Ketupat, Southeast Asian Food Heritage

By: Sahrudin – @SahrudinSaja

We can simply identify and assert that ketupat is an authentic Indonesian food. But remember that the rice dumpling wrapped and cooked in woven coconut leaves pouch can also be found in different places of Southeast Asia as well, and has become an essential part of both their long culinary history and identity.

SERVED as staple food, as the replacement of plain steamed rice, ketupat has long been popular in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, and even in Vietnam.

Among Javanese (Central Java, Yogyakarta and East Java) and Sundanese (West Java) in Indonesia, the rice dumpling is locally known as kupat.

Magelang Regency and Municipality, the Province of Central Java, and Singaparna of Tasikmalaya, West Java Province, have their own famous local food called “kupat tahu” consisting of ketupat, fermented tofu or bean curd, and bean sprouts and cabbage served with peanut sauce and soy sauce.

Large ketupat-shaped statues have been built and soon become landmarks of Kandangan of Hulu Sungai Selatan Regency, given that “ketupat Kandangan” has become the most popular local food in the Province of South Kalimantan.

Besides ketupat as main food, ketupat Kandangan is consisting of grilled snakehead fish (locally known as ikan haruan or gabus) as side dish and spiced coconut milk.

From the Province of South Sulawesi, coto Makassar (the province’s capital) has also become one of many culinary options.

In the coto, again, ketupat as staple food is served with meat and innards cooked in coconut milk with spices.

Unlike any other place in Indonesia, where ketupat usually can only be seen and dished up during Eid Al-Fitr celebration; in Magelang, Tasikmalaya, Hulu Sungai Selatan, and Makassar, those local cuisines with ketupat as main food are easy to find, everyday, no matter when you visit.

In Thailand, some people call it katupat, while others remain refer to as ketupat.

In the Philippines, Marigold Lebumfacil wrote in The Philippine Star, ketupat has also different names: “patupat” in northern Philippines, “puso” in central Philippines, and “tamu” in southern Philippines.***

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