Duck Rendang

Duck rendang on a grey plate with a portion of Sri Lankan Yellow Rice.

Sometimes when you try a new recipe for the first time, it just hits the spot. You just know it is a keeper, right off the bat. That’s what happened the first time we tried the recipe that would eventually become our go-to recipe for Duck Rendang. With tender, fall-apart duck legs slowly cooked in a homemade (but super simple) Indonesian and Malaysian inspired curry paste, we were instantly in love.

Okay, so the cooking time for this one is substantial, but the hands on time is minimal so it’s the perfect dinner for a work-from-home day – alongside a big bowlful of my Sri Lankan Yellow Rice, this Duck Rendang recipe has become a Monday night favourite!

Grey plate of duck leg curry and yellow rice garnished with fried curry leaves.

My cookbook shelf at home is not just heavy with cookbooks, I religiously collect food magazines too and this Rendang started life in a relatively recent issue of Waitrose Food as a contribution of London-based chef Ravinder Bhogal. As I mentioned above, the first time I made this curry it was perfect… but there were still a few things I wanted to tweak and change.

For a start, the sauce for this Duck Rendang is fantastic, and even though a Rendang is traditionally a dry curry, we wanted more of it. So I had some scaling up to to, and slight tweaking of quantities not to lose the fantastic flavour, but to make sure the measurements made sense and that I was not now calling for 3/4 of a chilli or something equally as impractical.

Secondly, as a food writer I know I have a lot of ingredients simply to hand that most of you have no reason to buy or use unless you’re into a particular type of cuisine. Obviously, as the original recipe was created for Waitrose Food you can get everything you need in Waitrose, as I very rarely use ingredients such as galangal paste and palm sugar (and have no other recipes to share with you as ways to use up the jar / tub once you’ve made this recipe) I wanted to see if I could do without. In the end we’ve skipped the paste, subbed out the palm sugar for brown sugar, and I’ve also switched out the fresh turmeric (it stains everything when you prepare it, and goes off quickly in the fridge unless you like to pack it into a smoothie you should 110% keep away from pale clothing) for dried.

And this curry is still fantastic.

Duck rendang in a blue shallow casserole dish.

A Note On Sourcing & Cooking Your Duck Legs

Tweaking this recipe, I used a couple of different sources for my duck legs. Here in the UK the most obvious duck legs to buy are Gressingham Duck Legs which are available in most supermarkets. These work fine and are what are pictured here today… but if you take a look at the recipe these slightly younger, vacuum packed duck legs have a very high chance of sticking when you brown the skin off and render the fat, so you’ll need to add a little extra coconut oil to compensate.

However, when I used Pipers Farms Properly Free Range Duck Legs the skin did not stick at all without any additional oil, and I think we got a much better flavour in an already delicious dish. They may be a couple of pounds more for the pair, but the final result is much better. So, as is the case of most meat and game here, use the very best you can afford.

If you’ve never shopped from Pipers Farm before (I’m a massive fan of their whole roast chickens, pork steaks and bacon) use this link to place your first order and you’ll get £10 off (and I’ll also get some points added to my account, which will help me buy more good quality meat to test more recipes for you all – it’s a win win!)

Close up of a duck leg rendang with sri lankan yellow rice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this Duck Rendang spicy?

Even though there is both fresh and dried chilli in here, I’d say it has only the mildest touch of spice, so much that if you regularly eat spicy food you may not notice it. But, if you’re very sensitive to spice, remove the seeds and white membrane from the fresh chilli before adding it to the curry paste.

Should I really be adding as much coconut oil as well as the skin from the duck legs to this curry? Will it be really fatty / oily?

Don’t stress about it! Another change I’ve made from this original recipe is that when the curry sauce thickens, the sauce splits slightly and I’ve added the direction to skim the top. Usually, I manage to skim back out most of the coconut oil I added to the curry paste, leaving a still rich sauce but with I think a much better mouthfeel.

Can I make this duck curry ahead?

Yes — whilst it is better freshly made I’ve successfully warmed the duck legs through in their sauce over a low heat in the original cooking pot.

Can I use chicken legs instead of duck legs here?

I’ve not tried it, but as duck is much better suited to long, low and slow cooking, I think it is probably best to stick to duck here.

Which food processor do you use for the curry paste?

I could not live without this mini chopperad for making homemade curry pastes, pestos, marinades and for grinding spice blends.

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Duck rendang on a grey plate with a portion of Sri Lankan Yellow Rice.

Duck Rendang

  • Author: Rachel Phipps
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Slow Cooking
  • Cuisine: Indonesian


This easy, rich, fall-apart tender Duck Rendang curry recipe may take a few hours to make, but includes barely any hands-on time, the homemade curry paste whizzing up in just moments in the food processor. 



For the Duck Rendang

  • 2 x duck legs
  • 300ml full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • juice of 1/2 large lime

For the Rendang Curry Paste

  • 1 red chilli
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 35g fresh ginger
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 1 lemongrass stalk
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 3/4 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 3/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 3 tbsp melted coconut oil (plus extra for frying, see note)


  1. Place the duck legs, skin side down in a small, lidded, heavy bottomed frying pan or shallow casserole. Set it over a medium low heat, and cook for about 15 minutes on each side until golden and the fat has rendered out of the skin. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.
  2. Meanwhile, add the chilli (roughly chopped, including the seeds), red onion (roughly chopped), ginger (peeled and roughly chopped), garlic cloves (peeled), lemongrass (finely sliced), and the rest of the curry paste ingredients, except for the coconut oil, to a small bowl food processor or mini chopper. Blitz until everything is well chopped. Then, scrape down the sides, add the melted coconut oil, and blitz again into the smoothest paste you can manage.
  3. Add the curry paste to the rendered duck fat and fry gently, stirring often, for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk and 350ml of water, then return the duck legs to the pan. Turn up the heat to bring the mixture to a simmer, and then reduce the heat to low (I cook this recipe on number 3/9 on my electric hob). Place the lid on and simmer for 45 minutes.
  5. Give everything a good stir, and cook the duck, uncovered for a further 1 hour and 45 minutes, turning the duck legs over a couple of times in the sauce during this time, giving it a gentle stir each time. You’ll want to keep an eye to make sure the paste and duck are not sticking and burning on the bottom of the pot in the final 45 minutes. 
  6. Stir in the brown sugar and lime juice, and set the curry aside for 5 minutes whilst you get on with the sides. Once the oil has separated to the top of the curry with resting, skim it off the top and discard. Then set the curry over a very, very low heat with the lid back on to keep warm until everything else is ready and it’s time to eat.


Farmed duck legs might stick to the pan when you’re cooking the skin, so add a little coconut oil to fry them in. Free range duck legs should crisp up without any additional help!