Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegan MoFo - R is for Rendang Nangka

R was a difficult letter because I couldn't decide what to make. Rice paper rolls were my original idea as I have wanted to make them for a long time and then I thought about making a risotto but that seemed a little mundane. On the morning I was due to cook something for R, I read this interesting post on I Eat Grains! about how green jackfruit has a very meaty texture and neutral taste and decided to try it out in a Rendang curry. I even stumbled across a rendang recipe using jackfruit in my copy of World Vegetarian Classics by Celia Brooks Brown.

World Vegetarian Classics contains chapters of regions around the world and each chapter starts with a page about an expert in the regions cuisine. I was interested to find that the expert for South-East Asia was Sri Owen, a cookbook author that Cindy and Michael from Where's the Beef have been posting about in recent times. Cindy and Michael have posted a Sri Owen recipe for rendang using tempeh instead of beef which apart from being doubled in quantities looked very similar to the ingredients in my cookbook. The main difference between these recipes was the latter part of the method.

Cindy and Michael mentioned a few tweaks they would make next time around which was to increase the ingredients in the spice paste and/or reduce the amount of coconut so I took this on board and altered the World Vegetarian Classics recipe a bit. I used the stated amount of chilli but decided the leave the seeds in to make it spicier, increased the shallots, garlic, ginger and galangal and cut back on the coconut milk a little.

Reducing the coconut milk decreased the cooking time by about 30 minutes which was fantastic as the curry still took a good 2 hours to cook. The initial preparation doesn't take very long but once that is out of the way, it's just a matter of stirring every now and then. After about an hour, a crust develops on the bottom of your pot which you need to scrape off a few times and mix in with the sauce. These crusty bits were a highlight of the curry as they contained so much flavour.

The man and I were so impressed with the jackfruit in this rendang, my son was a little less enthused about the jackfruit but still liked the curry. The texture of the jackfruit was rather meaty and the pieces were mostly intact after 2 hours of cooking. I think jackfruit is a great mock meat alternative for gluten and/or soy free people and it's something I will use more often, perhaps in my "butter chicken" next time. You can find green jackfruit in tins at asian groceries but be aware that they also sell ripened jackfruit in syrup which is sweeter and softer and wouldn't produce the same result.

The rendang was served with basmati rice and choy sum steamed with minced garlic drizzled with a touch of sesame oil at the end.

Click here to see my A - Z of Vegan MoFo posts.

Rendang Nangka (Adapted from World Vegetarian Classics with some tips taken from Where's the Beef)

4 shallots, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
3cm piece of ginger, roughly chopped
3 red chillies, roughly chopped
1cm piece galangal, roughly chopped
2 x 400ml tins coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 bay leaf
1 stalk lemongrass, outer layer removed
1 teaspoon salt
2 x 540g tins green jackfruit in brine, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Place the shallots, garlic, ginger, chillies and galagal into a blender with about 1/4 cup of the coconut milk and process until smooth. Pour the blender mixture into a large pot along with the rest of the coconut milk, turmeric, bay leaf, lemongrass, salt and jackfruit and bring to the boil.

Lower the heat to medium and allow it to simmer, uncovered for about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 60 minutes the gravy will become very thick and will require more frequent stirring. A crust will begin to form on the bottom of your pot which should be scraped with a metal spatula to allow a new one to form. After scraping the crust a few times, the gravy should be almost totally absorbed by the jackfruit. Add the chickpeas and cook for a further 30 minutes, scraping the crust a few more times. There should be no liquid remaining. Remove the lemongrass and bay leaf before serving.


  1. This looks incredible! I'm always looking for recipes that use lemongrass- I can't wait to try this!

  2. jackfruit is a new one on me for meat substitutes - the photo looks amazing and intriguing

  3. Oh, yum. I've never had jackfruit! I have a South Indian friend who is fanatical about it but insists that it's only good fresh, so I've been wary of trying it canned... but the more I see other people eating it the more I want to try anyway...

    Great idea and thanks for sharing your tweaks!

  4. That looks amazing, I really need to try to find some jackfruit.

  5. Your alphabet posts are certainly introducing me to new words and names as well as new dishes! I've never seen tinned jackfruit but I confess I haven't really been looking - I'll have to keep an eye out.

  6. Great post! I have rendang dinner that I'll be posting in a couple of days... But I totally lazed out and only cooked it for about an hour, maybe even less. Either way, it was delicious! I used soy curls, but jackfruit is a great idea!

  7. Oh, that looks soooo good!

    I have seen a few recipes around using jackfruit but never been able to track the right cans down. Many of them seem to use sweet syrup rather than brine...?

  8. Cindy, the jackfruit it usually in a tin with a green label but it's not as easy to find as the one in syrup.

    Mel - this looks great! I love using jackfruit in savoury meals, it works so well and your meal looks fantastic!

  9. Thanks Micah, lemongrass is something I don't use enough of but I always enjoy it. Hope you give this a try!

    Thanks Johanna, jackfruit was a new one for me in the mock meat department too. MoFo has been a great learning experience.

    Thanks coldandsleepy, my cookbook discussed how fresh jackfruit can be painful to prepare as it is so sticky. That was one of the reasons Celia instructed to use tins, the other was due to the enormous size of jackfruit!

    Thanks Jojo, just make sure you look for the green jackfruit in brine/water at your asian grocers.

    Thanks Kari, I have learnt a lot from my own posts this month too. I had never noticed jackfruit at the asian grocers before but I hadn't really been looking for it either.

    Thanks Amey, hope you enjoyed your rendang too. Soy curls sounds really interesting, we don't get them over here :(

    Thanks Cindy, I actually bought the wrong type of jackfruit initially and had to dash down to the shops again when I realised my mistake! The ripe sweet jackfruit is tinned in syrup whereas the green neutral tasting jackfruit is tinned in brine.

    Thanks Mandee, this was the first time I had used jackfruit but I will definitely be using it again.