Rendang is a favourite dish in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Southern Philippines. This spicy meat dish was traditionally served by the Minangkabau tribe to honour special guests and on ceremonial occasions marking births and weddings.
The spice mix used in Rendang depends on its region. Coastal Rendang has stronger flavor and contains common curry spices due to coastal region being used as the spice-trading route for Indian traders. Meanwhile Rendang from Indonesian Islands is more minimalistic in flavour. Nevertheless, basic Rendang spices always include shallots, red chilies, ginger, galangal, lemongrass and turmeric leaf.
“When people of the Minangkabau region plan to cook, they will ask a monkey for help in picking coconuts.”
At the heart of Rendang sauce is the coconut – a quintessential ingredient of Malay cuisine. It takes 5 whole coconuts to cook approximately 1 kilo of Rendang meat. For an extra flavor, a few tablespoons of grated toasted coconut (Kerisik) could be added to the dish.
Rendang techniques slowly simmers cut chunks of meat in spiced coconut milk. The longer rendang is cooked, the better it taste and the darker the colour is.
Rendang is not only a meat dish. In Singapore and Malaysia people also cook Pigeon Rendang, Shellfish Rendang, Eel Rendang, Cattle Liver Rendang, Jackfruit Rendang and Banana Blossom Rendang just to name a few!
“Making Rendang is thus not just an art – it is also a philosophy!”
In Minangkabau culture Rendang has a philosophy which is seen from the material elements of the cuisine and the cooking of the Rendang.
The four main ingredients symbolize essential parts of Minangkabau society. Meat is a symbol of ‘Ninik Mamak’ – traditional tribal leaders, the elders and nobles. Coconut is a symbol of the intellectuals – teachers, poets and writers. Chili represents religious leaders as the heat of chili represents the strictness of religious law. Lastly, the combination of cooking spices symbolizes the whole of the Minangkabau society coming together for a celebration.
Pop into Banana Tree and try it yourself!