Indonesian cuisine has always been influential in Thai cooking. One of the more popular Indonesian dishes in Thailand and throughout Asia is rendang chicken or beef curry. Note that rendang is considered a "dry" curry, which means the sauce is simmered down to a minimum. Because it is so distilled, the sauce sticks to the meat, making this dish incredibly flavorful. As a bonus, its wide variety of spices makes it extremely healthy. If you like your curry with an abundance of flavor, you'll love rendang!
- For the Sauce:
- 1/2 can coconut milk (good-quality)
- 2 tbsp. lemongrass (fresh, finely chopped, can also be purchased frozen at Asian food stores)
- 1 onion (peeled and quartered)
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 thumb-size piece galangal (or ginger)
- 1 to 3 red chilies (depending on how hot you like your curry (de-seeded if less heat is desired, or 1/3 to 3/4 tsp. dry chili flakes)
- 3/4 tbsp. tamarind paste
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tsp. soy sauce (dark)
- 4 tbsp. fish sauce
- 1/2 tsp. turmeric
- 1 heaping tbsp. coriander (ground)
- 1 tbsp. cumin (ground)
- 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp. cloves
- 1 tsp. shrimp paste (available by the jar at Asian food stores, or add 1 tbsp. more fish sauce)
- For the Dish:
- 1 lb. chicken pieces
- Optional: 2 star anise (whole, available at Asian food stores)
- For the Garnish:
- Optional: coriander (fresh cilantro leaves)
Place all sauce ingredients in a food processor. Process well to form a thick curry paste. If you don't have a food processor, simply chop onion and herbs finely and combine with the coconut milk, spices, and other ingredients. These herbs and spices can also be ground together with a pestle and mortar.
Place sauce in a wok or pot over medium-high heat. Add chicken pieces plus the whole star anise, if using, and stir well. Continue stirring occasionally as you bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer. Do not cover, as you want the sauce to reduce and become thicker.
Allow the curry to simmer, stirring occasionally, for up to 1 hour, or until chicken is cooked and tender. The sauce will reduce so that it is almost like a coating on the meat (plus there will be a little sauce leftover in the pan).
Serve directly from the wok with any extra sauce poured over. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh coriander, if desired. Serve with Thai jasmine-scented rice or easy Thai coconut rice. This dish can also be served with flat bread.