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Chicken Rendang – Malaysian Coconut Curry Chicken

Chicken Rendang – Malaysian Coconut Curry Chicken

This Chicken Rendang recipe is a popular spicy curry dish that we discovered during a recent visit to Malaysia. The slow cooked chicken is bathed in exotic spices and creamy coconut milk. It is and finished with a dark and nutty coconut paste called Kerisik.

While traditionally chicken rendang is prepared with chicken on the bone, we also like to prepare it with cubes of chicken breast. This makes for easier eating – no knife needed!

Chicken Rendang proved out everything that we had heard about the incredible food of Malaysia. CNN actually put this dish on the top of its list of “50 of the World’s Most Delicious Foods

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Chicken Rendang Recipe

Rendang is also often made with other cuts of meat, such as beef or lamb.  This dish is a special occasion recipe because it does take some time to prepare, particularly if you make the toasted coconut paste yourself.

Luckily there are some prepackaged products (Kerisik) that are available to use in a pinch.

If you love chicken recipes cooked in coconut milk, also try this delicious Filipino Chicken Adobo! A classic recipe for good reasons.

Interested in trying some other great Malaysian recipes? Check out some of our favorites:

Ingredients for 4 Servings

Yield: 4 Servings

Chicken Rendang - Malaysian Coconut Curry Chicken


Chicken Rendang Recipe - a savory curry dish made with toasted coconut paste combined with coconut milk and fresh lemongrass and Kaffir lime leaves.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour


  • 4 Cups (800 g) Coconut Rice 
  • 4 Portions of Chicken Leg and or Thigh, Bone in, Skin on *
  • 4 Tablespoons (60 ml) Vegetable Oil
  • 4 Kaffir Lime Leaves ( or 1 teaspoon lime zest)
  • 2 Stalks of Lemongrass (remove woody outer portion and cut the stalk into 1 inch (2.5 cm) pieces
  • 1/2 Inch (2.5 cm) Galangal (or Fresh Ginger)
  • 1/4 Cup (60 ml) Tamarind Juice (or 2 Tablespoons (30 ml) Lemon or Lime Juice)
  • 2 Cups (50 ml) Coconut Milk
  • 4 Tablespoons (50g) Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup (112 g) Toasted Coconut Paste (Kerisik) -Recipe Below
  • 8 Dried Chilies, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes
  • 2 Fresh Long Red Chiles (or Serrano Chiles)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 8 Shallots



  1. Add the chilies, garlic, ginger, and shallots to a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Add the chili paste and sauté for 5 minutes, until the paste becomes fragrant.
  3. Place the chicken, lime leaves, galangal, lemongrass, tamarind juice, coconut milk, sugar and salt into a pot over medium heat. Continue to simmer for 30 to 40 minutes (15-20 minutes for cubed, boneless chicken) until the chicken is cooked through and the liquid has reduced and thickened.
  4. In the mean time, prepare the coconut curry paste.
  5. To make the Kerisik (toasted coconut paste) place 1 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut in a sauté pan or wok over medium heat. Continue to stir until the coconut reaches a rich dark brown color. Place the toasted coconut in a mortar and pestle and grind until it releases its oil and becomes a shiny paste. Or you can blend the coconut in a food processor. Note: To save time, kerisik, which is a staple in Malaysian Cuisine, is also available in Asian specialty stores.
  6. Add the coconut paste to the chicken and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes. Serve over coconut rice and garnish with traditionally with a hard boiled egg and cucumber slices, or as pictured, with red chili peppers and cilantro.


* Bone in chicken can be replaced with cubes of boneless, skinless chicken breast as well

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 525Total Fat 35gTrans Fat 0gCholesterol 138mgSodium 425mgCarbohydrates 10gSugar 2.9gProtein 45g

Nutritional Values are Estimates Only

A special thank you to The Tropic Spice Garden who provided us with the basis for this recipe. They also have cooking class where you can learn to make this and other wonderful Malaysian dishes.

Paul Odell

Friday 23rd of October 2020

Rendang is not a wet dish the meat is cooked dry after marinating. If you talk to the local people in the kampung,s they will put you right.Not so called chef's. This is with 20 years experience of living in Malaysia.


Wednesday 10th of June 2020

Hi Sean and Jen, I have made your recipe for Laksa paste and Laksa Curry. They were superb. So I decided to try the Chicken Rendang today. Whilst following instructions I find that you ask us to "Add the chilies, garlic, ginger, and shallots to a food processor and blend until smooth. Put aside". However, at no point do you tell us when to cook and add this shallot mixture. Please could you advise. Since I had already prepared the ingredients, I just went ahead and first cooked the onion paste and then moved to step 2. Please advise correct method. The Curry is not as brown as your photograph but tastes amazing. Also I could not find the link for the Coconut Rice. Please could you share it. Many thanks and look forward to hearing from you. Regards Anu

Justin Velthoen

Friday 4th of March 2016

Beautiful! That looks amazing =]

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