An irresistible jackfruit vegan rendang with an unbelievably meaty texture, adapted from my mum’s authentic rendang recipe from West Sumatra, Indonesia.
P.S. I’ve included step-by-step photos to make this recipe even simpler!
In this post you’ll learn:
- Why you will love this recipe
- Step-by-step Instructions
- Meal prep, storage, and freezing instructions
- More recipes like this!
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Rendang was voted the best food in the world by CNN, out of more than 35k votes. Need I say more about why you should make this?😉
- And psst this is modified from my mum’s heritage recipe. And she is from Padang, the birthplace of rendang😋
- Although the traditional version is made from beef, this is a vegan and vegetarian rendang version. Plant power!🌱
- Made from jackfruit, it’s a healthy version of this classic Indonesian dish
- You only need 20 minutes of ‘actively’ cooking in the kitchen. The other 40 minutes is just for simmering!
- I’ve included step-by-step pictures to guide you in making this recipe! As usual, TFJ’s goal here is to help you feel as if you’ve made the recipe once just by reading the blog post!
What is Rendang Made Of?
Traditionally, rendang uses beef as the meat of the dish. For the spices used, most recipes call for shallot, garlic, red chillies, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, coriander, kaffir lime leaves, and bay leaves. Some other ingredients that are often added are turmeric, turmeric leaves, and candlenuts. For the Malaysian version of rendang, desiccated coconut and/or kerisik (toasted coconut butter/paste) are often added.
All these ingredients make up what some like to call “vegan rendang curry”. Although I personally disagree with the use of “curry” in this Indonesian recipe, I can totally understand why it is often called a curry due to its curry-like consistency! Either way, both rendang and curries are super delicious, making them two of my favorite dishes!😄
Is Rendang Vegetarian / Vegan?
Since traditionally, rendang almost always refers to beef rendang, it is not vegetarian or vegan by default. However, there have been many adaptations to the classic beef rendang recipe such as chicken rendang which is quite popular in Indonesia, the country where rendang originated from.
And since more people are adopting a plant-based lifestyle, the classic beef rendang has also been adapted to its plant-based versions such as tofu rendang, mushroom rendang, aubergine rendang, cauliflower rendang, and my ultimate favorite: jackfruit rendang! This way, rendang can be enjoyed by our plant-based friends too!
First up, the spices for the rendang pasta!
Note that you can totally skip these spices and go for a trusted rendang paste instead! We don’t always have the time to make everything from scratch so be kind and cut yourself some slack sometimes 🤍
- Garlic: Aromatic #1 in this recipe
- Shallot: Aromatic #2 here. In Indonesian cooking, garlic and shallot almost always go hand in hand!
- Spanish peppers: Spicing up the dish because Indonesian food is known for its heat🔥🔥🔥. If you live in/around Indonesia and have access to local chilli peppers, feel free to sub them! You can use cayenne peppers or curly red chilli peppers (ID: cabe merah). The dried red chilli version will also work once they are rehydrated.
- Ginger: Adds that bit of warmth to the dish
- Galangal: For that unique, citrusy tinge of flavor
- Lemongrass: Adds that floral, lemony aroma which rounds up the dish well
- Coriander: For that earthy and nutty tone
- Salt: The natural flavor enhancer
- Water: To make sure we can blend our spice paste easily
And now, the ‘meat’ of the dish
- Jackfruit: Our meat substitute that would give us a ‘meaty’ texture. Be sure to use young, unripe jackfruit for this recipe since ripe jackfruit is sweet and more commonly used as desserts!
- Potatoes: Funny story here😁✌ So when I asked my mum why I only see potatoes in her rendang, but not in the restaurants, she told me: “We were poor back then so we couldn’t afford to eat lots of meat”.
So although most people won’t add potatoes to their rendang, I decided to keep it in since this recipe is based on my mum’s heritage rendang recipe👩👧💗
- Coconut milk: The thickener that makes that creamy, umami goodness in this recipe!
And some optional ingredients to take your rendang up a notch!
- Candlenuts/kemiri: Makes for a creamier texture in this jackfruit rendang
- Kaffir lime leaves: For that extra fragrance that makes your mouth water🤤
- Bay leaves: As Taste of Home puts it, bay leaves add a “slightly sweet, sort of tea-like note” to your dish which rounds up the flavor from all the spices in this vegan jackfruit rendang
- Tamarind paste: Some acidity to freshen up the dish!✨
P.S. if you appreciate spices as much as I do, check out my Creamy Tandoori Sauce Pasta recipe which combines Indian spices and the creamy comfort of pasta!
How to Make Vegan Rendang
In short, making vegan rendang is similar to making a stew and leaving it to simmer for a long time (at least 40 minutes) so that all the flavor will be absorbed and the ‘meat’ tenderly cooked.
Once you have made (or bought) your spice paste, simply stir-fry your spice paste until fragrant. Then add the jackfruit and other vegetables, along with coconut milk and water to create a ‘soupy’ mixture. Simmer on low heat and uncovered for at least 40 minutes until the rendang thickens into a curry-like consistency.
Traditionally, rendang is cooked for hours and hours (talking about 8 hours and above here) until most of the moisture is evaporated and that the rendang turns dark brown to black in color. However, cooking your vegan jackfruit rendang for that long is not wise since the jackfruit and other vegetables will turn mushy. As such, I recommend only cooking it for a maximum of 1 hour.
For more detailed instructions, see below. Or just have a look at the video tutorial above!
I have to admit this isn’t my most straightforward recipe, but I’m here to guide you!💚 I’ve included step-by-step pictures below to help you. And don’t forget that I’ve also included a video tutorial above to make cooking this easier!
First, we’ll make the spice paste
1. Prep the spice paste: Peel your garlic, shallot, and ginger. Then cut off the top of the Spanish peppers.
2. Blend: Despite the many ingredients required which could be a little bit intimidating, this is the only ‘real’ step in making your spice paste! So blend them all up together!
Now let’s get cooking!
3. Cut: Cube your potatoes into about 2 cm pieces on each side (not in the picture below).
4. Cook the paste: Cook your rendang paste with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and bay leaves. Cooking your paste will intensify the flavor and makes for that deep, rich flavor we all love! Cook until the paste turns dark brown, for about 6-8 minutes.
Now, we’ll start cooking the other vegetables
5. Add: Now add the jackfruit, potatoes, half a can of coconut milk, and a can of water.
It will look a bit ‘soupy’ but don’t worry because most of the moisture will evaporate later on!
6. Simmer: Once it is boiling, reduce the heat to low and simmer it for 35-40 minutes, uncovered.
Note that 35-40 minutes is assuming you are using raw jackfruit. If your jackfruit is already cooked/parboiled, 20-25 minutes is enough. If your jackfruit is hard and doesn’t break apart easily, then it’s raw. On the other hand, if you can break it apart easily using your hand or a spoon, then it’s already cooked/parboiled.
7. Add and break apart: After 35-40 (or 20-25) minutes of simmering, add the other half a can of coconut milk. Then break apart the jackfruit using your wooden spatula.
8. Simmer further: Simmer further for 10-15 minutes, until both the jackfruit and potatoes are cooked.
9. Serving time! Once the jackfruit and potatoes can be easily pierced by a fork, turn the heat off and add in the tamarind paste/lime juice if using. Stir evenly and serve this vegan rendang on a bed of fragrant brown rice!
Storage, Meal Prep, and Freezing Instructions
Storage: Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Meal prep: This vegan rendang is a great recipe for meal prep since it lasts for 1 week when stored properly!
Freezing: Although freezing isn’t recommended since this dish is best served when fresh, you can freeze it in an air-tight container for up to 3 months.
A better alternative is to ‘batch-prepare’ your spice paste ingredients, then freeze the blended spice paste.
The candlenuts (or kemiri) give this rendang that signature ‘creamy’ texture and adds a nutty tone to the dish. However, understanding that this could be hard to get, feel free to omit them.
These two leaves really give that rendang smell. However, knowing that they could be hard to get, just know that the recipe will still work although it won’t give the ultimate best results.
One tip though is to use dried bay leaves. They are usually available in most supermarkets since they are often used in soups!
Yes, you can! We will be simmering the rendang for quite some time so dried ones will work too!
Get young, unripe jackfruit for this recipe. Young jackfruit has a subtle flavor that can absorb the flavor of the dish well. On the other hand, ripe jackfruit tastes sweet and is therefore more suitable for dessert.
They are not substitutable so be sure to get the correct one!
Traditionally, rendang is cooked in some sort of a wok. I would therefore recommend a big pan if you don’t have a wok.
However, using a pot will also work in a pinch. When I tested this, I found that less water evaporates when using a pot so I will only add 300ml of water instead of 400ml before simmering.
Looking for more Lunch/Dinner Recipe?
If you are a fan of Indonesian food, check out this Sticky Tempeh recipe, my healthy adaptation of the Indonesian kering tempeh.
For other drool-worthy meals🤤, check out:
- Vegan Rainbow Poke Bowl
- 5-Minute Easy Marinated Tofu
- The BEST and EASIEST Hummus Recipe (Done in 5 Minutes!)
- Caramelized Mushrooms and Onions
Looking for Easy Desserts or Dessert-like Breakfasts instead? Check out:
- Flax Seed Pudding (3 Variations)
- Baked Oats Without Banana (5 Variations)
- Frozen Berries Overnight Oats
- Strawberry Oat Milk
- Overnight Weetabix
- Chocolate Chip Baked Oats
For the Spice Paste:
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1 medium shallot
- 3 Spanish peppers
- 5 cm ginger (2 inches)
- 2 Tablespoons galangal powder/laos
- 2 sticks lemongrass white part only, so the bottom 1/3rd, leave the rest for simmering
- 1 Tablespoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons water
- 10 candlenuts/kemiri (optional)
For the Vegetables:
- 250 grams potatoes or sub with tempeh for more protein (9 oz)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 can young jackfruit 550 grams (or 19 oz), 280 grams (10 oz) when drained
- 1 can coconut milk (400 ml, 14 oz)
- 400 ml water for simmering (14 oz)
- 8 kaffir lime leaves (optional)
- 4 bay leaves (optional)
- 1 Tablespoon tamarind paste or sub with lime juice (optional)
Preparation and Cooking the Spice Paste
- Prep the spice paste: Peel the garlic, shallot, and ginger. Cut off the top of the Spanish peppers.
- Blend the spice paste: Add all the spice paste ingredients to a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth for about 1-2 minutes. TIP: You can also double the spice paste recipe and freeze half of them to save time later.
- Cut: Cut the potatoes into cubes of around 2 cm in each side (around as wide as your thumb).
- Cook the paste: Heat a large pan on medium high and add the olive oil or any other cooking oil. Once the oil is hot, add the rendang paste (from the step above) and lemongrass. If using, also add the kaffir lime and bay leaves.Cook on medium heat while stirring until it turns darker for 6-8 minutes. Be careful not to burn the spice by stirring it every 1-2 minute.
Cooking the Vegetables
- Add: Once the spice paste turns dark, add the jackfruit and potatoes. Then add half a can of coconut milk (200ml) and 1 can of water (400ml). It will look a bit 'soupy' but don't worry because most of the moisture will evaporate later!Simmer: Once it's boiling, reduce the heat to low and leave it uncovered to simmer for 35-40 minutes (or 20-25 minutes if your canned jackfruit is already cooked/parboiled). You definitely want it to still be bubbling gently.If your jackfruit is hard and doesn't break apart easily, then it's still raw. On the other hand, if you can break it apart easily using your hand or a spoon, then it's already cooked/parboiled.
- Add and break: After 35-40 (or 20-25) minutes of simmering, add the other half a can of coconut milk. Then break apart the jackfruit using your spatula. I recommend doing this using a wooden cooking spoon.Simmer: Give it a good stir and let it simmer further for 10-15 minutes until both the jackfruit and potatoes are cooked.
- Serve: Once you can easily pierce the jackfruit and potatoes by a fork, turn off the heat and add in the tamarind paste/lime juice if using. If not, you can already serve it on a bed of brown rice!
- Candlenuts give this rendang that signature ‘creamy’ texture and adds a nutty tone to the dish. However, understanding that this could be hard to get, feel free to omit them.
- Both bay leaves and kaffir lime leaves really give that authentic rendang smell. However, knowing that they could be hard to get, just know that the recipe will still work although it won’t give the ultimate best results.
- If you cannot find fresh bay leaves, you can use dried bay leaves. They are usually available in most supermarkets since they are often used in soups!
- Traditional rendang is cooked in a big wok so if you don’t have a wok (like me), cook it in a big pan instead of a pot.
- If you only have a pot at hand, that will also work in a pinch. When I tested this, I found that less water evaporates when using a pot so I will only add 300ml of water instead of 400ml before simmering.
- Storage: Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Although kudos to you if you could keep this for 5 days because I always end up finishing them so quickly since it’s so delicious!
- Meal prep: It makes this recipe perfect to batch-cook at the weekend when you have more time. You will be super excited for your next meal just thinking about how much flavor this recipe packs!
- Freezing: Freeze in an air-tight container for up to 3 months. To heat up, just give them a quick stir fry in a pan. You can also microwave them when pressed for time.