Rendang Ayam (Spiced Chicken Rendang)
This flavorful Malaysian-style chicken curry is a braise in reverse: The chicken is cooked in coconut milk flavored with spices and begins to brown when most of the liquid cooks away, creating a beautifully caramelized exterior. This recipe first appeared in our October 2011 issue along with Jayanthi Daniel's article Hungry City.
Enlarge Image Credit: Todd ColemanSERVES 6–8
INGREDIENTS1 3–4-lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces by your butcher
5 dried chiles de árbol, stemmed and roughly chopped
3 shallots, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, interior layers finely chopped
1 3″-piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
1 2″-piece fresh or frozen turmeric, peeled and thinly sliced, or 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
3 tbsp. peanut oil
6 cardamom pods, cracked open
6 fresh or frozen kaffir lime leaves
4 whole star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
2 ½ cups coconut milk
1 tsp. sugar
Kosher salt, to taste
INSTRUCTIONS1. Cut chicken: Cut each breast crosswise into 3 pieces, and halve each thigh, drumstick, and wing piece, discarding wing tips, to produce 18 pieces total; set aside. Combine chiles, shallots, garlic, lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, and 1/4 cup water in a small food processor, and process until a smooth paste forms; set spice paste aside.
2. Heat oil in a 12″ nonstick skillet over medium heat; add cardamom, lime leaves, star anise, and cinnamon, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add spice paste, and cook, stirring often, until caramelized and the oil begins to separate from the paste, 8–10 minutes. Add coconut milk, sugar, and salt, and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring, until reduced by a third, about 20 minutes. Add chicken, stirring to coat in sauce, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is the consistency of thick pea soup, about 1 ½–2 hours.
3. Continue to cook, stirring constantly to prevent sauce and chicken from burning, until sauce and chicken turn a dark caramel color and the sauce coats the chicken, about 20 minutes. Discard whole spices before serving.
**Correction: September 27, 2011An earlier version of this recipe misstated the amount of water added to the food processor for the paste. The correct amount is 1/4 cup, not 14 cup. The recipe has been corrected to reflect this.