Garuda Indonesia Colours Magazine March 2019 - Page 65

Explore | Flavours Light and refreshing as a dessert, yet satisfying and nutritious as a main course, bubur is an amazingly versatile dish with a philosophical backstory. The clock shows quarter to nine in the morning as I hear the familiar ‘ting’ sound from the street in front of my house. A regular hawker is passing by, tapping a spoon on a bowl to attract attention, his food cart fitted with a large aluminium stockpot, ice container and glass jars, selling bubur sumsum. Bubur means ‘porridge’, and sumsum literally means ‘marrow’; the creamy, coconut milk-boiled rice flour is pure white, like marrow. Bubur sumsum is typically served after a wedding party or traditional ceremony. As it symbolises strength, this is believed to help those who participated in organising the party to regain their energy, as well as being a means of expressing gratitude from the host. Nowadays, bubur bought on the streets often gets a little twist. Pandanus leaves give bubur sumsum a green hue and vendors serve it with ice cubes. You can also get bubur candil (made from glutinous rice and tapioca flour or sweet potato) and bubur mutiara (sago pearl pudding). “Serving only sumsum is less appealing to the customers,” explained the hawker, when I asked about the two other bubur variants. “As you can see, the green sumsum, the brown candil and the red mutiara, dressed in melted palm sugar and coconut milk sauce, make a feast for the eyes as well as the palate,” he added. The combination also enhances the richness of taste. As a matter of fact, this kind of bubur combination is actually similar to bubur madura, a speciality of Madura Island, off the northeast coast of Java, missing only bubur ketan hitam (black glutinous rice pudding). However, when you combine bubur sumsum with ice cubes, cuts of steamed plantain, red cocopandan syrup and condensed milk, you get yourself an es pallu butung, a delight of Makassar, South Sulawesi. This simple dessert is quite the favourite on a hot day, and you can either make it yourself at home or buy it from street vendors. Marvellous Treats with Messages Indonesians divide bubur into two categories: a sweet porridge eaten as dessert, associated with traditional rituals, and a savoury version eaten as a main course. The sweet taste of bubur candil, also known as kolak biji salak, or jenang grendul in Solo, Central Java, for instance, is a kind of dessert served at family gatherings. The sweet, chewy balls – made from glutinous rice flour and tapioca flour 1 or sweet potato, with melted palm sugar and coconut milk dressing – are symbols of living in harmony, despite the diversity of life. 2 Bubur ketan hitam, also known as ketan item or bubuh injin in Bali, has a symbolic meaning as well. Just like the sticky, hard-to-part nature of glutinous rice, the dessert is a reminder (perhaps a wish as well) that a good, not- easily-broken relationship should be maintained. Glutinous rice is also presented during a traditional Javanese engagement party as a reminder to the future wedded couple to always stick together and not easily be parted, just like ketan! Bubur ketan item is perfect to enjoy as a sweet treat in the morning, at tea time, or indeed at any time of the day, either with the addition of ice cubes or served warm. It is so ubiquitous that you can easily find it being sold from food carts, tent shops or warungs (small shops). Bubur ketan item is often presented with bubur kacang hijau or bubur kacang ijo (Indonesian mung-bean congee), topped with coconut 1 The balls of glutinous rice are symbols of living in harmony. 2 Luscious Maluku papeda, served as a main course, with side dishes. 63