Vegan Rendang with Tofu and Potatoes (Rendang Tahu dan Kentang)

Vegan Rendang recipe, a vegan version of the iconic Beef Rendang, a richly flavoured coconut curry from Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
Vegan Rendang with Potato and Tofu, Rendang Kentang
Vegan Rendang with Potato and Tofu, Rendang Kentang

This Vegan Rendang with tofu and potatoes has all the deep, aromatic and rich flavours of the traditional beef rendang, just minus the meat and cooked in a third of the time. And judging by how popular it is at home, I know you’re going to love it!

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes

What is Rendang?

Beef rendang (the original rendang) is a curry with meltingly tender beef that’s been slow cooked in a rich, aromatic and highly spiced coconut gravy. It is, I say it all the time, a curry fit for a King!

There is also Chicken Rendang, pretender to the throne.

You can read more about Beef Rendang, and get my mum’s recipe, here, on my new Singaporean and Malaysian Recipes site.

Beef Rendang
Beef Rendang

Rendang is originally, an Indonesian curry, but has long been adopted, and considered, a Malay recipe in Singapore and Malaysia.

Malay (and Indonesian) recipes are one of the hardest to convert to vegan for the simple reason that even the most innocuous dish will have, at its base, shrimp paste or dried shrimp. Luckily for us, beef rendang doesn’t have either, just good old meat to swap out.

Take a look at the recipe below, Sayur Lemak, and how I veganised this most loved of recipes, that has both dried shrimp and shrimp paste.

yellow vegetable curry in black bowl, dark food photography, curry food styling, Vegan Sayur lemak
Vegan Coconut Curry

Vegan Rendang Recipe

I pretty much follow the blueprint for our Beef Rendang recipe, with a few tiny changes. The recipe is a little more involved and has a few steps. Not all recipes are going to be 5-minute jobs, right? And rendang is worth the extra effort, trust me!

Essentially, this is how we are going to be cooking our Vegan Rendang:

  1. Soak the dried red chillies.
  2. Lightly marinate the potatoes and tofu then brown them (optional step).
  3. Make our rendang paste by grinding everything up in a chopper.
  4. Start cooking. I change it up here by sautéeing our paste in a little oil. In the beef rendang recipe, we place everything in a saucepan and simmer, no added oil.

Do you need to brown the potatoes and tofu?

No you don’t. In fact, you can just skip the marinating and browning, and just add them straight to the cooking part as they are. However, I find that marinating them and browning them add to the layers of flavour.

The rendang is, after all, traditionally, a celebratory dish made on special occasions and is full of rich, complex flavours.

And yes, you do want a chopper. No kitchen should be without it.

Don’t like Tofu?

No sweat. Just leave it out, and substitute with a courgette (zucchini) or two. Or just make it a Potato Rendang by increasing the number of potatoes.

The thick gravy is to die for!

More vegetables in your Vegan Rendang?

Not a problem. I wanted to keep this recipe fairly basic in terms of its “fillings”, staying pretty true to its name. So we’ve got just a red capsicum (bell pepper) for a little excitement.

However, you can add any stew friendly vegetables you fancy, bearing in mind that you don’t want too much, so perhaps 2-3 more vegetables is best. Any of the following will work:

  • courgettes (zucchini)
  • aubergines (eggplants)
  • green beans
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes and squash
  • and any type of beans and pulses

Just remember to add the vegetables in, according to their cooking times.

  • The carrots, sweet potato and squash can go in with the potatoes.
  • The beans and pulses will depend on whether you are using dried (soaked overnight) or canned. The canned ones only need 5-10 minutes usually, but read the instructions on the can itself.
  • courgettes and aubergines only need 15-20 minutes.
  • green beans only need 5 minutes.

Rendang Ingredients

Some dishes just call for difficult to find ingredients that you cannot substitute for and hope to recreate the same dish. And this is one of them.

If you want to cook “exotic” recipes and expand your culinary repertoire, you need to source out these ingredients. Go online, you can get almost anything online!

Galangal (lengkuas in Malay)

Click to read more. The curry won’t work as well without it, I’m afraid. Please do not listen to any advice about increasing the ginger to compensate. Ginger is citrusy and spicy, while galangal is floral and sweet. Those are seriously different aromas.

In the UK, galangal paste is fairly easy to come by in larger supermarkets like Waitrose and Sainbury’s.

Kerisik (toasted desiccated coconut)

Click here to read more. This is just diy dry roasted/toasted desiccated coconut. But be sure to get desiccated coconut without any sugar added, and ideally, no preservatives. It will add delicious, caramel notes to our vegan rendang.

If you have a good chopper with sharp blades, just toast the coconut as in the recipe here or below, then add it straight to your chopper, no need to pound first.

Turmeric Leaves (daun kunyit in Malay)

Click here to read more. Turmeric leaves have a grassy and citrusy constitution that is the defining aroma of an authentic Singaporean and Malaysian beef rendang. Outside of Asia, they are probably not easy  to come by but the good news is, if you have access to fresh turmeric, then you can grow them yourself!

In the winter, when I sometimes don’t have any turmeric leaves around I resort to kaffir lime leaves, which I always have plenty of, as my plant is a bit of a monster. Kaffir lime leaves are not a substitute for turmeric leaves but they are an acceptable alternative in this recipe.

If you can’t get either, finish off your vegan rendang with some chopped coriander leaves (cilantro).

Chillies (chili peppers)

This is traditionally a spicy curry. But you can cut those dried red chillies right down for a milder version. I always make 2 separate lots, one a fairly spicy version, the other, a very mild one, for the younger kids.

You could also cheat and use a generic shop bought chilli paste that has no added ingredients, ideally, just ground/chopped chillies in oil or vinegar.

Rendang Kentang dan Tahu

Since many of my posts are also quick and fun lingual excursions, let’s take a look at the Malay translation of our Vegan Rendang.

In the Malay language, adjectives come after nouns, not unlike French and Spanish.

  • kentang = potato
  • dan = and
  • tahu = tofu

Make Ahead Rendang

You can make this the night before and heat it gently just before serving. Those potatoes will soak up all the liquid, so you’ll need to add water to it as you’re heating it up.

I suggest not adding the tofu if you’re making it a day earlier; this will ensure that your tofu don’t turn to mush upon reheating. Brown them, but keep them in the fridge until the next day.

And on that note, shall we get our aprons on?

More Vegan Recipes on LinsFood

You’ll find more more meat free recipes on the Vegan Recipes page, like the following:

♥ If you like the recipe and article, don’t forget to leave me a comment and that all important, 5-star rating! 😉 Thank you! ♥

And if you make the recipe, share it on any platform and tag me @azlinbloor, and hashtag it #linsfood

Lin xx

Vegan Rendang with Potato and Tofu, Rendang Kentang

Vegan Rendang with Tofu and Potatoes (Rendang Tahu dan Kentang)

Vegan Rendang recipe, a vegan version of the iconic Beef Rendang, a richly flavoured coconut curry from Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.
4.88 from 47 votes
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indonesian, Malaysian, Singaporean
Keyword: curry, vegan, vegetarian
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings: 6 (4-6)
Calories: 259kcal
Author: Azlin Bloor
Cost: £5 ($6.50) for the whole recipe

Equipment

  • You need a food chopper for the paste ingredients.

Ingredients

Potato and Tofu

  • 500 g (1.1 lb) potatoes (waxy ones like red potatoes are best, as they won't fall apart easily)
  • 300 g (10½ oz) firm tofu (weight is give or take, depends on what sizes your tofu comes in)
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric (serbuk kunyit)
  • juice of 1 lime
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Ingredients to be ground

  • 20 dried red chillies (non smoky variety)
  • 3 stalks lemongrass (serai), the bottom half only (or 2 tsp lemongrass paste out of a jar)
  • cm (1") galangal (lengkuas) (or ½ tsp galangal paste out of a jar)
  • 5 cm (2") ginger (halia)
  • 3 cloves garlic (bawang putih), left whole
  • 1 large onion (bawang besar), quartered
  • 4 Tbsp kerisik
  • 1 Tbsp ground coriander (serbuk ketumbar)

Kerisik (Toasted Desiccated Coconut)

  • 4 Tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut (preferably organic, with no preservatives)

All other Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 400 ml (1 3/5 cup) coconut milk (1 can)
  • 125 ml (½ cup) water
  • 2 turmeric leaves (daun kunyit) (or 6 kaffir lime leaves)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper), halved, then sliced in thick strips

Instructions

Preparing the dried chillies

  • Boil some water.
  • With a pair of scissors, cut each chilli into 2-3 pieces, and place in a bowl. If you want to save time, you could use 3 Tbsp of any generic shop bought chilli paste, ideally, without any other ingredients like onions and garlic.
  • Pour the very hot water onto the cut chillies and cover with a side plate. Leave to soak for 15-20 minutes while you get everything else ready.

Marinate the potatoes and tofu (optional step, go on to the kerisik step if you want to skip this)

  • Depending on the size of your potatoes, halve or quarter them. Place on a plate.
  • Cut up your tofu into small cubes about 2.5cm (1") long. Place on a separate plate.
  • Sprinkle the turmeric, lime juice and salt equally over both, and rub all over, being gentle with the tofu. Set aside while you get the kerisik going.

Let's prepare the kerisik

  • Dry fry (toast) the desiccated coconut on low heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. When done, tip onto a plate while you get the ground ingredients going. Leaving it in the hot pan will brown it further, and you don't want it to be burnt.
  • Usually, we'd pound this toasted coconut before adding to the rendang paste below. But I've dispensed with that method, and quite enjoy the texture the coarser kerisik lends to the rendang.

Let's make the rendang paste

  • Place all the paste ingredients into a chopper and chop for about 30 seconds, mixing everything well. Continue chopping/blending until you have a fairly fine mix. Add a little water if you need it.

Let's brown the potatoes and tofu (optional step)

  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan on high heat.
  • Brown the potatoes for about 3 minutes, tossing and turning them. Reserve that marinating liquid. Tip out onto a plate.
  • In the same pan, brown the tofu for 2-3 minutes, tossing and turning gently, so as not to break them up. Reserve the marinating liquid. Tip out onto a plate.

Let's get cooking!

  • Get a large saucepan and heat the oil on medium heat.
  • Fry the cinnamon stick for 15 seconds, then add the ground paste.
  • Sauté this paste for a good 5 minutes, stirring regularly. It's going to be dry as we are not using much oil here. Just scrape your pan and continue frying.
  • Toss in the potatoes without the marinating liquid. Mix to cover the potatoes with the paste.
  • Pour in the coconut milk and water and stir.
  • Using a pair of scissors, roll the turmeric leaves into a chiffonade, and snip into strands straight into the pan. Add the salt, and the marinating liquid (from both the potatoes and the tofu) and bring everything to a simmer.
    If using lime leaves instead, now's the time to drop them in.
  • Stir, then partially cover and cook for 20-30 minutes depending on the size of your potatoes. We want the potatoes completely done, but not falling apart before we add the tofu and capsicum (bell pepper).
  • When your potatoes are done, add the tofu and capsicum and cook for another 5 minutes. Taste, and add more salt if you think your rendang needs it. Take off the heat and leave it to rest for 15 minutes for the flavours to develop, before serving.

Nutrition

Calories: 259kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 8g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Sodium: 224mg | Potassium: 652mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 441IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 99mg | Iron: 4mg
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24 thoughts on “Vegan Rendang with Tofu and Potatoes (Rendang Tahu dan Kentang)”

  1. Hi, being Indonesian there are more version of rendang such as potato, jackfruit, and stinky beans (jengkol). I personally love kidney beans in my rendang. I never like meat in my rendang so i often just get the mushroom or potato version of it.

    1. Hi Ima, thanks for your suggestions. And yes, being Singaporean ;), I am very familiar with all those. Jackfruit is such a common vegan alternative, I wanted other options for my readers. I also wanted to make this recipe doable for most of my readers who are not familiar with petai (stinky beans) or can’t get them. I also have another vegan rendang on my Singaporean and Malaysian Recipes site. 🙂

  2. Hi Azlin, for vegan and or vegetarian that do not take onions and garlic, what do we substitute them with? Thank you

    1. Hi Cindy, I don’t think you can totally replicate the flavour of those too, but here are some suggestions that will add a little of what’s missing:

      1. Brahmins don’t tend to eat onion and garlic and their go-to substitute for both in a recipe is asafoetida. You will find this in a shop run by Indians and Pakistanis. I don’t know where you are, but here in the UK, I can easily buy this in our large supermarkets, next to the other usual spices like cumin, turmeric, etc.
      Use 1 tsp in this recipe. Half or double, if you’re making less or more.
      If you can’t find asafoetida,

      2. If leeks are allowed, use that to replace the onion in the recipe. Use a combination of 1 leek, 1 small carrot and 1/2 a red bell pepper to replace the onion and garlic. Chop them all really fine, or just add them as vegetables in the rendang itself. The leek will fall apart if you cook it for long, which is a good thing, as it’ll add flavour and texture.

      I have another Vegan Rendang recipe on my other (new) blog: Singaporean and Malaysian Recipes. That one has more vegetables, if you want to take a look.

      I hope that helps. Anymore questions, just ask.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Azlin, have tried this recipe a few times and it is delicious, just wondered which/what sort of dried chillies are you using? So far I’ve been using the little dried birds eye ones and it comes out VERY hot 😀

    1. Hi Laura, I use a combination of dried Kashmiri chillies, which are super mild, with only a little heat in them, and some generic ones from the Chinese grocer near me.
      They give me a good balance of colour and not too much heat.
      You definitely don’t want birds eye, on their own.
      I don’t know where you are (I’m in the UK), but an Asian grocer ought to have what you need.
      I hope that helps, and I’m pleased to hear that you enjoy the recipe.

  4. Was about to make this but just wanted to doublecheck there’s really no tamarind paste needed as most rendang recipes do?

    1. Hi Eric, rendang is one of those recipes that changes with the family who cooks it, not to mention the area that family lives in. Not a single person in my family has ever used tamarind in rendang, going back to my granny. So no tamarind in any of my rendang recipes, as that’s how I grew up cooking it. I’ve also never seen the need to add that sweet and sour flavour from tamarind, as it’s not something I identify with rendang. But if you do want to, by all means.

  5. 5 stars
    Made this yesterday. Wonderful recipe. So happy to be able to enjoy the beautiful rendang flavours without the meat. Delicious!

  6. 5 stars
    Thanks Azlin, great recipe and great taste.
    I would like to add three comments:
    1. Potatoes becomes very hard even after 1h boiling. IMHO the marinating liquid shall be add to cooking at the same step as tofu and peppers.
    2. Chilli soaking liquid adds great colour and flavour so could be used instead water.
    3. Kaffir leaves mentioned in ingredients but not mentioned in recipe.

    Will do next time and update on results

    1. Hi Pawel, pleased to hear you like the recipe.
      Let’s address each of your issues:
      1.The potatoes still being hard after 1 hour of cooking – that’s really not something to do with the recipe, when the marinating liquid is added, etc. It has everything to do with the type of potatoes used, as well as how big or small they are cut. The reason I suggest not adding the marinating liquid with the potatoes, is to allow them to take on the rich flavour of the paste FIRST. The marinating liquid goes in only a minute later, so it plays no part in the toughness of the potatoes.
      However, if you prefer to add the liquid with the potatoes, no big deal, cooking is a personal thing.

      2. Adding the chilli soaking liquid – sure, why not. Personally, I don’t think it will make a difference in the colour as the paste darkens on cooking, but it’s a matter of preference.

      3. Kaffir lime leaves are mentioned in the ingredients as an alternative herb to the turmeric leaves. That is why they are not mentioned in the steps, only the leaves. But upon reflection, I’ll edit that and mention the lime leaves too, if using.

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

  7. Patrick Hayes

    5 stars
    This was outstanding. I lived in Indonesia for 2 decades and rendang was always a favourite. But now we have all gone vegetarian and it’s one of the things I really miss. So got my wife to make this, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart, delicious!

  8. Thanks Azlin for this recipe. If you are cooking this and leaving out the tofu, what vegetables would you replace it with? I can’t decide what to use.

  9. Katijah Ramli

    5 stars
    Thank you Kak Lin. With Raya not all that far away, I can’t wait! Maybe try this weekend lah, semua orang kak rumah vegetarian sekarang!

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