Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 21 August 2012 • Destination
It was 2 days coming into Lebaran and Mum was stirring a pot of spiced rice. The rich smell filled our spacious house as it does every year during this season. Most Indonesians cook ketupat for Lebaran, rice in the form of a cube-like shape wrapped in coconut leaves. However, for the Makassar, Bugis, and most of the South Sulawesi people like us, we cook buras, which is rice cooked with coconut milk, herbs, and spices, wrapped in banana leaves. It’s rectangle and flat. Not to be chauvinistic, but burasa just works better with our tongue. It’s been my favorite wrapped carb and I think it will be for a long time. Muhaha!
As I wrapped the buras with plastic rope, Mum told me she had to flip the whole market to find the young soft foldable leaves, or as the Sundanese calls it the manggala leaves. No one really sells them anymore and if they do, it’s ridiculously expensive. Then, it hit met! It takes a lot of effort to make this little packet of rice. Besides the fact that you have to look for the materials, the process is a pain. You need to half-cook the rice with coconut milk, then clean the banana leaves to wrap it, then wrap it, then tie it with rope, then steam it again. To eat it, you have to cut the rope and un-wrap it. The energy used to enjoy it is equivalent to the caloric contents of the buras 😀 No wonder we Indonesians are skinny even though we eat rice!
Mum wouldn’t let me take hold of the whole process. She only made me wrap and tie the pack, as she does every year. She did all the cooking as you probably have guessed, but Imma good wrapper (Fo shizzle! Ma nizzle!). By this moment, I felt fortunate to know and be part of this process, as it is part of our tradition. Again, I’m reminded that Indonesian cooking takes a lot of work and time. Plenty of love accompanies the patience to make every delicious dish. This practice has been going on for ages and my hand continues this heritage, although I haven’t entirely inherited it.
I know that foreigners have a fear of Bali belly when traveling Indonesia, but I really hope that they take the time to taste the local food. Its recipes from our ancestors and most of them are still handmade without the help of food processors or other nifty gadgets. Like the buras, most of it is handmade.
With this I’m determined, I’ll master the entire process. I encourage anyone to do the same with their traditional dish. Hopefully, to then pass it to the next generation. But first! To find the father of that next generation! *fist pump*