Saturday August 18, 2012
One can never forget traditional treats during Raya
COME Raya, you will see some treasured traditional cookies making their much-awaited appearances.
Old favourites such as Dodol, Wajik, Sagun Bakar, Kuih Bangkit, Kuih Goyang, Bahulu, Cakar Ayam, Batang Buruk, Samperit, Putu Kacang, Kueh Karas, Putu Pulut, Kuih Lidah Jin, Sagun (to name a few), never fail to leave a sentimental mark on the Raya table.
But of all these old favourites, dodol is a must and ranks high in the most sought after cookies for Hari Raya.
In fact, for some people Hari Raya without this delicious toffee-like delicacy is just not the same.
And dodol maker Huzir Abdul Hakim from Kg Ismail in Seremban, Negri Sembilan is one person who still believes in making dodol using the firewood, a skill that is slowly dying out.
Huzir inherited the dodol business, which goes by the brand name ‘Dodol Pak Itam’ from his father Abdul Hakim Musa, 70, who has been making dodol for the last 50 years.
‘Dodol Pak Itam’ has been the preferred dodol for many of his regular customers in Malaysia and overseas like UK, USA, Dubai, Australia, Singapore and Brunei because of its authentic taste.
“Though the simple ingredients like white sugar, gula melaka, glutinous rice and coconut milk are used the process of making dodol is very complicated and tiring especially when it is done during fasting month,” said the 37-year-old who left his job in MAS to do the dodol business full time.
The glutinous rice has to be soaked overnight and later ground using the millstone. All the ingredients are then mixed in a large iron cauldron using firewood.
“You have to stir gently to dissolve the sugar but once the batter is thickened, you have to stir it vigorously so that the bottom part will not get burnt. After slaving over the stove for six to seven hours, the dodol is ready to be scooped out,” he said.
According to Huzir, his secret of making tasty dodol is by faithfully following the traditional method.
“We use traditional method all the way from grinding the glutinous rice using the hand driven rice millstone, resort to the tender core of the upper banana tree trunk to control the fire and scooping out the burning coals throughout to get the right heat for the dodol,” said Huzir who has no plans to replace this traditional method with machines.
This year alone, Huzir who is also also a caterer, received a total order of 200 kilos of dodol.
Apart from Hari Raya and Hari Raya Haji, his dodol were also in demand during other festive seasons.
“Raya without dodol is just not complete somehow. To me, dodol, just like rendang and ketupat, is the pride of all the traditional delicacies,” said Huzir who also does traditional delicacies like Halwa Maskat and Wajik.
Other classic sweet treats that should not be missed:
This crystal-like jelly is only available in abundance during Hari Raya. The sugary coated jelly is very attractive and looks like colourful jelly. It’s quite easy to make. You just have to use the same method of making the normal jelly except that you have to use rock sugar. The more rock sugar you use, the more sugary the coating. And once the jelly is set and firm, you have to dry it out in the sun. The process of drying takes a few weeks.
Marina Abdul Manaf who runs the Warna Cakes & Cookies, makes dried jelly by the jars. “I’ve more orders than I can cope. The flavouring and colouring are optional to get the interesting and colourful shapes. If the weather is hot and sunny, the dried jelly will turn out really nice,” said Marina who also sells other traditional delicacies like Dodol Daun Palas, Kuih Bangkit, Semperit and Kuih Batang Buruk. She added, “Children especially love this dried jelly which looks like candy. When cutting the jelly, make sure you don’t cut too small because this dry jelly will shrink a little from its original size.”
Kuih Batang Buruk
True to its name, the appearance of this cookie is rather “ugly”. Probably that’s why it got the name the “ugly stick cookie”. Batang Buruk is a popular traditional cookie which actually consists of a dough that uses flour, rice flour, grated white coconut and fried green bean powder.
It is cylindrical in shape with a hole inside to stuff the green bean powder. You need skills to make batang buruk. First, you have to roast the green peas in a wok without oil.
Once cool, grind it together with castor sugar and put it aside. Then mix the flour, toasted coconut, rice flour, egg, baking powder, salt and margarine into nice dough.
Shape it and fry it turns gold. Once it cools down, stuff it with filling.
This is another popular Raya cookie. It is otherwise known as Butter Biscuit. The ingredients maybe simple like wheat flour, corn flour, custard powder, sugar and margerine but the balancing of all three ingredients that determine whether the Semperit makes the mark.
This Kuih Bangkit is mainly made of tapioca flour, egg yolk, icing sugar, butter and coconut milk. This cookie is hard from the outside but melts in your mouth.
To make this cookie, it is important to follow the step-by-step method real closely. First, dry fry the tapioca flour with pandan leaves on low heat until it is light and fragrant. Let it cool overnight. Discard the pandan leaves and sift the flour.
Beat the egg yolk and icing sugar until it is light and fluffy. Add in the coconut milk and mix it well. Last mix the sifted tapioca flour and knead lightly to form soft dough.
This is one tough cookie as it has a longer shelf life compared to other cookies. Kuih Bangkit is a really old favourite and its roots can be traced back to the post-war years.
Kuih Cakar Ayam
This crunchy Kuih Cakar Ayam is made from sweet potatoes and coated with heavy palm sugar syrup or coconut syrup.
All you need is palm sugar or gula Melaka, water, sweet potatoes (white or orange), cooking oil and pandan leaves. First, peel and grate the sweet potatoes. Dry out the sweet potatoes. Next, cook the sugar, water and pandan leaves. Remove the pandan leaves and fry the grated potatoes.
Pour the palm sugar syrup over the potatoes. Coat it well and mould it into round shape. Leave it out to cool.
Kuih Karas is another old traditional cake made of rice flour and is very popular in the north.
It’s made of rice flour, batter and sugar. The method is rather easy to follow. Just dissolve the sugar in hot water. Add the hot syrup into rice flour gradually to get a smooth, thick batter. Leave this at room temperature for half-an-hour. Heat oil in frying pan. Then pour some batter into a kuih karas mould (looks like Roti Jala mould) and move it in a circular motion to form a thin, lacy pancake in the hot oil. When it turns golden brown, fold it into half and allow it to cool.
Putu Kacang is more popular in Selangor. It is known as koya in Malacca. The ingredients are simple but the process isn’t. In fact, you only need green bean flour, sugar and warm water. Normally, the kneading takes two hours so that the flour can be mixed evenly. After this process, you have to put in a special mould and leave it to dry in the hot sun.