Newly-appointed Indonesian Consul General K. Candra Negara reveals his family’s Ramadan traditions
Is there any unique Ramadan tradition in your family which you would like to share with us?
We prepare Kolak — an Indonesian dessert made from pumpkin, banana or cassava with palm or coconut sugar, coconut milk, and pandanus leaf — during iftar. I specially love cassava Kolak and eat a small bowl of it instead of dates to break our fast. After that, we perform the Maghrib prayer. We usually eat a proper meal for dinner only after the prayer.
While I don’t get the opportunities to observe all the traditions now, I still enjoy following some of the rituals during the last two or three days of Ramadan, when I, along with my wife and children, visit my parents.
Cooking for iftar is all about recreating traditional family recipes. What are the highlights of an iftar menu in your family?
The first three days of Ramadan are very important in my family. My mother always prepares a dish called Ayam Bumbu Bali, a sweet and spicy chicken dish with a thick soup. The chicken has to be free-run for this recipe, otherwise it would taste different. Either my father or I slaughter one the day before Ramadan starts.
What are your best childhood Ramadan memories?
My favourite childhood memory is spending more time in the mosque during Ramadan. After tarawih prayer, we used to gather and hang around the mosque. When I was a kid, there was no school during Ramadan, so we could stay awake until midnight to play around the mosque.
Eid Al Fitr is a very special occasion in Indonesia. During our childhood, we used to visit our neighbours and relatives after performing the Eid prayer, enjoy many kind of snacks and collect the token money from our elders that we mostly spent on buying new toys.
What’s your signature dish to make at home during iftar for family and friends?
I love to cook the traditional black beef soup — Rawon — prepared with pangium or kulwak nuts, during iftar, as it is a delicious and unique dish from my hometown, Surabaya.
Kolak Labu Kuning
1. Peel off yellow pumpkin, and cut them into small cubes.
2. Steam the pumpkin for 7-10 minutes, or until the pumpkin pieces are tender.
3. Boil water and sugar over low heat until sugar is melted; turn off the heat.
4. In other pot, boil coconut milk, salt, and pandan leaves over low heat. Keep stirring slowly so it doesn’t get stuck to the pan. Turn off the heat.
5. Put steamed pumpkin into a serving bowl, add sugar syrup and the coconut milk mixture.