Ketupat is one of the not-to-be missed culinary items during Eid ul Fitr open houses. Ketupat is traditionally served by Indonesians with chicken curry, accompanied with spicy soy powder, and fried liver and tempe sambal. In normal occasions, Ketupat is usually eaten with rendang (a type of dry beef curry) or served as an accompaniment to satay.
Ketupat (not to be confused with Lontong) is a type of dumpling from Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines made from rice that has been wrapped in a woven palm leaf pouch which is then boiled. As the rice cooks, the grains expand to fill the pouch and the rice becomes compressed. This method of cooking gives the ketupat its characteristic form and texture of a rice dumpling. In Indonesia, ketupat sometimes boiled in thin coconut milk and spices to enhance the taste.
Local stories passed down through the generations have attributed the creation of this style of rice preparation to the seafarers’ need to keep cooked rice from spoiling during long sea voyages. The coco leaves used in wrapping the rice are always shaped into a triangular form and stored hanging in bunches in the open air. The shape of the package facilitates moisture to drip away from the cooked rice while the coco leaves allow the rice to be aerated and at the same time prevent flies and insects from touching it.
I remember the days when my mother prepared Ketupat. About a week before Eid, street vendor or seller in the market started to sell young yellow-greenish palm leaf to be used for Ketupat pouch. There was even vendor or seller who sell ready-to-use Ketupat pouch. For some reasons, my mother always bought palm leaves and made Ketupat pouches by herself. To be honest, I was never successul in making Ketupat pouch.
The real ketupat making was started one day before Eid. Ketupat pouch filled in with rice was cooked in very big pot. All those Ketupat were enough for at least three days food supply! Even after we shared with our neighbours.
In this modern day or when such palm leaves are hard to get (i.e. abroad), ketupat is cooked within a plastic bag. It makes then ketupat is more like lontong. This Eid, we are planning to make ketupat with all traditional companions such as chicken curry, soy powder, fried liver and tempe sambal. If this is not enough, I have been accepting Eid open hosues from many Indonesian friends who will also serve this not-to-be-missed Eid culinary.
Will update you soon with pictures and reports from open houses!