What is Rendang?

All you need to know about the signature Minang dish from Indonesia

By Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Written by Reno Andam Suri (Rendang Traveler)

Rendang Minang Legacy to the World by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Rendang : A Minang legacy to the world

The slow cooked dish originated from West Sumatra is rich with spices and cooked with love. Rendang is the champion of Minang food. The protein stew drenched in deep oily red and brown gravy is known as Rendang. 

Traditional kitchen in West Sumatra by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

A slow cooking process

Contrary to popular belief, rendang itself is not a dish, it is a slow cooking process unique to Minang culture in vaporizing water contents in the mixture of ingredients by constant stirring over a low heat. 

This is a typical traditional kitchen setting in West Sumatra where a rendang is made. Wooden fire is used over a cauldron that sits on balance on three blocks of stacked stones. 

A plate of Rendang (2021) by Indonesiaeats, Pepy NasutionIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Road to reach Rendang

Marandang to reach Rendang could take up to 7 hours and will go through 3 check points of doneness.  But the best part of this cooking journey? On each check points you already can have a meal and each time will give you a deeper tastebud experience to the dish! 

Getting to know Rendang by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Check point 1 : Gulai

This is the first stop when all the blended spices are all mixed in the coconut milk and boiled. You can add your protein (yes, even plant based protein) at this check point. Traditionally it could be cassava leaves, cassava, or beef, fish, clams, chicken and duck. 

Kalio (2021) by Indonesiaeats, Pepy NasutionIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Check point 2 : Kalio

Now that we are more than half way the journey, the Kalio is shown through coconut milk thickness that the coconut oil started oozing and boiling. 

Rendang Lokan by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Final check point 3 : .. and we reached Rendang!

Now we have reached the final check point, Rendang. There are two types of doneness of Rendang : First is where it is still reddish in color and second is where it is darker in color, the perfect Rendang, where absolutely all the water content is all vaporized.

Rendang Spice Blend Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

What spices are inside a Rendang dish ?

The ingredients includes coconut, chillies and a magical blend of of shallots, garlic, ginger, galangal, turmeric, turmeric leaves and citrus leaves. 

Coconut Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

The key to a great rendang is to choose older coconut so it oozes plenty of oil during cooking process. For every kilogram of protein, 3-5 coconut would be used for the dish. 

Grated coconut by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Grated coconut

The assorted coconut, the older the coconut the better taste Rendang will have.

Rendang Ingredients (2013) by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Traditionally Minang women in West Sumatra would crush these chillies utilising stone made mortar and pestle. At the markets there are stalls specifically offers service to crush chillies of consumers choice. 

Chilli Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Rendang Spice Blend Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Shallots

GingerIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Fresh ginger

GalangalIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Fresh galangal

TurmericIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Fresh turmeric roots and turmeric leaves

To add flavor and bright orange color, they added freshly 

Rendang Ingredients (2013) by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

The magical blend of spices

All of the spices are then blended into one using stone made mortar and pestle. And the spice blend would be ready to use.

Rendang Spice Blend Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

A hint of Kaffir lime leaves (Citrus hystrix)

Assorted Kaffir lime leaves (without its stem) to balance mixture of coconut milk and other spice blends. 

See more about how Rendang is eaten in its native culture

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