Randang and not Rendang is the name by the Minangkabauer on West Sumatra

 Minangkabau people fear that food from elsewhere may be adulterated with substances that do not agree with them. In extreme cases, strange food is feared to have been deliberately poisoned or contaminated with filth by witches or demons who only appear to the human being. For this reason, people go out of their way to avoid eating and drinking in places where they are unsure of their welcome.

It is likely yhat many Minangkabau would prefer to take their whole kitchen with them when traveling, but barring that, they pack classic travel food, a dry spicy meat dish known as randang. When traveling abroad or going on the hajj, Minangkabau people go to great lengths to conceal packets of randang in suitcase linings or other hiding places in order to smuggle it past suspicious customs agents charged with curbing the import of fresh foods. Because randang is taken abroad by Minangkabau people, and because it is served in Minangkabau restaurants abroad, it has taken on significance as a, or perhaps even the, quintessential Minangkabau food, one that is not eaten by any other Indonesian people and that signifies home for Minangkabau who are away.

Randang is produced by simmering red meat in coconut milk and the usual spices used for curry over low a low heat for many hours until the sauce is completely reduced and the meat has crumbled into small bits and flakes. People who cannot afford red meat will substitute jackfruit, potatoes, dried fish or other curry ingredients that won’t easily disintegrate, but the ideal randang food is red meat.

As a result of long, slow cooking, the once golden curry becomes dark brown to black and shiny from the coconut oil, and it is said to keep for weeks without refrigeration. Eating with rice, randang is not as peppery hot as many Minangkabau dishes. It has an extremely rich, slightly sweet, smoky taste. For most Minangkabau people abroad, eating randang takes them as close to home physically and mentally as they can get without actually returning.

Out of “Walk in Splendor” “Ceremonial Dress and the Minangkabau” by Ann & John Summerfield, pages 131 & 132.      

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