For hundreds of years, Malay people has been foraging the natural goodness from their millions years old forest and came out with various kind of useful herbs and spices. Foraged herbs not only use for medical practices but some of them have been used in foods and drinks. Malay foods are synonymous with multiple usage of herbs, spices and above of all, the cuisine is best known for its richness and heartiness. The usage of coconut is eminent in most of its cuisine and can be found in all sorts of cooking like rendang, gulai and nasi lemak. Some of the herbs used in Malay cuisine can’t be found anywhere else in the WORLD *proud tone. One of them is “daun puding” (Grapthophyllum hortense). I don’t know what it is called in English, cause certainly it is not pudding leaf as if you translated the word using Mr Google (I looove Mr Google). Daun puding is a leaf from a tree that can be found ubiquitously across Malaysia, but apparently some of us don’t even know that the tree was called Pokok Puding Hitam.
Malays especially the ones that live in Negeri Sembilan (one of many other states in Malaysia) grow Puding tree in their backyards. The leaf of the tree is often used in their cooking especially rendang ayam ( chicken stew) and is known by locals for its mild laxative property. Daun puding is basically quite tasteless but it has this kind of hearty and calming aroma that make it suitable for Negeri Sembilan cooking (Malay people love aromatics in their cooking). My late granma made THE most delicious rendang ayam negeri sembilan EVER, and I learned this recipe from the best. Rendang Ayam Negeri Sembilan is basically a chicken stew that is cooked in coconut milk with spice blend consist of various kind of herbs and aromatics; making this dish to be as unique as it sounds. Rendang is a traditional Malay dish, prepared by millions of households (probably some of them are preparing their beloved rendang now as we speak lol) across Malaysia, but Rendang Ayam Negeri Sembilan is exceptionally different because of the use of distinctive secret ingredients (which will no longer be a secret as we speak now lol) that I’m about to revealed. Yeay!
- A whole chicken, cut into smaller pieces and clean (seekor ayam dipotong kecil dan dibersihkan)
- 6-7 puding leaves (6-7 helai daun puding)
- 3 kaffir lime leaves (3 helai daun limau purut)
- 1 tumeric leaf (sehelai daun kunyit)
- 100-200g of grated coconut flesh (100-200g kerisik)
- 1 liter of freshly squeezed coconut milk (1 liter santan segar)
- Salt and sugar for seasonings (garam dan gula secukup rasa)
- 1 inch of fresh ginger (seinci halia muda)
- 2 inches of galangga (2inci lengkuas)
- 10 shallots (10 biji bawang merah)
- 4 cloves of garlic (4 ulas bawang putih)
- 2 inches of fresh tumeric root (2 inci kunyit hidup)
- 25 bird’s eyes chilies (10 tangkai cili padi) –> you can lessen this if you can’t stand spicy food
- 10 dried chili, soaked and boild, remove the seeds (10 tangkai cili kering, direbus dan dibuang biji)
- 8 lemon grasses (8 tangkai serai)
- 4-5 dried candlenuts (4-5 biji buah keras) –> this is my granma secret blend
- First of all, we have to start toasting the grated coconut flesh to make “kerisik”. You need to fire up your pan under medium heat WITHOUT any oil, toast the grated coconut flesh until it browns (the aroma coming out from this process is out of the world,boy that’s why I LOVE cooking’!). Put them aside to rest
- Now its time to prepare the spice blend. Blend all of the spices into a very fine paste together with half of the toasted grated coconut flesh. Add a little bit of water to ease the blending process.
- Use half of the spice blend to marinate your chicken. Let it rest for half an hour for the chicken to marry together with your delicious aromatic spice blend. Another half of the spice blend you can start to saute in your pot until it turns fragrant.
- Once the spice blend has been sauteed, put your marinated chicken into the pot and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes. Stir accordingly.
- Then you can pour in your fresh coconut milk and bring it to simmer under gentle heat (NEVER cook coconut milk under high heat, it will certainly curdle and curd isn’t good at all). Together with that, you can throw in the kaffir lime leaves and turmeric leaves. You can start to season your dish with salt and sugar this time forward
- Let the stew cook for an hour with your lid on. When the stew starts to thicken (this stew should be dry, you should have a stew that can hardly has any gravy anymore), throw in the puding leaves and let it cooks for another 5-6 minutes.
- Now your Rendang Ayam Negeri Sembilan is done!!
This dish is best served with warm plain rice or nasi lemak. Old folks love to eat it with salted fish and sambal belacan. For me, it is best enjoy with any kind of sambal and remember this is a very hearty and rich dish, so if you are care about your waistline, eat it in a small amount. Have a try! Your be lovin’ it