Chicken Rendang

I can remember the last time I tucked into a delectable serving of chicken rendang. It’s one of my favorite dishes, granted that it’s done properly. It’s also one of the dishes that I probably have only twice a year – one during Deepavali and the other one during Hari Raya. That’s why it makes it a specialty festive dish. I still remember the wonderful aroma and flavor emanating from the chicken rendang that my neighbor used to make and sell to us during Deepavali. She has that magic touch that even my mom, a fantastic cook, was unable to replicate. The aunty had since passed on and the search for the best ever chicken rendang remains elusive.

This is my first attempt at cooking this dish. I must say that though it doesn’t taste exactly the same way as the best-ever-chicken-rendang that I know of, it was pretty close. So, I am just going to keep this recipe and tweak it along the way.


  • 500 gm chicken, chopped
  • 7 tablespoons oil
  • 1 piece turmeric leaf, thinly shredded
  • 3 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 2-inch length, smashed
  • 150 ml thick coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup pounded kerisik (dry roasted dessicated coconut that is golden brown and very fragrant) or 2 tbsp kerisik
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon tamarind paste

Ingredients to be dry roasted in a wok/pan over a small fire for about 5 minutes, cooled down, and then pounded or grinded:

  • 12 gm whole black peppercorns
  • 12 gm coriander seeds
  • 12 gm fennel seeds
  • 12 gm cumin seeds
  • (the dry roasting makes these spices very aromatic)
  • 4 heaping tsp (normal tsp) of this spice

Spice Paste:

  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 13 dried red chilis, soaked in warm water and seeds removed
  • 5 fresh red chilis, seeds removed
  • 2 stalks lemongrass (white part only), lightly smashed
  • 12 shallots
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2-inch ginger, peeled
  • 30 gm/ 1-inch fresh turmeric, skin removed
  • 1/2-inch galangal (lengkuas), peeled
  • 1 candlenut, lightly smashed


  1. Blend the dry-roasted spice mix and set aside.
  2. Blend all Spice Paste ingredients in a food processor until fine. Scoop out, and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in wok and add blended mixture. Stir fry for 5 minutes or until paste separates from the oil.
  4. Add in 4 tsp of the powdered spices and mix thoroughly into spice paste.
  5. Add chicken and stir fry for 5 minutes.
  6. Add in the coconut milk and some water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to small and simmer for about 45 minutes or until meat is tender.
  7. Add in the turmeric, kaffir lime leaf and lemon grass.
  8. Add the coconut kerisik when the meat is almost tender, like 10 minutes before finish.
  9. Stir thoroughly….bring up the heat again to boil the rendang again, then lower heat to simmer until the oil separates at the top, from the kerisik.
  10. Season with salt and sugar.
  11. You have to keep stirring frequently to avoid burning. When the meat is tender and the sauce is almost dry, remove from heat. Serve with any type of rice or bread.
  12. If you don’t want your rendang to be too dry, you can add more water to it and simmer for at least another 20 minutes.
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