Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Javanese Delicacies in Kampung Sungai Haji Dorani Homestay, Selangor

Of course I have heard of Nasi Ambeng, Lemper, Punten, Getok and Ketiwol
There are certain districts in Selangor that are populated with Javanese and Minangs, I knew very little of their history and background, let alone their heritage, culture and customs. But the story that goes with it? Well, we learn new things everyday, don't we?

Seeking for a brighter future and from being colonized by the Dutch, the Javanese or masyarakat Jawa migrated from the island of Java in Indonesia to Malaysia. During this period; from 1880 to 1930, the Javanese population grew and migrated from Melaka to other state such as Perak and Kedah, while majority moved to Selangor, populating areas such as Tanjung Karang, Sabak Bernam, Kuala Selangor, Kelang, Banting and Sepang. Today, their livelihoods are highly dependent on agriculture; paddy field, coconut farm and coffee plantation. What makes it interesting is, up until now, is that the Javanese in Kuala Selangor still converse in Javanese language, upholding and practicing their Javanese culture and customs. These can be clearly seen in their ceremonies and delicacies especially, traditional art such as ‘kuda kepang’, ‘silat’ and ‘gamelan’; the few example of Javanese culture.

The earliest Javanese settlement in Selangor was in early 1900 at Kampung Sungai Haji Dorani, in Sabak Bernam district, Selangor. And here, where the culture and custom is strongly upheld, I get to sample some of the most authentic Javanese delicacies. Proud of their heritage, I was promised unique dishes that will make my mouth waters and new craving created. To sample all this unique delicacies, one can pay a visit to Kampung Sungai Haji Dorani on a day trip or choose to stay in the homestay to experience the local culture hands-on.

Nasi Ambeng
Nasi Ambeng (pronounce as ambeng not ambang) is a fragrant rice set consisting of white rice served with 7 types of side dishes - Semur-style chicken (or Ayam Masak Kicap), fried sambal with soya bean cake (tempe), fried noddle (Mee or Bihun goring), salted fish, crackers (Rempeyek) and coconut floss. These dishes vary according to clan or district. That said, the 5 -7 dishes served above are pretty common for the Javanese. What distinguishes it is the style of cooking, and the taste. Nasi Ambeng is as popular cuisine for the Javanese-Malay communities in Kuala Selangor and Johor, not to mention Singapore.

Originating from the Indonesian island of Java, Nasi Ambeng is usually prepared for festivities such as weddings, birthdays and thanksgiving (doa selamat). It is presented in a large tray or ‘dulang’ and each serving is meant to be enjoyed together by a group of 4 to 5 people. The Javanese - like most Malay ethnicities - are very communal, and the dish symbolizes this very unity and togetherness. The manner in which it is served encourages the act of caring and sharing among family members, friends and fellow villagers. The host prays for guests' well being before everyone starts eating, wishing for the abundance of wealth. Some say that the food is to be divided equally and the guests has to bring it home to be shared with their family members.

Nasi Ambeng is also seen to promote fairness and equality, hence the sharing in a single ‘dulang’. Locals believe that there should not be any differentiation between status, wealth and power because everyone is the same in the eyes of God. This is belief is strongly upheld by the Javanese-Malay communities as early as 1890 – 1900.

Normally served during festivities or as afternoon snack, lemper is made of glutinous rice with chicken or beef floss filling, sometimes grated coconut, it is then wrapped with coconut leaf. Some lemper in Java island is served as it is, grilled or fried.

A favourite breakfast food; nasi impit (compressed rice) served with sambal (chili paste). The different with this breakfast set is that the nasi impit is cooked with santan (coconut milk) unlike our usual nasi impit. It is also served with sardine, depending on one’s area or custom.

Getok Ubi
Made from pounded tapioca or cassava (ubi kayu) with brown sugar and grated coconut, it is one of the popular light snack in Sabak Bernam. This delicious delicacy is also popular in Singapore and readily available. A few other traditional getok that is also common in its native country is getok pisang, getok goreng, getuk lindri etc.

Ketiwol, tiwul, or thiwul is the staple food substitute for rice made from tapioca or cassava, similar to getok ubi. It is believed to prevent disease heartburn , stomach rumbling, and been used as staple food during the Japanese occupation.

The success of Dorani Homestay of Kampung Sungai Haji Dorani has created massive opportunities not only for the locals’ livelihood but also to highlight their exquisite heritage and culture. This great accomplishment has brought respective ministries together with Ministry of Tourism to assist in building and upgrading new communal facilities such as the activity center for homestay event purposes, training the locals on tourism and hospitality management as well as educating them on agricultural development; a concerted effort for the betterment of the villagers, homestay establishment and the wondrous state of Selangor.

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