Eid-al Fitr, or, in my simpler spelling method, Idul Fitri, has just passed. A day of joy for many, albeit it being marred with the unfortunate Quran tearing in America and the assaulting of Christian religious leaders in Indonesia.
I have a few lessons of my own to learn this year. I think I had been too over-confident in cooking up several of the day’s dishes. I’ve forgotten basic things, and, to my horror, I even forgot to write that up in the previous entry regarding the eggplant-taoco recipe. The recipe has been corrected now, but I think that I will experiment more using tofu or egg in the future to prevent it from spoiling so quickly.
First vital lesson: Remove the seeds from the chilis. Unless you seriously want to harm someone. All right, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the hotness tends to drown other flavors anyway. Thus, all those rich spices will be a mere waste. I ended up picking the seeds off the dish afterwards so THAT might contribute to the swift spoiling process as well.
Second lesson: Do write your recipe carefully before uploading it and check twice before going to the market to shop. I ended up having to brave the rain to get those spices and the cooking took extra long. There were also other lessons that day, concerning the other dish: the cucumber peanut salad. That had been the first time I made it and the second time around was not so bad.
I will save that up for another entry though. This time, I want to talk about the staple
item to most people in Indonesia during Idul Fitri, or Lebaran, as some of us like to call it: the Ketupat. Ketupat is basically rice cubes cooked inside square cases made out of weaved coconut leaves. For the folks in Java, the item bears much resemblance to lontong or other shaped, cooked, rice dishes. Thus, it is basically just rice made into a square shape, and like rice itself, it needs side dishes and sauces to be thoroughly enjoyable for most (I know someone who likes to eat rice on its own).
But for many in Sumatera, the ketupat is a savoury dish capable of being self-sustainably flavorsome, because it is made of sticky rice and cooked in coconut milk. Thus, it can go solo and still be a rich, yummy treat. People tend to pair it with curries, or, for kids, syrup or sweet treats, though.
So, this year’s strategy was to fill up the coconut leaf cases with the sticky rice and
cook it in coconut milk a few days before Idul Fitri. The process took almost an entire day before the coconut milk gravy and ketupat are ready to be stored in the freezer. Then, on the day of celebration they are ready to be thawed. The gravy using the wok and ketupat steamed. This is indeed a delicious treat but it is also quite rich, which makes it a good item to have once or twice a year.
You can see the ketupat in its final form in the topmost picture along with other dishes such as the cucumber salad and the taoco eggplant stir-fry.
There’s also the special dessert of kolang-kaling. The sugar palm fruit cooked in syrup. This is actually available throughout the Ramadan month, but the one we had during Idul Fitri was a bit more special because it’s less sweet and more filling. Good company for syrup or shaved ice.