Rendang is a spicy meat dish that is originally from Minangkabau, West Sumatra, Indonesia. Rendang is a famous Minangkabau cuisine and is an icon of Minangkabau culture. Rendang is traditionally prepared by the Minangkabau community for festive occasions such as traditional ceremonies, wedding feasts, and Eid Al-Fitr, and is served to honor guests.
History of Rendang
The term Rendang according to historian Gusti Anan, derives from the word “merandang” which means cooking coconut milk slowly until it dries. However, it is unknown when Rendang was first introduced. There is hardly any written evidence about the history of this dish. One written evidence was found confirming that in the 19th century, there was a traditional dish in Minangkabau called Rendang. However, based on the traveling notes of the Minangkabau community, researchers believed that Rendang has existed since the 16th century. In the 16th century the people of West Sumatra had already traveled to Malacca and Singapore where it is assumed that they took Rendang on their journey. The spices in Rendang have antiseptic and antimicroba properties allowing the dish to last throughout the long journey.
The spices of Rendang are said to have been influenced by people from India who were living in Minangkabau and used similar spices. The popularity of Rendang quickly spread to other areas such as Riau, Mandailing, Jambi, and Negeri Sembilan (Malaysia).
Other historical evidence about Rendang is found in the diary of a Dutch soldier in Padang, Colonel Stuers, where in 1821 he mentioned about a dark meat dish.
Originally Rendang was cooked using a fire wood stove which took about eight to twelve hours to complete.
The Philosophy behind Rendang
Each of the items used to make Rendang has its own meaning. The cow meat symbolizes the adat leaders (ninik mamak) and the female leaders (bundo kanduang) whose role is to improve the welfare of their nephews and nieces (anak pisang/kemenakan); the coconut milk (karambia) symbolizes the intellectuals (Cadiak Pandai) who maintain the collectivity of the people; the hot chili (sambal lado) symbolizes the religious leaders who are very strict and consistent with their teachings; and, finally, the spices symbolizes the individual who plays an important role in advancing the collective life.
Where to Find Good Rendang in Sawahlunto
A side from being made from meat, there are various kinds of Rendang such as chicken Rendang, duck Rendang, egg Rendang, and fish Rendang. In Sawahlunto other popular Rendang dishes include shredded beef (runtiah) Rendang, lung Rendang, sweet potato Rendang, and eel Rendang.
To get a taste of one of the most famous Rendang in Sawahlunto, visit Rumah Makan Ira in Pasar Remaja, not far from Sage II Vacation home.
Visit the Sage II Vacation Home of Sawahlunto.
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