How To Make a Healthy Local Rendang? Follow This Recipe!

Warm, rich and bursting with spicy flavour, rendang is a hallmark of Southeast Asian cuisine.

Is rendang healthy? Generally, no. But can it be healthy? Yes!

Rendang’s main nutrition issue comes from its high saturated fat content.

Saturated fat can be found in animal fat, as well as tropical oils like coconut or palm oil.

Experts suggest limiting saturated fat intake as it has been linked to heart disease.

Rendang is typically made with fatty cuts of beef or chicken to keep the meat tender.

Additionally, an abundance of oil and coconut (in the form of coconut milk and dessicated coconut) is added in the cooking process to add flavour.

Combined, this results in a high fat content in general, and an especially high saturated fat content.

So, how do we make rendang healthy?

This recipe cuts the fat content of rendang by using lean meat (you can also use a vegetarian protein, like tempeh, to reduce the fat content even further).

It also omits the coconut milk and relies on dessicated coconut (kerisik) for flavour.

Lastly, the recipe uses no additional oil at all, using liquid to braise the meat and spices rather than fry them.

The result? A rendang dish that is 43% lower in fat and 40% lower in calories than original rendang!

You could also take it a step further and adjust the amounts of salt and palm sugar used to make it even healthier.

Healthy Rendang Recipe

Prep Time: 15 Minutes

Cook Time: 1 Hour 50 Minutes

Servings: 6

Spice Blend:

  • 2-3 tbsp chili paste
  • 8 shallots
  • 3 tbsp fresh ginger
  • 4 stalks lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp galangal
  • 1.5 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground fennel
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ½ tbsp black pepper
  • 2 star anise
  • 3 cloves

Blend all ingredients above in a blender until smooth.


  • 1 kg lean beef/chicken, sliced
  • Spice blend (see above)
  • ½ cup dessicated coconut (kerisik)
  • 3 tbsp Gula Melaka or palm sugar
  • 2 assam seeds
  • 5 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, pounded
  • 2 tbsp sliced ginger
  • Salt to taste

2. Add all remaining ingredients and continue to cook, stirring every few minutes to avoid burning on the bottom.

3. The rendang is ready when almost all the liquid has evaporated and the meat is tender and well-flavoured.

And that’s it! Healthy, warm, and oh-so-delicious rendang that you can enjoy guilt-free (with a heaping serving of vegetables!).

Finally, the answer to the question “Is rendang healthy?” can be a resounding “YES”!


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