Indonesian Rendang Chicken Curry

Rendang Curry with Chicken over rice

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 60 mins
Total: 80 mins
Servings: 3 to 4 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
341 Calories
15g Fat
13g Carbs
39g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 3 to 4
Amount per serving
Calories 341
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 15g 20%
Saturated Fat 11g 53%
Cholesterol 99mg 33%
Sodium 1782mg 77%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 39g
Vitamin C 3mg 17%
Calcium 87mg 7%
Iron 5mg 27%
Potassium 615mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Originated many hundreds of year ago by the Minang people in the Minangkabau Highlands of Indonesia, bold and deep rendang preparations are stews filled with spices and flavor. Traditionally made with beef, rendang chicken, and even lamb or goat, it is one of Indonesia's most beloved dishes and has traveled to surrounding areas to be adopted by other cuisines. The equally delicious Thai version honors the original Indonesian cooking methods but adds its own classic curry ingredients. The chicken cooks in a mixture of aromatics, coconut milk, spices, and sweet and savory ingredients that infuse the chicken with the perfect balance of savory, sour, sweet, and spicy.

Not considered a curry in Indonesia, rather thought of more as a stew, the Thai version is also very thick. 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. Not typically a very hot dish, its level of spice can be adjusted to your own taste using more or fewer red chilies. Serve it with Jasmine rice, coconut rice, or flatbread to scoop out the sauce.

Although they're not included, this recipe is often made with additional vegetables that add bulk and texture. If you're doubling the ingredients to make more servings, we definitely recommend adding vegetables which will add volume and flavor. Use broccoli or cauliflower florets, bean sprouts, snap peas, carrots, corn, eggplant, or bok choy.

Ingredients

For the Sauce:

  • 1/2 can coconut milk

  • 2 tablespoons lemongrass, finely chopped

  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered

  • 4 cloves garlic

  • 1 thumb-size piece galangal, or ginger

  • 1 to 3 red chili pepper

  • 3/4 tablespoon tamarind paste

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce

  • 4 tablespoons fish sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric

  • 1 heaping tablespoon ground coriander

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 teaspoon shrimp paste, or an additional tablespoon fish sauce

For the Chicken:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, or thighs; cut into pieces

  • Optional: 2 pods star anise

For Serving:

  • Optional: Fresh cilantro, for garnishing

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make Rendang chicken curry

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Place all sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process well to form a thick curry paste. If you don't have a food processor, finely chop the onion and herbs and combine them with the coconut milk, spices, and other ingredients.

    A food processor with sauce for rendang chicken curry

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Place the sauce in a wok or pot over medium-high heat and add the chicken pieces and the whole star anise pods, if using. Mix well to combine. Stir occasionally as you bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Do not cover, as you want the sauce to reduce and become thicker.

    A pan with chicken and rendang curry sauce cooking

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Allow the curry to simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes, or until chicken is cooked and tender. The sauce will reduce so that it is almost like a coating on the meat, but there will be a little sauce leftover in the pan.

    A pan with reduced randang curry sauce and cooked chicken

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Serve directly from the wok into individual plates. Garnish with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro, if desired.

    A pan pf randang chicken curry with cilantro on top

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Enjoy!

Can I Make Rendang Chicken in the Slow Cooker?

It's very easy to make this recipe in the slow cooker. Simply blend the sauce ingredients and place them in the slow cooker. Add the chicken pieces and the star anise, if using. Set the slow cooker for 3 to 3.5 hours on high, stirring occasionally. Place the lid askew for the final 40 minutes of cooking time so the moisture has enough time to evaporate and turn thicker.

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