What is Rendang?
The rendang is the best known of Indonesian food. It is a kind of curry cooked for long hours after marinating in a mixture of spices. This recipe originates from Sumatra, Indonesia. Precisely from the Minangkabau region, a region located in the highlands of West Sumatra. The population of Minangkabau tribe there is predominantly Muslim. This culinary delicacy that is rendang is also present in many countries in Southeast Asia such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.
The Malaysian book Hikayat Amir Hamzah dating from the 16th century already mentions this culinary specificity. The popularity of rendang in Southeast Asia is due to the fact that the Minangkabau culture is matriarchal. As men have no real place in society, they have a habit for wandering. They settle for a few years before returning to their native village. They are rich in experiences. This is one of the reasons why there are many Padang restaurants all over Indonesia. On the other hand, the Minangkabau are great traders.
The origin of Rendang
At the time, to cross the Strait of Malacca between Sumatra and Malaysia, the journey could be long. The rendang, a dish that can be stored at room temperature, was therefore one of the bases of the diet. We now better understand the success of such a dish.
The basic ingredient of rendang is beef. The cooking process is to cook beef with spices and coconut milk in sufficient quantities. Traditionally, they cook it on the firewood stove. The cooking process need 3-4 hours for obtain a delicious taste. The classic rendang is dark brown. The mixture of spices used in the marinade is called pemakak in Minangkabau. These spices contain anti-microbial properties that allow the dish to keep for about 4 weeks if cooked properly and up to six months if you have a refrigerator.
The fame of rendang caught the attention of British celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. He visited West Sumatra on May 2020 to filming the television program “Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted”, National Geographic. William Wongso, an Indonesian culinary expert, became Gordon Ramsay’s mentor to learn about the culture and cuisine of West Sumatra, especially rendang.
Not only that, n 2011 the fame of rendang was crowned as rank first on CNN International’s 50 Most delicious dishes in the world.
Festive dish in Minangkabau
In Indonesia, rendang ussually eat with white rice and vegetable dishes.. It is a festive dish serve on the occasion of religious ceremonial or important ceremonies such as marriage or circumcision. Beside the traditional event, it also a menu choice when processing abundant sacrificial meat during eid al-fitr adha and a special dish for eid al-fitr
As always in Indonesia, there is a symbol in everything. The components of this dish all have cultural and spiritual significance:
The meat represents the chiefs of clan or the nobles.
Coconut milk represents intellectuals, teachers, poets and writers.
The pepper symbolizes religion, the spiciness representing the Sharia.
The mixture of spices symbolizes the company Minangkabau.
Where you find the Rendang in the World?
Of course in Indonesia. It easy to find Padang restaurant (West Sumatera identical with Padang) in various cities in Indonesia. So, when you come to Indonesia, don’t fotget add the Rendang on your list.
Indonesian restaurant in US
When you are in Seattle, you can visit Indocafe Restaurant to get a plate of Nasi Rendang. But, the most delicious rendang with the most complete side dishes in the United States is at Simpang Asia restaurant in Los Angeles. In Tulsa, Oklahoma there is an Indonesia Restaurant named Rendang & Co.