How-To: Chicken Rendang

In my earlier post, I shared on how to make the basic nasi lemak rice and I love to add an additional main dish or two to accompany the rice. Here I chose to use chicken instead of beef as this is a more neutral meat to use.

It is always nice to know some background about the dishes that we are cooking.  So the curious me started searching for the origin of this dish and I was pleasantly surprise to find out that Rendang originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia. Rendang is also commonly seen in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and even Southern Philippines. Rendang is rich in spices. Along with the main meat ingredient, rendang uses coconut milk (Minangkabau: karambia) and a paste of mixed ground spices, which includes ginger, galangal, turmeric leaves, lemongrass, garlic, shallot, chilli and other spices. (If you are interested to find out more, please click here.)

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Serves 4


500g to 600g chicken (cut into bite sizes)

2 lemongrass, white part only (pounded and cut into 3 sections)
5 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cinnamon sticks
3 cloves
3 star anise
4 cardamom pods
1 ½ cups coconut milk
½ cup water
6 kaffir lime leaves (bruised)
3 tablespoons toasted grated coconut (kerisik)
1 tablespoon sugar or to taste

Salt to taste

Rempah /Spice Paste:

6 shallots
1 inch turmeric (peeled and coarsely chopped) or 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric

1 inch galangal (peeled and coarsely chopped)
3 stalks lemongrass, white part only (cut into small portions)
4 cloves garlic (crushed)
1 inch ginger (peeled coarsely chopped)
15 dried chilies (deseed if you do not want your rendang to be too spicy, and soak in water)


Preparation for the Rempah/Spice Paste:


  1. Place the cut lemongrass, shallots, garlic, turmeric, galangal, ginger and chilies in a food processor/blender and blend until the consistency is chunky-smooth, if necessary add a teaspoon or so of water to get the paste to move along.

Cooking the Chicken Rendang:

  1. Cut the chicken into pieces. Rinse clean and drain well.
  2. Add the cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, cloves and star anise into a shallow skillet (nonstick is best) to dry toast them for a minute. Stirring occasionally.
  3. Then add in the cooking oil. Heat over a medium-low heat.
  4. Add the rempah/paste and sauté for two minutes or more, till fragrant but not burnt.
  5. Put in the chicken pieces and the lemongrass. Mix well into the paste.
  6. Pour in the coconut milk (and water if necessary) to fill up the skillet till it covers most of your meat. Simmer on medium-low heat, stirring frequently until the chicken is almost cooked.
  7. Then add the bruised kaffir lime leaves and the kerisik and stir well to blend with the chicken.
  8. Cover with a lid and slowly simmer for 30 minutes or until the chicken is tender and the liquid has dried up.
  9. Add sugar and salt to taste.
  10. Serve immediately with your coconut rice or steamed rice.


  1. I used store bought kerisik but if you are interested to make them yourself you might use this recipe.

Making the Kerisik

  1. Use 1 grated coconut (clean, without any husk).
  2. In a wok on low fire, toast the coconut till it is brown in colour, but not burnt. Stir constantly to prevent burning. It will take about 20-30 minutes.
  3. Using a mortar (lesong), pound the toasted coconut in small batches till it is an oily and sticky paste.

** If you squeezed the grated coconut to extract the milk (as it is done commercially), it will be harder to produce an oily kerisik. So, leave the milk in. One grated coconut can produce a bowl of kerisik. You only need 3 tablespoons for this recipe. Store the rest in the freezer for future use.

Mummy's Kitchen

Hi! My name is Josephine Go. I blog at in a segment called Mummy’s Kitchen. I love to use fresh and natural ingredients in my cooking to promote healthy eating. Some of my recipes may not be in line with the traditional methods of cooking to the extent that some of the ingredients are different, but hopefully new recipes are being created in my style. I certainly hope that what I do will help guide kitchen first-timers on how to cook their first meal as well as further equip kitchen veterans with new recipes. My loving husband and two wonderful children are my best guinea pigs and critics. They have enjoyed (or endured) the food that has been served to them for all these years. Mind you, I did not know how to cook or ever knew that I could cook till I got married. So there is hope for everyone. If I can cook, you can cook. You will not know how good or talented you are until you put your hand in the plough.

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