Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ketupat Galore - When the boys took over the kitchen

You know, I had given up cooking since coming back from my undergraduate study in the mid-80s.

I seldom, nowadays, be in the kitchen, unless I need to fry egg or - what else - french fries. Beyond that, I leave the kitchen pretty much to the wife. I am the controlling type, so for a non-cook, that's not advisable.

Especially if one were preparing for Raya meals.

In Taiping, it is a non-issue. I would almost always not be welcome in the kitchen. No, nothing wrong with me per se, but since we have big families - 13 to be precise, even if half of the siblings and spouse were to turn up, the kitchen would be filled up to the brim with the sisters, and the wives. So I would not have my day in the kitchen, even if I wanted to.

The only thing I would dictate is for us to have is the ketupat. You dont have to have anything else. Just have ketupats.

That's all. I am that easy to please, right? ;)

Beyond buying the pouch, or the leaves for someone to weave them, I would normally be sitting on the couch in the living room.

Or if I have my way, sleeping. :)

So this year in 2012, with mak not in the best of health, we had no choice but celebrate Raya in KL, which is what I have been planning or wanting to do for years. With her being discharged only at about 3 pm on Raya eve, we were not going to be celebrating it the normal sumptuous way.

So I volunteered that I will make the ketupats as I am the hantu ketupat in the family. The rest of the sisters have been busy taking care of Mak and I was sure they would not have the time to cook much. And not at home either since wifey would be busy with the rendangs. 

I had no choice but to summon the boys to help me out.

I had bought the pouch the day before near the mosque at Bandar Tun Razak, so weaving the pouch was a non-issue. The question is to get someone to fill up the pouch, and that someone would have to be Arif and Akmal.

It is no big deal, or so I thought.

So how much do we fill the pouch (with rice)?

So I sent a quick message to my sister.  "More than half,"came her reply.

Half? Hmmm, somehow I have the impression that it should be three quarter. So not satisfied with her answer since it contradicted what I have in mind, I quickly google for help.

"How much rice does one put in the ketupat pouch?" I asked Lebai Google.

This is a very important question. Put too much, and it will be hard, or even undercook. Put too little, and it will be too soft. The texture has to be right - soft but kenyal. It should be elastic if one were to press against it. Anything else, it would be out of order.

Looking at two blogs, they were contradictory. One agrees with me - three quarter full, another with my sis - more than half. But 3/4 is also more than half, and even filling it up to the brim is still correct then. 

So I decided to follow my instinct - my cooking instinct!

Akmal, looking very hungry,
filling up the pouch on his dad's order
"OK Akmal, so fill it up up to three quarter full," I directed Akmal. I was decisive, I thought I should be appointed a chef soon.

In no time I would be a celebrity chef.

Yeah, too obvious, cooking is in my vein.

The ketupats unfortunately came out too hard. It was well cooked, since we boiled it for more than 5 hours. But it was a tad too hard for my liking, so I did not enjoy it that much. My ketupats have to be perfect. And if they were, I could eat them for days.

But I got no one else to blame except myself.

Much of my ketupats went to waste.

And I did not enjoy other people's ketupat that much either. I simply refused to give theirs a try, as I knew I would be too jealous if theirs were perfect. I was sure theirs were as bad as mine, so why bother trying.

That was the kiasu side of me thinking, I guess.

But give credit to this old blogger. He also pan-fried the peanuts, and then pound them to prepare kuah kacang. He did all he could for his share of the raya dishes this years.

In consolation, at least, I did give it my best shot, and I guess with this experience behind me, I will make the perfect ketupats for Raya Haji in two months.

That I am positive, and I am confident!

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