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. 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.
- 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 Chicken:
- 1 lb. chicken pieces
- Optional: 2 star anise (whole, available at Asian food stores)
- 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.
Do a taste test for salt and spice, adding more fish sauce if not salty enough. If not spicy enough, add more fresh chili or chili sauce. If too sour, add a little more brown sugar.
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.