Rendang Ayam Pah (Pah’s Chicken Rendang)

It was Raya earlier this month, and as usual, with Raya comes ‘all the food from home that I miss’. Chicken Rendang is chicken simmered in coconut milk with spices. It takes a long time to cook, but oh my its worth the wait. It smells heavenly and the coconut, lemongrass and ginger infused chicken melts in your mouth.

And not to mention the chilli spicy bomb! (Although you can make it as hot or as mild as you want). Traditionally, back home in Malaysia, we usually eat this rendang during Raya at my grandmother’s house (Pah. Its her recipe!) and it is served with lemang (glutinous rice cooked in bamboo.) and ketupat. I usually make a lot of this scrumptious chicken heaven whenever I can find the fresh ingredients (which is not as often as my husband would like). Its my signature dish (and nasi lemak) when my in-laws come to town from far-away Thessaloniki.

Be prepared. Have a big pot ready. A book or something to keep you occupied during the long intervals. And music or an audiobook to keep you company while you chop and slice. And lots of patience. The slicing and chopping takes a LOT of time, (and quite a few tears with the shallots, mind you)

Ingredients: (Makes enough for a dinner party of 6 people, with leftovers, if you’re lucky.)

1.5-2kg of chicken, in pieces, with the bone.
1 can of coconut milk
1 small box of coconut cream

The Rendang Holy Trinity
100g of fresh lemongrass, chopped/sliced thinly.
100g of fresh ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks.
250g of shallots, sliced thinly into strips.

2-3 tbsp heaps full of Kerisik
Salt to taste.
Some water.
Simple chilli sambal paste, according to how lucky you’re feeling today, punk. I use 3-4 tbsp myself, depends how spicy the chillies are.


  1. Music? Check. Big pot on the stove? Check. Ingredients are all prepared? Check.
  2. In the pot, add the coconut milk, the trinity, and the chilli sambal paste.
  3. Stir, and then add the chicken pieces into the mix.
  4. If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the chicken pieces, add some until chicken is covered, and stir.
  5. Add salt.
  6. Turn on the burner, and let simmer on medium low heat so as not to burn the bottom of the pot.
  7. Check often and stir when you can.
  8. Once the chicken has cooked and become soft, to prevent the meat from coming off the bone, take the pieces out, one by one, with a pair of tongs (it’s very helpful!). Put them in heatproof dish, and keep them somewhere warm – a slightly heated oven would do nicely. You are not going to be baking a cake, so the temperature doesn’t have to be high.
  9. The yummy golden broth in the pot needs reducing. Gently, does it. On low heat, simmer while stirring every now and again to prevent sticking at the bottom of the pot.
  10. Once reduced, add the coconut cream and cook until you can see the top turns shiny and glistening with coconut oil. This is what we call ‘pecah minyak’, the breaking of the oil.
  11. Add the Kerisik to the pot at this point. Stir.
  12. Return the chicken pieces to the golden sauce, and mix through.
  13. Now be vigilant, and patient. Coat and toss and stir until the sauce has reduced even more, and lovingly coating and turning the chicken into that golden amber hue you see in the picture. Warning, this mixture now burns easily.
  14. Now rejoice in your endeavour, and serve.

Serving suggestions:

  • I usually make Nasi Lemak and serve the rendang with it. It goes really well, and to prevent spicy chilli overload, I serve it with my Pomegranate and Cucumber Mint Raita.
  • Or serve it with plain steamed rice, so you can savour the flavours of the rendang and not get clogged arteries as a result of coconut milk overload.
  • With lemang and ketupat, of course.

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