Tasha is a friend of Make Kit and has contributed this recipe to our recipe library. Read her story of where this recipe comes from below.
Rendang is probably the best known of Malaysian curries, and deservedly so. It’s fragrant, rich and pungent. Traditionally rendang is served on special occasions such as Hari Raya (Eid), when a cow is ritually slaughtered and then cooked for the whole village. It’s usually made with beef or chicken and cooked for hours over a gentle heat to tenderise the meat, although in this vegan version, the deep, caramel flavours come from the natural oils released from the creamed coconut released in the browning.
This recipe originally came from a close family friend, who is an excellent cook but a terrible recipe writer. Like many excellent home cooks, she never writes recipes down or even has a sense of how much stuff goes in. ‘How much coconut milk do you use for this?’ ‘Oh you know, secukup [just enough].’ So one day on a visit to Malaysia, I followed her around the kitchen like a shadow and weighed and measured every ingredient before she was allowed to use it. She thought I was being pedantic but it was the only way I was going to get a recipe approaching accuracy!
Eating out is serious business in Malaysia, and people will drive for hours to get the best fried chicken or curry noodles or nasi lemak as recommended by their friend’s sister’s brother-in-law. Likewise, people guard their family recipes closely, so it’s a great honour to be let in on the secret of this rendang. There are probably as many versions of rendang as there are states in Malaysia, and maybe even a different one for every Malaysian mother, aunty and grandmother – everyone has their own interpretation on it. Coconut milk, lemongrass and chillies are just about the only common ingredients; beyond that, tradition, culture and personal preference take over.
This recipe is characteristic of the Minangkabau region of Negeri Sembilan, the state I grew up in. The Minangkabaus migrated to Malaysia from Sumatra in Indonesia in the 15th century and brought with them a cuisine characterised by fragrant aromatics and fresh flavours. The Minangkabaus tend not to use curry spices in their cooking, relying on herbs and roots such as lemongrass, turmeric, galangal and ginger for flavour.
For this recipe we’re cooking the curry in 30 minutes, using tofu as a meat substitute, and utilising the caramelisation and natural oils released from the creamed coconut when cooked ‘dry’ to add to the richness of the dish. We add aubergine for added nutrition and serve with a pineapple and cucumber salad for a sweet and sour accompaniment.
120g Firm tofu (soya)
120g Brown basmati rice
1 tin Coconut milk (165ml)
40g Cream of coconut
1 tin Pineapple chunks in juice
1 MK rendang paste: 8g ginger, 2 garlic cloves, 1 seeded red chilli, ¼ tbsp dried chilli, ½ tsp turmeric, 1 lemongrass, 1 lime leaf
You need: cooking oil (coconut is good), water, salt and pepper, hot sauce or chilli if you like it spicy
1. Put the tofu between two plates and weigh something heavy on top. Press the tofu to remove any excess liquid.
2. Cut the tofu into 6 cubes and place in a bowl. Heat up 1 tbsp of cooking oil in a saucepan over a medium heat. Sprinkle the cornflour over the tofu cubes and shake them about so that the cubes become coated in cornflour. Place the tofu cubes into the saucepan and fry until lightly browned on all sides, around 4 minutes. Season with a little salt. Place on a plate to cool.
3. Boil a kettle of water. Zest the lime. Place the brown basmati rice into a saucepan with ¼ tsp of salt and the lime zest. Cover the rice with 300ml of water from the kettle. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
4. Chop the aubergine into 1 inch cubes. Slice the onion into half rings.
5. Heat up ½ tbsp of oil in the frying pan that had the tofu in. Add the diced aubergine and fry for 5 minutes with the lid on, shaking whilst cooking. Add the sliced onion and fry for 3 minutes.
6. Add the MK rendang paste and fry for 1 minute. Add the coconut milk and stir through. Simmer for 20 minutes.
7. Open the tin of pineapple, pour the pineapple juice into the curry. Prepare the salad by chopping the cucumber and pineapple, placing in a bowl and squeezing the lime juice over. Season to taste.
8. Grate the coconut cream. Heat up a seperate frying pan over a medium heat with no oil. Add the grated coconut and cook until lightly browned but not burnt. Once cooked add to the rendang. Gently stir through the cooked tofu. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
9. Serve the lime rice with the tofu and aubergine rendang curry and the cucumber and pineapple salad.
Tasha is a nutritional therapist and whole foods cook. Her passion lies in cooking and writing about food, especially the power of everyday food to heal the body and soul, and the simple joy of preparing food for loved ones. She coaches people to fall in love with cooking, hop out of bed with excitement every day and find the enthusiasm to do the things they adore with the people they love.
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Facebook: Tasha D’Cruz Nutrition