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.

Rendang Ayam (Spiced Chicken Rendang) 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.
Yield: serves 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 (3-4-lb.) chicken, cut into 8 pieces by your butcher
  • 5 dried chiles de arbol, 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 sticks cinnamon
  • 2 12 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. 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 14 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 12-2 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.