EID MUBARAK CELEBRATION1: KUPAT

Ramadhan is one whole fasting month with all its rituals and celebrations. To end this holy month, we have ‘Eid Mubarak’ or ‘Eid Al Fithr’ that literary means the finish of the fast and the coming back to the purity, just like a newborn baby. In Indonesia, we have tradition to ask for forgiveness from one to another.

Of course, each region will have its own signature dish on this celebration, but one food that common is what we call as ‘Kupat.’ It is just like turkey on thanksgiving: a must on every house’s dining table. ‘Kupat’ is a rice cake wrapped in woven coconut young leaves. It is usually served with meat, chicken, boiled eggs and vegetables in thick curry sauces with lots of coconut cream.

How to make kupat

To make the woven casing of ‘Kupat,’ we need two –ribbon like– young leaves of coconut. The casing will be fulfilled ¾ with rices (my mom will replace a quarter of it with sticky rice for a chewy texture) and they will be boiled for 4-5 hours. During the long hours of boiling, the water will be reducing, so pouring additional boiling water is necessary.

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Kupat’ is also a common gift to be delivered for family as symbol of “Ngaku” (to admit/to confess) and “Lepat” (misconduct). Simply send the package of ‘Kupat’ for a confession of any misconduct over the last year and asking for forgiveness. ‘Kupatthen will manifest when the outstretched hands from two persons held tightly ask for forgiveness from each other, as two white greenish coconut leafs are woven tightly.

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Ramadhan Fast Breaking 3: Food Market

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After introducing Indonesian home cooking fast breaking, another thing that also interesting is: traditional food market. Food market of Kotagede in the southern part of Jogjakarta, Indonesia is famous for its variety: sweets, cakes, drinks, chips, cooked food and of course deep fries. Buying cooked meals is one of efficient ways for busy families to prepare the fast breaking.

This business opportunity then naturally built this impromptu market. Yes impromptu, it means that this is only during Ramadhan, in the afternoon from around 3 up until 8 in the evening. The activity in the market is increasing prior to the end of Ramadhan, where more foods variety typical to the celebration will come.

Effectiveness is the main reason for customer of this market, since most of Indonesian foods are slow cooked. They are at least two systems that are applied in the business: direct selling and consignment. Direct selling means a vendor in the same time is the one who produce the food, while consignment means that the vendor is only the broker. A vendor will have the kiosk and food suppliers.

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Cakes and sweets vendor for example, they will have 30 to 40 different types of food. These are just too many for a vendor to provide all of them. So, a clever solution is to get the food from suppliers. As the market is impromptu, this will applies also for the supplier. Everybody is welcome to become the supplier as long as they have good food to sell: household moms or women groups, or just cooking talented person, just everybody who has good tasted food and eager to earn some extra money.

One supplier will send the food that they make to several vendors. So it is just like a win-win impromptu solution. The holy month apparently is not only spiritually a blessing to the community but in the same time it is also economically empower the people. Everybody is happy and everybody is being helped. This is the beauties of the holy fasting month.

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RAMADHAN FAST BREAKING 2: GULA JAWA BUTTER CAKE

I got the inspiration of this cake’s recipe from my tourist group from the UK, Johnstone Family of Manchester that I handled last week end.  I love the way they were impressed by the authentic taste of Javanese palm sugar (Gula Jawa) that was mixed with shredded coconut. We went to a traditional market and tasted some of traditional snacks in a food stall. Ian, the father said that we were supposed to have lunch there and try little bit of this and that instead of to have in a fancy restaurant that we just did. Mrs. Johnstone, Anita told me how she loves baking together with their daughter Eve. I love their eagerness to try things that they never met or heard before.

In respect to that experience, so here I am in my kitchen desk, having a half day off, thinking of how nice they were and our trip was, re-create a butter cake recipe. I am planning to replace some part of icing sugar with “Gula Jawa” and replace the whole part of milk with coconut cream. There is vanilla essence on the recipe and I am planning to replace it with “Pandan Leaves” water that I make myself with my food processor. To add the texture I put some shredded coconut that I dried up for a while in oven for a good 5 minutes.

It is a normal butter cake actually, with some modifications. After working around 90 minutes batting the butter, sugar, adding the egg, pouring the flour then put the dough in the oven, I am happy to smell caramelized “Gula Jawa” with “Pandan Leaves” flavor from my well done cake. It will be a nice treat for this afternoon fast breaking. I wish Johnstone family in Bali could taste it!

Gula Merah Cake

 

Gula  Jawa:  it is made from the zip of palm tree  flower, boiled until thickens and molded in a coconut shell. It is nice to melt “Gula Jawa” with water (1:4, Water:Gula Jawa)  and use it as sauce for pancakes. Breaking “Gula Jawa” and put in cup of hot coffee or tea or ginger water is a good idea.

Pandan Leaves: (Latin: Pandanus Amaryllifolius) a plant that is commonly used in Southeast Asian cooking to add flavor. It is also known as vanilla of the east.

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RAMADHAN FAST BREAKING 1: SWEET CHILLED YUM!

It has been three months since my last post on April. I have to squeeze my experimental cooking-writing activities into my tight working schedule as tour guide during this high season here in Jogjakarta, Indonesia. It was not easy and I did not make it during these last three months. It make me feel so guilty for sure. As a guilt healer, I try to start writing again in such a good timing since the month of Ramadhan is just going on.

Ramadhan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, where Moslem worldwide observes this month as fasting period. As one of the countries that have highest number of Moslem population, Ramadhan is a big event in Indonesia. Fast breaking is the awaited moment after 13 to 14 hours of fasting time in a day. Many varieties of sweets, ices and other delicacy are served during this time. Blend of ices with fruits, pudding, cream and syrup are the best for Indonesia’s humid weather to break the fast!

1 Floating Cantaloupe

FLOATING CANTALOUPE
Cantaloupe is seasonal fruit. Its orangey, soft and juicy flash is nice to be eaten just like that, in a hot summer day. It is nice also to mix it in a fresh salad. But, in Indonesia it is a common to use the fruit in a drink. I remember in my childhood, we had a food stall that sold this drink in front of our school, such a treat for children after school time. What we do is simply thinly shredded the fruits, and then put it in a big bowl together with red syrup from the supermarket and lots of chilled water. We can also use soft drink instead, but it will be too much and overtake the freshness of the cantaloupe, so just chilled water will do best.

2 Kolak Pisang

KOLAK
KOLAK is a famous dessert in our cuisine culture. It is served either hot or cold. The base of this dessert is coconut milk that is cooked together with palm sugar and the infused pandanus leaf flavor. Banana, pumpkins and sweet potatoes is usually added into this sweet cream soup. We can add pretty much plenty of any other things to the soup base, just expand our imagination: mung beans, jack fruit or cassava. Young coconut, fruit jelly, why not??

3 Es Teler

ES TELER
Back in the 1980s, there was a food stall selling a mixed fruit ice that was very delicious in all over Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia. This ice creation was famous especially among youngsters whose then claimed to get “stoned” just like after consuming drugs when they drink this ice. The word “stoned” or “teler” is being used to call the ice since then.
Es Teler is a fruit cocktail where avocado, young coconut, jackfruits are mixed in a quite light coconut milk soup together with condensed milk and simple syrup. It is not necessary to process the fruits in the ingredients, simply dice them in to small cuts. Deliciously healthy!

4 Young Coconut

YOUNG COCONUT
As an archipelago in the tropics, coconut is a common tree throughout the country. Young coconut could be used in lots of varieties of ice or simply enjoy its freshness plain. In this recipe I put mango syrup to add the flavor and basil seeds to add the texture. We can get basil seeds easily in Indonesian markets or supermarkets. Those seeds are needed to be soaked in hot water for a few minutes to get them fluffy.

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MIXFRUIT COCKTAIL
It is Non Alcoholic! But trust me, it is refreshing. I translate literally from the way we usually call this drink. To make it, I just boiled water with sugar. Cinnamon and cloves was then added to give the flavor. When the sugar has already melted, shut the stove off, pour the diced fruits (papayas and pineapple) let them covered and get cooled. Serve it chilled is the best way! A nice strawberry as a final touch is the cutest thing.

Keeping the tradition through KUEH LAPIS (Steamed Rice Flour Layers Cake)

I am not a person that really into traditional cooking. The long process and detail rituals are the main reason. In our culture, there are meanings in every ingredients, color choices, patterns and processes, even the purpose of making such a food. Therefore, accuracy, timeliness and patience are essential.

It reminds me to my childhood experience during my auntie’s wedding, where my grandmother had to spend the whole week to prepare the dish. Every day after school in that week, I saw some women working in the kitchen, making delicious and smell good things, and I just stared at them with water flooded in my mouth.

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Breaking through my laziness, I challenge myself to make one of those so called, “patience exercise”: Kueh Lapis, in English I would translate it as Steamed Rice Flour Layers Cake. Kue (in Bahasa Indonesia) or Kueh (in Chinese peranakan term) refers to many varieties of small food. It could be sweet or savory; snack or dessert. The most common method for preparing this traditional kueh is by steaming.

To make the light dough, I need sugar, coconut milk and two kind of flour to give different texture: tapioca flour for a light chewy texture and rice flour for density. Making this Kueh Lapis is such a time consuming. Each layer of the cake should be well steamed before another dough could be poured on the top of it.

If one layer at least needs 10 minutes, then we can calculate the whole time process from how many layers does the cake have, plus additional 20 minutes in the final for holistic set of the cake. As wise man says, there is no rose without torn; there is no beautiful and delicious sweet Kueh without any patience and time struggle. The moment of truth was when the kueh was released from the mold and I was waiting to see the layers result. However, I think it is worth the effort, but I won’t make it too often.

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A JOURNEY OF INDONESIAN TASTE: SATAY!!

The archipelago of Indonesia is the largest archipelago and one of most populous country in the world, with its more than 17 thousand islands and 230 million inhabitants. Indonesia stretches along the equator, whereas beaches, mountains, rivers, tropical forest, mega-politan cities, villages are enriching the beauty of the country.

Its vary ethnics background influences the cuisine culture of Indonesia for sure. One of the most popular dishes of the country is SATE or SATAY. Diced or sliced seasoned meat that is grilled in a skewer, made from bamboo, coconut palm frond or metal. The barbecued meat then is served with sauce from various spices and seasoning mixture.

US President Obama, who spent his childhood in Jakarta the capital of Indonesia, has mentioned SATAY as one of his memorable food, when he visited Indonesia in 2010. Each region in Indonesia will have their own characteristic for their SATAY, and here we shall start the journey!

1 satay padang copy LICEK

SATAY PADANG (West Sumatera)
What is prominent from this beef satay is its thick spicy sauce. The sauce is a mixture between turmeric, ginger, garlic, coriander, galangal and cumin. To blend all of these spices then rice flour and water is added. There are actually three types of SATAY PADANG, from three different regions in West Sumatera. They are differentiated by the color of the sauce: yellow, red, orange. The ingredient of the sauce and its taste of course are different.

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SATAY AMBAL (Central Java)
It is name of a District in Central Java. Once again, it is about the sauce. It has been from generation to generation that people in Ambal District has used tempeh (fermented soya cake) as the base for the sauce. Tempeh is grounded together with chili, shallot and garlic. It is uncommon, because usually most people will use peanuts. However, the free range chicken needs to be marinated for about two hours to ensure the flavor before they go to the grill.

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SATAY BANDJAR (South Borneo)
Banjdar is the name of a tribe in the southern part of Borneo. They live in a city called Banjarmasin. Satay Bandjar is a very popular variant of chicken satay. The amount of chili that is used in the recipe quite a lot that make this kind of satay is quite hot. The dish is usually served together with rice cake.

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SATAY BOEMBOE RUDJAK (East Java)
Another name is Satay Komoh, it is made from beef with sweet-spicy flavor, whereas the chunk of the beef is usually (or to be precise: must be) big pieces. To marinate the meat, we use shallot, garlic, red hot beauty chili, lime leaves and lemongrass that are blended together with a little bit of tamarind juice. It is such a bustling taste that is compatible with the characteristic of East Java People who speak and laugh loudly! This is a must element during the East Javanese feast. To grill the SATAY, the limb of banana leaves is used in each skewer to balance the heat from the grill.

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SATAY LALAT (The Island Of Madura)
LALAT/Laler is local dialect to refer flies! What? Yes flies. Worry not, it is just the title of the food. It is actually chuck of lambs that are cut into very small pieces just like flies flash. In one portion consists about 25 satay skewer. You will not getting full having these 25 skewers of super small pieces of lamb that looks like flies.
Originating from the island of Madura, the base of the black sauce is made from sweet soya sauce with palm sugar, garlic, deep fried shallots, peanut paste and shrimp paste. Raw thinly sliced shallot and chilies are the common condiment.

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SATAY LILIT (The God Island of Bali)
Balinese cooking is famous with its strong taste due to the use of some strong ingredients such as galangal, lime leaves, ginger, lemon grass. A satay variant with strong taste from Bali named Satay Lilit. It is made from mince fish that is mixed with the strong spices above together with grated coconut then wounded (lilit) around bamboo stick or lemongrass stick. This Satay is served plain, to emphasize the taste of the exotic spiced meat bursting in mouth.

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SATAY KARI VEGETARIAN
After exploring various taste of satay from several regions in Indonesia, it is time for me to go back to my kitchen. My mission of the day is to re-interpret satay that I enjoyed from around Indonesia. I combine some elements: the basic ingredients, the marinade seasoning, sauce seasoning and its condiment.

I chose vegetarian as the basic ingredients that also delicious to be grilled. I pick mushrooms, broccoli, eggplant and onions. I will bring together the marinade and sauce seasoning so it is simple and easy (also serve plain like Satay Lilit). The Kari choice is inspired from Satay Padang, but I remove the rice flour. I blend together shallot, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, lemongrass, cumin and very small amount of tamarind (just like in Satay Boemboe Rudjak). I stir fried the blended spices and marinade the veggie inside, put in the refrigerator. Leave it for one hour before they go to the grill.

Yes, it tastes similar to Indian food, but goes well with these grilled veggies. As my condiment made pickles from cucumbers, carrots, shallots (yes right, like slice of shallots in Satay Lalat) and red hot beauty chilies, to perform a combination of spicy-sweet-sour.

Hors d’oeuvres PARTYY!!!

Hors d’oeuvres! It means little snack foods served before or outside of (hors) the main dishes of a meal (the oeuvres). There are several related terms, such as a one-bite appetizer, an amuse-bouche, starters, they are also commonly called as appetizers. The food are served in the period between when guests arrive and when the meal is eaten.

But a party with bunch of these foods, why not? A bottle of sweet Red is a perfect companion! Slurps..

Tuna Cassava

Hors d’oeuvres 1: TUNA CASSAVA
I made this food inspired by a food picture of potatoes that is baked below a stir fried minced beef. So, what I did, I cut cassava round way about 1.5 cm width, on the top of it I put tuna that is mixed with mayonnaise, garlic, salt and pepper, a pinch of herbs. To finalize it, I dropped some mozzarella cheese, arranged it in a oil sprayed baking tray and left it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes!

Sausage Eggplant Roll

Hors d’oeuvres 2: Eggplant-sausage roll
Simple! Slice the eggplant length way, and proceed to “normal” SOP (Standard Operational Procedure for eggplant: sprinkle salt on every sides, leave for 30′ until the water from the eggplant comes out, drain and dry it up). Spread a bit of mustard, season it, sprinkle with some cheddar, put one sausage, roll it, stick it with a tooth-pick, bake it. Nothing is easier than this 🙂

Nasi Serundeng

Hors d’oeuvres 3: Nasi Serondeng (Coconut Rice)
I have this yum coconut sprinkle recipe from Mom. Few weeks ago I made coconut sprinkle for a dinner with friend, and realizing that I still have half bottle of it. I remember, I stir fried dried coconut crumb with spices: garlic, shallot, some chili, brown sugar and salt. So, for this hors d’oeuvres, I simply make a little ball from rice, round it on the coconut sprinkle, et voila! To make it pretty, I make a cup from baked wanton sheet, garnished with a romain leaf. Serve this pretty-yummy things!

Chicken Tapaz

Hors d’oeuvres 4: Mini Chicken Baguette
First, we have to make the chicken filling. Heat the oil in a pan, sautee onion and garlic, put the minced chicken, season it with pepper and salt, some rosemary, basil and thyme. Arrange the baguette, spread some generous amount of olive oil on each top, put some salad and tomatoes, add the chicken filling, as well as a bit of mayo to make it as pretty as the other food on the table.

Strawberry Balls

Hors d’oeuvres 5: Strawberry Balls
Nothing is more important than dessert! You can make it as simple as possible. So you make a massed sweet potatoes with a bit of cream and bit of butter, than you make a ball with strawberry and brown sugar inside of it, rolled it in bread crumb. You can make these little fellow like few days before the party, keep them in a plastic box and leave it in refrigerator. You can deep it fried, just few minutes before the guest are coming.

Sandalford Sweet Red Wine 2008

Here is the star: 2008 Sweet Red Sandalford!!