indonesian rendang curry

i love asian food. for me, it's not just about the heat (though i do like chilli) but about the balance and complexity of flavour. i especially like malaysian and indonesian dishes, sweetened with coconut and slightly sour from the tamarind and fish sauce. i realise that much of this food does in fact contain sugar but i genuinely don't think you notice it's not there in highly spiced dishes like this.

rendang curry is not like the 'wet' thai curries most people make when they use coconut milk. it's pretty dry as the sauce cooks for almost an hour and ends up clinging to the meat or veg.

i have no idea how authentic this recipe is (i nicked the basis of it from a random website) but it tasted like the Curry To End All Curries. r liked it, claiming the flavour built up slowly and saying it was nothing like those curries that promise so much but then fail to deliver the punch. personally, i thought it was like one of those curries that make you sweat garlic and ginger through every pore the next day. in a good way, obviously.

when you start adding the spices to the blender, you'll probably double-check the recipe to make sure i really did mean to include all of them. i do.

this would work really well with chicken, jointed and on the bone - it can cook for an hour in the sauce. i made it with butternut squash and prawns, as another fridge-cleaning exercise before going to edinburgh for the weekend. i guess you can skip the meat altogether and make a veggie version.

for two, when you're feeling very greedy. i was convinced there'd be some left to freeze. i realise now how laughable that idea was. like much of paleo food, to me at least, this tastes like it should be bad for you so you eat more when you realise it isn't.

1/2 can coconut milk
2 tbs olive oil
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves garlic
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
1-3 red chillies, i used one fresh (didn't bother de-seeding) and one dry
3/4 tbs tamarind paste
2 tsp dark soy sauce
4 tbs fish sauce
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 heaped tbs ground coriander seeds
1 tbs ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 tsp shrimp paste or use a little more fish sauce
2 whole star anise

1 butternut squash, cubed
250g raw prawns
2 pak choi, sliced

for the garnish:
a few chives
dessicated coconut

pretty simple stuff, this. basically, put all sauce ingredients in a blender, except the star anise, and blend till you have a smooth paste. it ends up being the thickness of double cream. taste and see if it needs more of anything. i thought mine tasted too sweet and coconutty so i added a little more fish sauce.

put the sauce in a wok or a big pan with the star anise, and put whatever veg or meat you are using. if you're using something that cooks quickly, put it in later. squash was perfect because it takes 45 or so minutes to cook on the stove top.

bring the sauce to the boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for at least half an hour. the sauce should thicken and reduce by a fair bit. stir every now and again. add the pak choi after 30 mins and cook for another 15 or 20. if your sauce is getting too thick, add a bit of water or stock to loosen it. add the prawns and cook for another 2 minutes or until they turn pink.

to serve, garnish with some snipped chives and a sprinkling of coconut, or some finely chopped coriander leaves.


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