Put the kettle on, then cut the dried red chillies in 2-3 pieces, depending on their lengths, and place them in a bowl. Pour the boiling water all over them, cover, and leave to soak for 15 minutes. In the meantime, get all the other ingredients ready.
Place the tamarind pulp (if using) into a bowl, and top with 125 ml (½ cup) of hot water from the kettle. Leave to soak, no need to cover.
Roll your turmeric leaves up and either using a knife or a pair of scissors, cut them up into thin shreds. If using lime leaves, just tear the leaves up. Set aside.
Let's chop up the vegetables. Basically, we are going to chop the vegetables up to fairly similar sizes and set them aside.Slice the carrots into rounds. Slice the celery sticksQuarter the eggplant lengthwise, then slice into "cubes".Halve the courgette lengthwise and slice.
Make the Kerisik
While the chillies are soaking, heat a small frying pan on medium-low heat and tip the grated coconut into it.
Dry fry this coconut, shaking the pan frequently for 4-5 minutes until you reach a golden brown colour. Use a spatula to toss the coconut if you are not comfortable shaking the frying pan.
Tip the kerisik onto a small plate and leave to cool, If you leave it in the frying pan, it will continue cooking and burn.
Make the Rendang Paste
Slice the lemongrass into thin rings and drop them into the chopper. See this post on how to prepare lemongrass if you're not sure.
Cut the galangal and ginger into small pieces and drop into the chopper. Chop these 3 ingredients on their own for 10 seconds. We are giving them a head start as they are fibrous.
Drain the soaking chillies, lose the seeds and tip them into your chopper.
Peel and slice your onions into quarters and add them to the chopper. Chop for 10 seconds, wipe down the sides of the chopper with a spoon, and chop for another 10 seconds.
Now add everything else: garlic, kerisik, turmeric and ground coriander to the chopper and chop again for 30 seconds, wiping down the sides a couple of times. Depending on the sharpness of your blade, you may need more time to get a smooth paste.You shouldn't need any water as there's enough moisture in the onions, but if you do, just add a tablespoon or two. We want a thick paste we can fry.
Let's cook our Vegetarian Rendang
Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add the cinnamon stick, star anise and cloves and fry for 30 seconds.
Add the rendang paste, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring regularly. It will be a bit dry as we are only using 2 tablespoons of oil in here. If you are comfortable with that, great, if not, splash in a little water.
When the paste is fragrant at around 2 minutes of frying, toss in all the vegetables, stir thoroughly to coat them with the rendang paste.
Pour in the coconut milk and water and stir. Tip in the turmeric leaves (or lime leaves) and add the salt. Stir, and bring to a simmer, still on medium heat.
Partially cover your saucepan and cook for 20-30 minutes, depending on how well done you like your courgettes and eggplants. I like them falling apart.
When your vegetarian rendang is done, remember the tamarind we soaked right at the start? Mash it up with your fingers (won't be hot by now), and using a large mesh strainer, strain the tamarind juice into your rendang.If you haven't got a large mesh strainer, take out the seeds and pulpy bits with your fingers and just pour everything in. That's what I do, as my granny used to. Everything is edible.Stir, and bring back to a simmer.
Check seasoning and add more salt if you need to.
Finally, stir in the peas, turn the heat off and take off the hot hob. If using coriander leaves (cilantro), now's the time to scatter some over, or just before serving.Will keep in the fridge for 2 days. Not really suitable for freezing as the vegetables will turn to mush.