You might have heard about this special dish, Rendang from Minangkabau ethnic group that lives in West Sumatera Province of The Republic of Indonesia. Yes, this very delicious dish is known as a symbol of special event and always served as the main course for important people who hold high cultural rank among the society.
Rendang also popular in other countries such as Singapore, Brunei , Malaysia and Thailand since most of young people (especially men) of Minangkabau ethnic group always move on to other place to seek for prosperity. This tradition is known as ”Merantau” and through this tradition the popularity of Rendang became very high if compared to other dishes from Sumatera. Culinary expert from various countries described Rendang as West Sumatera Caramelized beef curry and most of Rendang features spicy souse.
Main ingredients of Rendang are coconut milk, ginger, galangal, turmeric leaves, lemon grass, garlic, shallot, chillies and other spices. Minangkabau people gives these spices special name Pemasak and fresh meat is the most important part of Rendang. Besides special taste, Rendang also has special meaning for people of West Sumatera and these are the meanings of the dish.
First, Meat (Dagiang in West Sumatera language), symbolize “Niniak Mamak”, the traditional clan leaders. In West Sumatera, clan leaders hold special rank (such as datuk, nobles, etc) and only people with certain achievement or bloodlines can be clan leader.
Second, Coconut (Karambia in West Sumatera language), symbolize “Cadiak Pandai”, the intellectual people such as teacher, poets and writers. People with high intellectual rank will be respected and live among people of West Sumatera with pride.
Third, Chili (Lado in West Sumatera language), symbolize “Alim Ulama”, the clerics and religion leaders. Strict rules of religion (most of people who lives in West Sumatera are Moslems) are symbolize by the hot chili.
Fourth, Spices (Pemasak in West Sumatera language), symbolize the rest of Minangkabau society.
Today, Rendang is very popular as a delicious daily dish and there are various menus which created based on Rendang recipe. Those menus are Egg rendang, Potato rendang, chicken rendang, duck rendang, cattle lung rendang and cattle liver rendang. In the year 2011, Rendang were crowded as the most delicious dish in the world and surely if you came to Indonesia, this one can’t be missed.
By Amar Pujo Wicaksono
(Contributor at visitingjava.com)