Speedy Rendang Ayam Pedas – Whip It UP!

Ayam Rendang Pedas (Speedy Spicy Chicken Rendang)

This Rendang Ayam Pedas (spicy rendang) is simply sedap! Culled from the Malay culinary chest, this is a heritage recipe that Agnes treasures because it’s so easy to cook and tastes authentic. Vaguely similar to the classic Rendang Ayam (Chicken Rendang), her version requires quick, light cooking where freshness is paramount in an aromatic curry that employs leaves harvested from backyard gardens and staple pantry ingredients. A great curry for beginners cooking rendang for the very first time! Serve it up for the ongoing Hari Raya celebrations!

Total Time: 1½ hours
Difficulty: 2/5
Cost: S$15.00

Serves: 4-5 persons

A: Main Ingredients

5 chicken legs, skin on, cut into 4-5 pieces each
125ml oil
3 tablespoons chilli paste (chilli boh)
10 medium shallots, peeled and sliced
10 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
3 stalks lemongrass (serai), white portion only, sliced
2cm ginger, thumb-size, peeled and julienned
4 cm galangal (lengkuas), peeled and julienned

B: Coconut Ingredients

3 tablespoons fried grated coconut paste (kerisik kelapa)
400ml coconut milk (santan), 2nd press

C: Aromatics For Shredding

6 medium turmeric leaves (daun kunyit), spine removed
6 kaffir lime leaves (daun limau purut), spine removed*

D: Seasoning

¾-1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar


1. Heat up wok or deep saucepan over medium high heat. Pour in oil. Sauté shallots until light brown and aromatic. Similarly, do the same for garlic. For lemongrass, ginger and galangal, stirfry each ingredient until the respective aroma wafts in the air.

2. Add chilli boh, continue cooking until spice paste turns thick and deep red. Season with salt and sugar to taste (see technique).

3. To cut each chicken leg into 4 pieces, separate each leg at its joint to get 2 separate pieces – thigh and drumstick. Next, chop each thigh and drumstick into 2 pieces. Alternatively, get the butcher or chicken vendor to chop up the chicken as required.

4. Add in chicken pieces. Cook until meat turns opaque before tossing in C ingredients.

5. Pour in coconut milk. Mix until incorporated. Add kerisik and mix well. Hot Tip: Don’t skip the kerisik – it is the all-essential umami flavour booster. See toasted brown bits on top of chicken in the image at the top.

6. Lower heat to medium low. Allow chicken to simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Taste it and adjust seasoning if required. Unlike the classic rendang where it is cooked until thick and paste-like, this version has a runny sauce.

7. Allow rendang to cool down. Let it sit overnight or even 2 days in the fridge for fuller flavours to develop. The sauce will thicken and become unctuous!

8. Serve with steamed rice, Nasi kunyit (turmeric-flavoured rice), Lepat kacang (Glutinous rice with black-eyed peas wrapped in young coconut leaves)- see below.

If you like, enjoy rendang with baguette or even pasta.

TIP: Choose lighter leaves that are less fibrous and easier to digest after cooking.

TECHNIQUE: Adding sugar and salt to the rempah is to season it. This will in turn accentuate the overall taste of the dish when flavours are allowed to develop overnight or longer. This rendang does not need prolonged cooking. The idea is a quick-cooking rendang where the herbal aroma of fresh leaves is the first note that the palate picks up.

Photos: Evonne Lyn Lee

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