Authentic Padang rendang is dark in color and rather dry, served with ketupat
|Alternative name(s)||Randang (Minangkabau dialect)|
|Place of origin||Indonesia|
|Region or state||Minangkabau, West Sumatra|
|Serving temperature||Hot or room temperature|
|Main ingredient(s)||Meat (beef, lamb or goat), coconut milk, chili, ginger, galangal, turmeric, lemon grass, garlic, shallot, chilli pepper|
|Variations||Chicken rendang, Itiak (duck) rendang, liver rendang|
Rendang is a spicy meat dish which originated from the Minangkabau ethnic group of Indonesia, and is now commonly served across the country. One of the characteristic foods of Minangkabau culture, it is served at ceremonial occasions and to honour guests. Also popular in Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, the southern Philippines and southern Thailand, rendang is traditionally prepared by the Indonesian community during festive occasions. Culinary experts often describe rendang as: 'West Sumatra caramelized beef curry'. In 2011 an online poll by 35,000 people held by CNN International chose Rendang as the number one dish of their 'World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods' list.
Composition and cooking method 
Rendang is rich in spices. Along with the main meat ingredient, rendang uses coconut milk (Minangkabau: karambia) and a paste of mixed ground spices, which includes ginger, galangal, turmeric leaves, lemon grass, garlic, shallot, chillies and other spices. This spice mixture is called pemasak in Minangkabau. The spices garlic, shallot, ginger and galangal used in rendang have antimicrobial properties and serve as natural organic preservatives. If cooked properly, dry rendang can last for as long as four weeks.
Traditional Padang rendang takes hours to cook (usually four hours). Cooking rendang is time-consuming and requires patience. The meat pieces are slowly cooked in coconut milk and spices at precisely the right temperature until almost all the liquid is gone, allowing the meat to absorb the condiments. The cooking process changes from boiling to frying as the liquid evaporates. The slow cooking process allows the meat to absorb all the spices and to become tender. During the process, the meat should be slowly and carefully stirred in the spicy coconut milk mixture and turned over without burning or ruining the meat — well until all the liquids have evaporated. Because of its generous use of numerous spices, rendang is known for having a complex and unique taste.
Rendang is often served with steamed rice, ketupat (a compressed rice cake), or lemang (glutinous rice barbecued in bamboo tubes), accompanied with vegetable side dishes such as boiled cassava leaf, cubadak (young jackfruit gulai), cabbage gulai, and lado (red or green chilli pepper sambal).
Nasi rames rendang served with steamed rice, cabbage gulai, green sambal, and gulai sauce
Cultural significance 
Rendang is revered in Minangkabau culture as an embodiment of the philosophy of musyawarah, discussion and consultation with elders. The four main ingredients represent Minangkabau society as a whole:
- The meat (dagiang) symbolizes the Niniak Mamak, the traditional clan leaders, such as the datuk, the nobles, royalty and revered elders.
- The coconut milk (karambia) symbolizes the Cadiak Pandai, intellectuals, teachers, poets and writers.
- The chili (lado) symbolizes the Alim Ulama, clerics, ulama and religious leaders. The hotness of the chili symbolizes sharia.
- The spice mixture (pemasak) symbolizes the rest of Minangkabau society.
In Minangkabau tradition, rendang is a pre-requisite dish for special occasions in traditional Minang ceremonies, from birth ceremonies to circumcision, marriage, and Quran recitals, and is served to honor special guests.
In Malay traditions such as those of the west coast of Sumatra or the Malay Peninsula, rendang is a special dish served at various traditional ceremonies, circumcision, marriage, and religious festivals such as Eid ul-Fitr and Eid ul-Adha. Rendang is mentioned in classical Malay literature as early as the 1550s in Hikayat Amir Hamzah.
The origin of rendang could be traced to Sumatran Minangkabau region. For Minangkabau people, rendang has been part of their daily life and traditional ceremony beyond historical records. The rendang making spread to regional Malay culture, to Mandailing, Riau, Jambi, across the strait to Malacca and Negeri Sembilan where large numbers of overseas Minangkabau resides. Today rendang is considered as local dish in both Sumatra and Malay peninsula.
Andalas University historian, Prof. Gusti Asnan suggests that rendang began to spread across the region when Minangkabau merchants and migrant workers began to trade and migrate to Malacca in 16th century. “Because the journey through the river waterways in Sumatra took much time, a durable preserved dry rendang is suitable for long journey.” The dried Padang rendang is known as a durable food. It is well preserved and good to consume for months even left in room temperature, a perfect travelling logistics for a long journey.
The popularity of rendang is widely spread across its original domain because of the merantau (migrating) culture of Minangkabau people. The overseas Minangkabau leave their hometown to start a career in other Indonesian cities as well as neighboring countries. They work in offices, trade textiles, start their own businesses, and some might open a Padang restaurant, a Minangkabau eating establishment that is ubiquitous in every Indonesian city. These Padang restaurants are credited for introducing and popularizing rendang and other Padang food dishes across Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and even as far as Europe and United States.
In Minangkabau culinary tradition, there are stages on cooking meat in spicy coconut milk. Its category is according to the liquid content in cooked coconut milk, ranges from the soupy most wet to the most dry: Gulai — Kalio — Rendang. The ingredients of gulai, kalio and rendang is almost identical with the exceptions that gulai usually uses less red chilli pepper and more turmeric, while rendang uses richer spices. If pieces of meat are cooked in spicy coconut milk and the process stopped right when the meat is done and the coconut milk has reached its boiling point, you have gulai. If the process continues well until the coconut milk is partly evaporated with brownish colored meats, then you have kalio. When the process continued hours more until the liquid completely evaporated and the color turns to dark brown almost black in color, then you have rendang. According to this notions, the real rendang is those with less liquid contents. The colors also indicate the differences; gulai have light yellow color, kalio is brown, and rendang is dark brown. However, today there are two kinds of rendangs commonly found: dried and wet.
Dried rendang 
According to Minangkabau tradition, the true rendang is the dry one. Rendang was diligently stirred, attended and cooked for hours until the coconut milk evaporates and the meats absorbs the spices perfectly. It is served for special ceremonial occasions or to honour guests. The dried rendang is dark brown and almost black in color. If cooked properly, dried rendang can last for three to four weeks stored in room temperature and still good to consume. It can even last months stored in a refrigerator, and up to six months if frozen. Among cuisine experts, it is widely believe that the authentic Minang rendang (Padang rendang) is the most delicious version: it has rich, succulent and unparalleled taste — quite different than rendang from other Malay realm.
Wet rendang or Kalio 
Wet rendang, or more accurately identified as kalio, is a type of rendang that cooked in shorter period, where the coconut milk has not completely evaporated. If stored in room temperature, kalio would last less than a week. Kalio usually has a light golden brown color, paler than dry rendang.
Outside of its native land in Minangkabau, rendang is also known in neighboring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. Malaysian rendang is more like kalio, which is lighter in color and taste compared to its Minang counterpart. Malaysian rendang, by its different cooking techniques, yields different tastes and has several variants, such as Kelantan rendang and Negeri Sembilan rendang. Malaysian rendangs are cooked in shorter periods, and uses kerisik (toasted grated coconut paste) to thicken the spice, instead of hours of painstakingly stirring and evaporating coconut milk as its Indonesian counterpart. Nonetheless, in Malaysia, the Rendang Tok version of the state of Perak can be considered a dry one.
Other ethnic groups in Indonesia also have adopted rendang into their daily diet, which is quite different to authentic Minang rendang. For example, in Java, other than Padang rendang sold in Padang restaurants, the Javanese cooked wet rendang slightly sweeter and less spicy to accommodate the Javanese taste in their home. Through historical ties of colonialism, the Dutch are also familiar with rendang and often serve it in the Netherlands — as the wet kalio version — usually served as part of Rijsttafel.
Rendang is made from beef (or occasionally beef liver, chicken, mutton, water buffalo, duck, or vegetables like jackfruit or cassava). Chicken or duck rendang also contains tamarind and is usually not cooked for as long as beef rendang. Other Rendang variations:
- Rendang daging: meat rendang, the most common rendang is made from meat of various cattle product; beef, water buffalo, goat, mutton or lamb
- Rendang ayam: chicken rendang
- Rendang itiak or Rendang bebek: duck rendang
- Rendang hati: cattle liver rendang
- Rendang talua or Rendang telur: eggs rendang, specialty of Payakumbuh
- Rendang paru: cattle lung rendang, specialty of Payakumbuh
- Rendang tok: a slightly curried rendang, a regional variation in Perak, Malaysia
- Owen, Sri (1993). The Rice Book. Doubleday. ISBN 0-7112-2260-6.
- Taylor, Jean Gelman (2003). Indonesia: Peoples and Histories. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. p. 46. ISBN 0-300-10518-5.
- Lipoeto, Nur I; Agus, Zulkarnain; Oenzil, Fadil; Masrul, Mukhtar; Wattanapenpaiboon, Naiyana; Wahlqvist, Mark L (February 2001). "Contemporary Minangkabau food culture in West Sumatra, Indonesia". Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Blackwell Synergy) 10 (1). doi:10.1046/j.1440-6047.2001.00201.x. PMID 11708602.
- Indonesia Proud: William Wongso: Duta Rendang di Dunia Kuliner Internasional
- World’s 50 Most Delicious Foods by CNN GO.
- Winiati Pudji Rahayu, Aktivitas Antimikroba Bumbu Masakan Tradisional Hasil Olahan Industri Terhadap Bakteri Patogen Perusak
- Rendang Padang, Ikon Masakan Indonesia Hadir di Pameran Wisata Berlin
- Female Kompas.com: Rendang, Hidangan Terlezat di Dunia
- Gulai Cubadak | Green Jackfruit Gulai Recipe | Online Indonesian Food and Recipes at IndonesiaEats.com
- Kompasiana: Arti Masakan Rendang Minangkabau
- Hikayat Amir Hamzah, A. Samad Ahmad
- Hikayat Amir Hamzah.
- Malay concordance project
- Urang Minang.com Inilah Rendang Minang Juara dunia itu
- Kompasiana: Dian Kelana: Gulai, Kalio, atau Rendang?
- Rendang Uni Farah : Bikin Rendang Tahan Lebih Lama
- Owen, Sri (1999). Indonesian Regional Food and Cookery. Frances Lincoln Ltd. ISBN 0-7112-1273-2.
- http://www.peraktourism.com/planning_your_visit/index.cfm?temp=rendang_tok&heritage1=try Rendang Tok - Perak Tourism
See also 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Rendang|
|Wikibooks Cookbook has a recipe/module on|