Courgette Vegan Rendang
Were you scouring the web for the perfect vegan rendang recipe? Look no further because you’ve landed on the right blog post! Today, we’ll walk you through how to make this delicious vegan rendang courgette curry -or zucchini, whichever you prefer.
It’s quick, simple, and delicious to make. Unlike traditional meat-based rendang, you won’t be slaving away over the fire for hours because veggies cook in a jiffy. Bonus points if you’re looking for a vegan rendang recipe that happens to be made with a low fodmap curry paste.
Here are a few things we’ll cover today:
What Is Rendang?
What is rendang? It’s absolutely delicious, that’s what it is. The easiest way to describe it is to call it a rich meat dish that has been braised in an aromatic spice mixture and coconut milk until the liquid completely evaporates.
This leaves one with tender melt in your mouth meat that is caramelized and infused with spices. Does that sound delicious or what?
Traditionally made with beef -known as rendang daging– this dish can also be made with chicken and lamb. We’ve heard of duck rendang but have not given it a try.
When we decided to change our diet, we had to get creative with the meals we ate. This was one of them. If people were giving their takes on rendang, why couldn’t we jazz it up with vegetables instead? Before we get into the dish though, here are some more fun facts about this classic.
Wikipedia says that rendang is a dish that originates from the Minangkabau region in West Sumatra, Indonesia but we did some light digging and found that the origin of this dish can be traced back to the Indian merchants.
Apparently, as they traveled through the vast country, they brought their cuisine along with them. After some time, the Minang people from the Minangkabau region adapted this dish and dubbed it gulai.
Southeast Asians are touchy about their food. There have been countless arguments over what dish belongs to which country but rendang is one of those dishes that have spread across Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines.
If you want to see them rally together, then Aisha suggests showing them this blog post and calling this zucchini curry vegan in place of rendang.
She told her mom that she was making this courgette curry vegan and was met with a deadpan expression. Along with the ever so helpful, “that’s not a thing,” but everyone has their own version of this dish and this is ours. At least during the workweek.
Tips For The Perfect Vegan Rendang
The base to any curry typically includes onions, garlic, chili, and other miscellaneous herbs or spices. You can have a wet paste accompanied by a mixture of dry powdered and whole spices. For this recipe, we’ve skipped the whole spices and kept it to the bare basics.
We can tolerate garlic, so the basis of our spice paste is ginger and garlic, along with a few special aromats that are crucial to making rendang:
- Kerisik or toasted coconut
- Kaffir lime leaves
Let’s talk about why these four ingredients are so important and if there are substitutes for them.
A quick search of ‘kerisik’ and you’ll see tons of recipes on how to make it. Kerisik is essentially toasted coconut that has been blitzed into a paste. Think how natural peanut butter is made but instead of peanuts, it’s coconut flakes. You can find this at any Asian supermarket or Amazon. Or you can even make it yourself!
To do this, you’ll want to start with toasting some desiccated coconut in a pan on low heat. Keep the pan moving to ensure even heat distribution. When the coconut flakes start turning a light shade of brown, take it off the heat as it is easy to burn.
Pour everything into a blender and whiz it up. The mixture will clump, which is perfectly normal. Keep blending and occasionally scrape the sides. The clumps will break down and you will be left with a smooth coconutty paste that smells and tastes divine.
The lemongrass in this recipe is prepared simply by bruising it with the back of one’s knife and tying it in a knot. It will add an extra depth of layer to the paste and reinforce the aromatic spice mix. We’ve also used the lemongrass in the spice mix with similar results, so it’s your call!
Note: Galangal and ginger are not the same things! Yes, they kind of look the same and are from the same root family but their flavor profiles are different. Galangal or Laos (not the country) is more floral and fragrant when compared to ginger.
Tip: To remove ginger or galangal skin without wasting too much of it, use a spoon and scrape it off.
Start by angling it and applying some pressure with the spoon.
Scrape downwards and voila! Easy peasy lemon squeezy and with as little wastage.
Kaffir Lime Leaves
You can leave out the kerisik and ditch the galangal if you think they’re unnecessary or hard to find but one thing you cannot exclude from this recipe is the kaffir lime leaves. No and’s, if’s, or but’s about it. This ingredient is non-negotiable because it gives the dish that unmistakable zesty flavor that the leaves impart.
We know some of these ingredients are not readily available in most supermarkets if you live outside of Asia. We recommend buying them already frozen or fresh and then freezing them if you’re worried about longevity and waste. That’s how we get by and we have plenty of Asian supermarkets in Holland.
Psst… If you really really really can’t get a hold of these lime leaves then you can add lime zest at the very end of the cooking process. LIMES only. It won’t be the same but it will add that fragrant zestiness the kaffir lime leaves provide.
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s get into some details!
The courgette or zucchini goes into the oven, unsalted, and drizzled with some olive oil for about 18 minutes or until tender.
Like any other recipe, start with your spice paste in the blender with some water. Not too much though, just enough to get the mixture moving. We like ours a little chunky but feel free to go smoother.
Cook that down in some neutral oil for 5 minutes. We want to remove any residual liquid and fry off the spices until they’re aromatic and fragrant. After a while, it should start looking like this:
Add in the lemongrass and lime leaves, stirring as you go, and then the dry spices. Cook down for a minute or until it looks like this:
Now you can add coconut milk. Note: Please refrain from using low-fat, light coconut milk options. The thickeners in them can affect the texture of the rendang. Opt for all-natural coconut milk, it’s healthy fat after all! Add water to the mixture:
Cook down until it looks like this:
This took about 12 minutes on medium-low heat. You want the liquid to reduce to a thick consistency. You’ll know it’s ready when the oil has split from the coconut milk. In Malay, we call this cooking something until the “minyak pecah,” which literally translates to “oil breaks,” to the surface. We don’t know the science behind it but be it Indian, Thai, or Malaysian curries, Aisha has been told by a lot of ladies that when this happens, it’s a sign that your curry has reached peak deliciousness. It should look something like this:
Add this stage it’s basically done. All you have to do is add the courgette in curry and stir to incorporate.
This vegan rendang is already stepping on many toes with its namesake and to cause more uproar it is also a low FODMAP recipe. If you hear a stampede of people, that is probably the sound of Asian aunties coming for Aisha’s honorary Asian pass.
Now, if you ask any Asian aunty, low fodmap curries are not a thing because the basis of any good curry or spice paste is shallots, onions, etc. But not all of us are blessed with stomachs of steel.
After cooking without onions in our curry bases for a few years, we’ve found that you don’t miss out on that much -in some cases, at all- just because you searched for “curry low fodmap.”
If you’re one of those lucky few that can tolerate onions, then, by all means, add 3 small shallots or 1 large red onion to this recipe.
Turning this rendang curry vegan was fun to do because a lot of times, it’s hard to emulate flavors that are based on meat dishes and be happy with the results. Instead of making a recipe with a meat substitute, we thought it best to embrace the veg and instead create a bangin’ sauce.
There you have it folks, the vegan rendang recipe of your dreams. Incredibly simple to make, not at all time-consuming, and minimal effort with maximum flavor.
This recipe can easily be adjusted to your own liking in terms of sugar levels, and even vegetables. You could roast some aubergine (or eggplant), cauliflower, add some potatoes, or any vegetable of your liking and pair it with this decadent sauce.
Looking for more vegan Asian recipes? Try making these vegan soy-free Thai fish cakes or fried cauliflower wings!
Vegan Courgette/Zucchini Rendang
Get your tastebuds excited with this delicious and simple rendition of vegan rendang! It's aromatic and jam-packed with flavor.
- 1 large courgette or zucchini (ours weighed 430g)
- 250ml coconut milk
- 200ml water
- 50g fresh or frozen ginger
- 20g fresh or frozen galangal
- 20g or 4 red chilis (optional and can be adjusted to preference)
- 4 tbsp garlic oil or ghee
- 1 stalk of lemongrass (bruised)
- 5g or 15 kaffir lime leaves
- 2 tbsp coriander powder
- 1 1/2 tbsp cumin powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
Preheat oven to 190c or 374f.
Cut your courgette or zucchini in half, and then into quarters. You want 1-inch pieces, like rectangles. *Check out the blog post to see what we mean.
Place your courgette/zucchini in the oven and roast for 18 minutes or until tender.
Place the chili, ginger, and galangal into the mixer and blend until desired consistency. Add a tablespoon of water to help it along if needed.
Bruise the lemongrass with the back of your knife.
In a pan, heat 4 tbsp of garlic oil and cook your blended spice mix, on medium-low heat. Add the lime leaves and lemongrass and fry off until it is aromatic. This should take approximately 5 minutes.
Add the powdered cumin and coriander and cook for an additional minute.
Add the coconut milk and water. Cook this until it has reduced; this will take about 12 minutes. You'll know when it's ready when the oil splits from the sauce (for reference, look at the blog post)
Once the liquid has reduced, season with salt and sugar.
Add the cooked courgette or zucchini into the sauce and fold in.
Serve on a bed of fluffy white rice and voila!
- It is important to add the seasonings like salt and sugar once the sauce has reduced! If added while the mixture is still liquidy, you run the risk of over-seasoning
- If you really can't find kaffir lime leaves, use the zest of 1/2 a lime and only add it at the very end once the rendang is cooked
- No oven? Cook your zucchini or courgette in a pan with some oil instead
SummerNovember 3, 2021 at 1:34 pm
Oh my goodness, this was so amazing!!! Thank you!