June 11, 2007

Sugar High Friday-Craving Something Traditional...

Well, apart from being in the right mood to crave to be creative, you can just look at my little basket from royal icing I made for my dear friend Ellen Grangier. Though this is not something to crave for, but it fills some craving in me to do something creative.

Anyway, the craving I've had which it's often coming back is chocolate and cream, and the other one is a traditionally home-made pudding which is made from the very finest rice flour my late grandmother used to make.

It is called Bubur Sumsum (rice pudding) which is eaten with palm sugar syrup. And I have fond memory of it as a child. It's a lovely memory of the warmth of kitchen and a wonderful moment I had had with my late grandmother. I don't know how much I have loved her, I just can't describe. She was just like my second-mother to me. She was always there when I needed my own mother while she could not attend to me. Well, it could have been worst if my mother had left me with maids, then what I have become now would not be the same.

My grandmother always wore kebaya and Javanese sarong (batik) with a cloth corsage around her waist, a traditional Indonesian dress. Her hair was always curled up behind her neck and tied up with tusuk konde (a Javanese traditional hair pin which can hold hair when it's tied up together). You can see in this picture of my wedding day where I wore kebaya and had the traditional hair-makeover (in the picture, the hairpins were all covered by fresh jasmines). It won't be the same as what my grandmother used to do, but at least, you'll get the picture.

In the morning, she would boil a kettle on a fireplace and brew a pot of jasmine tea in her kitchen which was not yet touched by gas or electric cookeries back then. She usually made this pudding for breakfast. Before going to bed, she usually ground rice using lumpang (a traditional rice mortar and pestle made from a log of wood with a hole in the middle to put the rice as the mortar and a long thick stick to grind as the pestle). When the rice was all ground, she would sift it and use the fine flour to make the pudding for the next morning.

She still did that when I was grown up and visited her sometimes in my teenage years. It was a pleasant experience really, to understand how to make the pudding from the VERY scratch but it was sad to actually think how this traditional pudding is only worth a few rupiahs a bowl, given how fresh the ingredients could be. However, nowadays, ready-made rice flour is available nationwide, and lumpang is not to be used to grind the rice anymore (I guess, the age of machine and technology makes everything is powdery and instant).

The thing about grandmother I remember is that we had a bond of who and what we are, the same interest of gardening and cooking which made us close. She was never a person who was telling me to do something she liked me to do. She, as a Javanese woman, was very conservative yet quite open to compare with women her age at that time. She always supported me on what I was doing, though sometimes she just could not help. She never went out of her comfort zone. She was very peaceful at where she was. I think she was happy. And I was happy being with her.

I was like a little company for her, doing things she liked to do and going out with. She to me was a provider of good food, a homey shelter, and a security love. The love that I unfortunately could not see the last time she had to go to her final restful place, and I regretted so much that I had had to be away from her.

However, I always love her. And I always remember her when I eat this pudding. Sometimes, I specially make it when I want to track back my memory lane where she was still there, then I can feel her near me and ask me if I have had my breakfast before we were going to the market.

And I still can dream about her when one day we were flipping over the photo albums page by page. I still can see her smiling at me, taking my hands when we were walking together. I still can smell her, her batik cloth, and the fragrant of jasmine tea. I still can feel her wrinkled hands and neck, recall the way she spoke, and the way she walked. Yes, I totally am missing her. I miss her home-mades, especially her rice pudding.

I believe I will always crave it for more and more, as love lasts. This is my entry for Sugar High Friday, created and this time is hosted by the lovely SHF creator herself Jennifer of the Domestic Goddess. You can send your entry to write about what you usually have when you're craving for something. The deadline is 25 June, 2007. It's not late yet!

Indonesian Rice Pudding with Palm Sugar Syrup

Source: Fatmah Bahalwan, NCC [Natural Cooking Club]

When I often missed my grandmother, I still didn't know how to make it until one day I texted Mbak Ine as I respect her being a traditional culinary expert who knows lots of traditional food. She then sent me right away the recipe through the group's mailing list. The tricky part of making this pudding is that you have to be sure to mix all the ingredients very well combined before putting the saucepan on the stove, otherwise you'll get lumps. Stick to it and keep whisking until you find a very thick paste.


100g rice flour (use the ready-made in Asian groceries, you'll find heaps!), 600-700ml coconut milk (I use 200ml coconut cream and 400ml water), 1 tsp salt, 1 pandanus leave (as I used frozen ones, I tend to use 5-6 cut leaves to give stronger aroma)

Mix all the ingredients in a saucepan. Make sure they are all combined until smooth, then cook on a medium heat until boiling (or until the mixture becomes a thick paste).

Palm Sugar Syrup

There is another version Mbak Ine told me about this syrup that she will add chopped ripen jackfruit to the syrup to give another flavour. I will stick to the basic syrup, I think it's flavoursome enough.

250g palm sugar, 1 cup water, 1 pandanus leave (again, I used 5-6 cut frozen pandanus leaves)

Cook all the ingredients until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is boiling. Pour through a clean muslin, set aside.

Cook and Eat Meat Reminder: the deadline is 16 June, 2007. Please send me your post to cookandeatmeat@gmail(dot)com.


Barbara said...

This sounds similar to my comfort food semolina. I'd like to have known your Grnadmother Arfi. She sounds wonderful.

Lynn said...

I love kabayas but this is the first time I've seen the elaborate hair piece. It's beautiful! Love the black and white photo of the pudding too. Looks nostalgic =o)

Arfi Binsted said...

Barbara: I haven't tried semolina yet. My grandmother was kewl! I regretted she passed away when I was studying at the university in another island. She was a wonderful woman.

Lynn: The pudding itself is nostalgic which always brings me back the lovely memory I had had with my grandmother.