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Malaysian chicken rendang recipe

Malaysian chicken rendang recipe

Chicken rendang is a very distinctive Malaysian curry with a strong lemongrass aroma and flavour.

Rendang literally means a dried curry in Malay and as the name suggests, a rendang is cooked until the liquid has dried and a layer of oil is visible on the top.

Chicken is quicker to cook than beef rendang, which can sometimes be cooked over night.

In Malaysia, traditionally all parts of the chicken are cooked, including bones and wings – to enhance the flavour. We however chose to stick to chicken breasts.

Ingredients for Malaysian chicken rendang recipe

Some of the ingredients for our Malaysian chicken rendang recipe

Ingredients for Malaysian chicken rendang

  • 1.2kg of chicken breast cut into small chunks
  • 3 large onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • one piece of fresh ginger
  • one piece of fresh galangal (or use more ginger if can’t find)
  • 3 stalks of lemongrass – smashed, not sliced
  • 4 tablespoons of chilli paste
  • 250ml water
  • 1 teaspoon fennel
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil for cooking
  • 700ml coconut milk
  • 90ml tamarind juice
  • 40g of desiccated coconut
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of palm sugar
  • 1 kaffir lime leaf – sliced
Chicken rendang finished

The completed chicken rendang looks something like this

How to make Malaysian chicken rendang

1. In large pan (no oil!), on medium heat, add 1 teaspoon each of cumin and fennel seeds and toast, stirring all the time, for 1 minute.

2. Remove from heat and grind them in a pestle and mortar.

Fennel and cumin seeds in postle and mortar

Malaysian grinding up fennel and cumin seeds in a pestle and mortar

3. In a food processor mix the 4 garlic cloves, 3 onions, galangal and 250ml of water.

4. Heat up 5 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a pan and add the food processor mixture and cook on high heat uncovered and mix in 4 tablespoons of chilli paste.

Chilli paste added to mixture

Stefan adding chilli paste to the mixture before mixing it all together

5. Add the smashed lemongrass stalks to the pan and cook on high heat uncovered for around 15 minutes.

6. Mix in the chicken pieces and continue cooking for a further 5 minutes.

7. Take a bunch of fresh tamarind and squeeze the fruit in a bowl of water. Leave to stand for 10 minutes, strain and add 90ml of the juice into the pan.

8. Mix in 700ml of coconut milk and let it cook on high heat, uncovered, until it starts boiling. Then reduce to a simmer and cook for around 1.5 hour or until it reduces, becomes dry and the oil starts to show at the surface:

Oil breaks and chicken rendang is ready

When the oil breaks and shows at the top, you know the chicken rendang is ready

9. Around 30 minutes in, mix in 40g of desiccated coconut, a pinch of salt, 1 tablespoon of palm sugar and 1 sliced kaffir lime leaf, and continue cooking as set out in paragraph 8.

Serve with steamed rice and a glass of chilled white wine of course (!)

Chicken rendang ready to be eaten

A completed chicken rendang goes nicely with a glass of chilled white wine 🙂

For more about our adventures through Malaysia, please check out our Malaysia travel video:


Chicken #rendang #Malaysia travel #recipe

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Sebastien is the co-founder, editor and author of He is a tech geek, a total travel nerd and a food enthusiast. He spends the majority of his time planning Nomadic Boys' travels meticulously right down to the minute details. Sebastien has travelled to over 80 countries with his partner in crime and the love of his life, Stefan. He regularly shares his expertise of what it’s like travelling as a gay couple both on Nomadic Boys and on prominent publications ranging from Pink News, Matador, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian and many more. Originally from France, Sebastien moved to London in the early 2000s where he pursued a career as a computer programmer for Thompson Reuters and Bloomberg. He subsequently left it all to explore his passion for travelling around the world with Stefan to hand, and thus Nomadic Boys was born.

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