It has been years since I last ate one “kee chang” (碱水粽) and decades since the last occasion when we made them ourselves.
Back then, we had to sort out the glutinous rice first. For some unknown reason, the “pulut” rice was always adulterated with perhaps up to 10% of ordinary rice. Maybe glutinous rice was much more expensive then, so the rice millers tried to make some unethical gains.
The family would gather around the dinner table, and painstakingly pick out the unwanted grains with a “lidi” (wooden skewer made from the spine of coconut leaves). But all that labour of love and rice discrimination was sumptuously rewarded whenever a piece of the cooked alkaline dumpling was opened and lo, before our eyes, was that glorious orangey-brown near-translucent bouncy pyramid of chewy temptation.
Make it yellow, sticky and lemak. And don’t forget the Curry Chicken, please. Folks, remember the Nasi Kunyit of old?
Long before pathetic western cakes became incomprehensibly (to me, at least) fashionable, the successful completion of the first month on Earth for a baby was celebrated with the preparation and serving of Nasi Kunyit – which is steamed glutinous rice, laced with santan and colored with turmeric, and stuffed with some pepper corns.
When eaten with thick Chicken Curry ( I preferred to add a little fine sugar), it was scrumptiously yummy yum yum! Of course at that time carbophobia was not yet invented, so no one was worried nor had any guilt-hangovers!
I remember that Nasi Kunyit was also a favorite serving on other festive occasions – as and when there was reason to get “high” other than Full Moons.