Before the early 1970s, making a cake was somewhat of a hit-and-miss affair, having to deal with the unpredictable mood swings of a highly-battered dough taken to task in a charcoal-fired makeshift oven.
All that changed, when we bought a circular flat contraption called an “Ovenette”. After the dough was put in, and the cover closed, and the switch was flicked on, all that we had to do was to wait, see and smell.
The cover had a circular window on top through which we could see our rising expectations.
Though there was no temperature control for user manipulation, the results were usually very pleasing and palatable. At last we could have our cake and eat it as well.
These days, we have upgraded to built-in ovens in the kitchen, thanks to a wifey with very cakey tendencies.
The Ketupat of my youth has always been that scalene-triangular shaped piece of delicious pulut (glutinous rice), embedded with some beans and coyly wrapped in a kind of pale-yellowish leaf that was tightly-knotted at the tip (to prevent any untimely wardrobe malfunction, I suppose).
It was one of several kinds of favorite breakfast fare in those days, costing only 5 sen a piece. We usually ate them with a sprinkling of fine sugar.
Then, in later years some squarish pieces of stuff, wrapped even more conservatively, came into my knowledge as being a “staple’ during Hari Raya Puasa. But inside, they were just plain nasi and bland. And they called it Ketupat also. “Mana boleh?” I thought.
Thanks to gentle education by kind folks around me, yes, they are also ketupat but of another variety. I was ignorant.
What do you do when the nice ciku you brought home are not quite ripe to be eaten yet?
Folk wisdom in the kampong days taught us to put them on to the uncooked rice in the kitchen store – better still if fully covered with the beras. After a couple of days or so, the fruit would ripen nicely, ready to be savoured in full flavour.
Well, we have tried out with mangoes too – seemed to work also.
Did the beras provide a chemical catalytic reaction to hasten the ripening? Perhaps some biochemist can advise.
Meanwhile, I try not to be too cerebral about the inter-molecular workings; rather, focus on relishing the results and enjoy lah!
This traditional delectable delicacy is known by various names in different parts of Malaysia, but Penang folks call it “Ban Chian Kueh”. However, even that had undergone some mutation – resulting it being known as “Man Chang Kueh” (‘man chang’ means getting into mood swings and ready to throw tantrums).
In my youth days, this very sweet “pancake” was made in large pans (with diameters of approximately 2 to 3 feet), with thickness up to an inch. After the baking, two layers were flipped onto each other, and cut into smaller pieces for sale.
Nowadays, individual pieces are made in smaller pans (of about 10 inches diameter) and baked pieces are folded up for serving.
Never mind big or small – they are sweet, fragrant and altogether delicious and irresistable. Don’t worry about diabetes, eat first lah!
Be assured that I am not some kind of termite that relishes on eating cellulose – but in my younger days this Ubi Kayu featured prominently in my diet, or should I say topped my list of delicacies.
My late mum used to make our favorite Ubi Bingka, and some other types of traditional kuih. Perhaps it was cheap and stuffed up growling tummies quickly. Of course in those days, “carbo-phobia” was not in the English vocabulary yet.
My dad used to tell us that in the days of the Japanese Occupation, many people would have been starved to death had it not been for this “Good Wood That Was Food”. But too much of it caused swelling of the legs and feet.
Ubi kayu is also known as tapioca or cassava (not Casanova, lolx)
In those days when our daily bread was in the form of a big loaf – called Roti Benggali – some folks used to slice off the ends, and in fact all the crusts, and ate only the soft insides.
Many people still do this. However, they are missing out the best parts of the bread. In fact, when a new loaf arrives at my home (in pre-sliced form these days), I pick out the end pieces for a delectable breakfast. So while I enjoy my Love Without End, other members of my family can have their Loaf Without Ends!
Perhaps it has to do with my childhood training. I was taught not to waste food, nor even a grain of rice, not even a crumb of bread (let alone ‘huge’ chunks of crusty pieces).
Rummaging through my kitchen cabinet one day, I found this piece of magnificent ancient glassware. I guess it must have been with us for the last 4 decades or so – I might as well call it an artefact instead.
I am not sure what its correct name is – shall I call it Manual Juicer?
That same day I got hold of a couple of oranges, slit them in halves and then revived my hand muscles to get the juice flowing. Man, it was hard work – I really had to squeeze the fruit halves with all my might, while simultaneously rotating them around.
I remember it was a rather easy job 40 years ago. But this time round, my hand joints felt sore, and I had to rub in some analgesic balm afterwards for relief.