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Chicken Rendang

Last week’s blog about the most delicious food in the world made me awestricken on Rendang from Indonesia which is a lovely concoction of English beef rib cuts seasoned with many ingredients. The natural foodstuffs such as tamarind pulp, galangal, lemongrass, cardamom pods, star anise, kaffir lime leaves, etc., are hard work to source for this hearty Asian cuisine that leaves your tastebuds asking for more!

To cut a long story short let me tell you about the chicken Rendang made this Saturday for my daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter, and two pet dogs visiting from a coastal resort on the southern coast of the Atlantic Ocean. Together with Malaysian coconut milk rice (nasi lemak), many of the ingredients listed above just weren’t readily available, and so I improvised with spice powders like paprika and substitutes like lime juice, pickled onions, sweet potato and fresh celery. 


It doesn’t look much, but the taste was well worth the effort. Three 200ml bottles of coconut milk were used and two packets of dried coconut. Initially, coconut oil was added to a cast-iron deep-frying pan. Once heated, blended spice paste was added with cinnamon powder instead of cinnamon sticks. Then simmered for ten minutes before adding two kilograms of boneless chicken thighs. Thighs because they are fatter than breast which helps create a better flavored dish.


  • Nuts

  • Dried Chilies

  • Ginger

  • Garlic

  • Onions

After the chicken had been stirred a few times, it was time to add one of the 200ml coconut milks. Interestingly enough, the sauce became a light brown color, and the aromatic Rendang began to show its real form. Ten minutes on, and a second bottle for topping up purposes to cater for one smallish cut up sweet potato, a couple of celery strands, and pieces of aubergene. I chose such additions based on my culinary gut instincts because galangal, lemongrass, cardamom pods, star anise, kaffir lime leaves had not been obtained. Salt and pepper and a few drops of lime juice were also added.

Incidentally, many of these products are available in Brazil, but it would mean a lot of running around to find them. Several can be found online as imported dried produce in sealed plastic bags which would be nothing like fresh ingredients though if the opportunity arose, an effort could be made to go out and see what can be found.

The dried coconut was fried in a frying pan with a little butter by gently tossing until golden brown. According to the video in last week’s blog it becomes buttery. That never happened after mashing with a pounder, so instead butter was added to make it paste like. Even then it stayed lumpy and wouldn’t blend together. Extra butter was added to help, but that made little impact. What was produced was flung into the Rendang curry.

Supplementary small diced onions and garlic were added to oil heated up and then white rice was put in a saucepan. Boiling hot water followed and eventually evaporated. Once the water had almost vaporized while cooking to soften the rice, another bottle of coconut milk was thrown in and stirred. A few minutes later the stove was turned off. There you have it, Malaysian coconut milk rice (nasi lemak). This was all mixed in with Rendang and served as a ready meal.

The chicken Rendang was cooked for about an hour before taking a large spoon of meat and sauce. It tasted tender and delicious. Immediately afterwards, the rice was added and mixed in. A few minutes later and I turned off the stove and let it rest. About one hour and five minutes in total to cook.

My daughters both tried a little bit and said it was very good. My small plate for brunch confirmed it. The following day the whole family sat for lunch to have it alongside a side salad. My son in law even asked for a second helping, so it must have been pretty good.

The real beauty of making these curry style dishes is that you can select the ingredients you want. It basically comes down to one’s imagination. Be bold and give it a go!

All the best!

Prof. Carl Boniface


Vocabulary builder:

Awestricken (adj) = impressed, enthralled, overwhelmed, fascinated, stunned

Tossing (v) = mixing, stirring, blending, incorporating, mix up, flipping from one side to the other

Lumpy (adj) = uneven, bumpy, unsmooth, cumbersome, awkward

Flung (v) = threw, thrown, tossed, hurled, pitched, chucked, lobbed. Cast, slung, let fly

Diced (n) = cube, chop, cut up, cut into cubes  

Bold (adj) = brave, daring, courageous, gallant, audacious, valiant, confident, forward, cheeky, (ant) cowardly, timid

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