from Malaysia/ Indonesia. The usual rendang is made with tender juicy beef, but since I was cooking for mum and she doesn’t like beef,  I made it with chicken instead. It taste just as good if you’re into chicken. Who isn’t :p


Adapted from Tok Ye, with slight modifications

Serves: 4
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 1-2 hours


Part A (Blend till it forms a fine paste)
12 small shallots
7 cloves garlic
1 knob ginger, 4 cm
1 knob galangal, 4cm
3 lemongrass, end part only and sliced thinly

Part B (Dry fry the first 3 ingredients untill fragrant, and then blend all together)
2 tbsp ketumber (coriander seeds)
1 tsp jintan manis (cummin seeds)
1 tsp jintan putih (fennel seeds)
15 dried chilli, soaked in hot water for 30 mins

The rest of the ingredients are:
1 kilo chicken curry pieces, with bones
2 tsp ginger paste (to marinate the chicken)
2 tsp garlic paste (to marinate the chicken)
2 tsp salt
2 tsp palm sugar (or brown sugar)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp black pepper
1.5 tbsp curry powder (brand:baba’s meat curry powder)
3-4 kaffir lime leaves
100g kerisik (dry fry shredded coconut untill golden brown)
1 can coconut cream
1/2 cup oil
1 cup water


1. Marinate chicken with a bit of salt and the ginger & garlic paste. Stand for an hour.

2. Put oil and add the ingredients from Part B, fry until fragrant and you see the oil separates. Should take about 7-10 mins.

3. Add part A, turmeric, tamarind and curry powder then fry again until oil separates. Another 7 mins.

4. Put the chicken and water in then cook covered for an hour on low heat. Stir regularly to make sure it doesn’t burn.

5. Add the kaffir lime leaves, coconut cream, kerisik (shredded coconut) and season generously with salt, pepper and sugar.

6. Cook for another half hour or so until it dries out and the colour has darkened.

7. It is usually served with any type of rice- rice cubes, steam rice, sticky rice.


Click ‘Read More’ below to view my tips on how to concoct a wonderful pot of rendang.


1. Don’t use powder spices. Use real whole fresh spices.

2. Let it simmer on a low heat for a while! 1.5-2 hours for chicken and 3-4 hours for beef.  By leaving it on the stove longer, the colour gets darker.

3. If you’re using chicken, get the ones with bones. Mix pieces always works well. Or curry pieces.

4. If you’re using beef, get chuck steak and cut them into big chunky cubes (they reduce in size when cooked).

5. If you’re planning on making this, I highly suggest you start cooking a day or two in advance. Rendang tastes better the longer its kept as it allows the flavour from the spices and meat to really sink in. I would usually cook a huge pot and freeze it in portions. Trust me, it tastes even better one month later. No joke!

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4 responses to “raya madness // malaysian chicken curry rendang”

  1. Zainab says:

    Salaam aleikum, I made this curry 2 days ago and it turned out really nice. I definitely recommend others giving it a go, it is the nicest tasting coconut milk based curry I have ever made, it is full of beautiful exotic flavors. My family said this recipe tasted like what they used to have in Indonesian/Malaysian restaurants and they ranked it just after their favorite dish (which means I will have to make this again and again Smile).

    I only put 8 dried chilies rather than 12. It was a bit too hot for my family on the first day we ate it (they are pretty good with hot food usually), however on the second day the chili was only mildly hot, which could be because the curry had become drier and the chili had infused into the meat. The curry also tasted even more delicious on the second day (so I will take your tip and cook it a few days in advance in the future). I would suggest for others who plan on making this and your family doesn’t do well with hot food to maybe cut down the dried chilies or to reduce the curry down as much as possible.

  2. Iva says:

    waalaiakumsalam Zainab, thanks for trying it and getting it near right the first time, you must be an adventurous cook to try out this recipe!

  3. Iva says:

    Waalaikumsalam sis Aisha,

    Thanks for leaving a lovely comment after trying out the recipe! I’m not sure from where this rendang is influenced from, but I can tell you that every region in Malaysia or even Singaporean and Indonesian rendang, all tastes different to one another. Even using the same recipe, yours and mine could slightly differ. Its funny hey? hehe. But this is the rendang I grew up eating. I know a lot of people in Melbourne tried rendang the sweeter way which is more of the Indonesian rendang.


  4. Melinda says:

    Hi Iva, I haven’t cooked with fresh lemongrass before although I love the flavour. When you say the end piece, you mean the root end, correct? And roughly how much of the end do you use? 5cm? 10cm?

    I love beef rendang, but have never cooked it from scratch – only using the Indofood sachets. This recipe looks wonderful!


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