Muslims should stay away from food and drinks during Ramadan – well, at least from dawn until dusk. As soon as the sun sets, they can indulge in succulent dishes especially prepared for the holy month.
A trader arranges snails at a market in Banyumas, Central Java. Demand for escargots jumps during Ramadan. Rising star:
Each region welcomes this time of spiritual purification with a particular culinary tradition. In Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, the country’s westernmost province, residents share various beef-based dishes with their relatives, neighbors and the less fortunate — a tradition that goes by the name of meugang.
People living along the coast might prepare those dishes ahead of time and eat them over the holy month so they can devote themselves solely to God during Ramadan. These delicacies include beef rendang (simmered for hours in coconut milk and spices), smoked beef and dendeng (thinly-sliced, dried meat).
With all this demand for meat, the price of beef tends to double during Ramadan. In the country’s only sharia-based province, it can reach up to Rp 120,000 ( US$13) per kilogram — compared to Rp 80,000 in Jakarta.
While the Acehnese celebrate Ramadan with beef, residents of Banyumas, Central Java, tend to go for the snail curry, also called gulai kraca.
People there rarely eat snails, as they normally use them to feed ducks. But during the holy month, escargots become the most prized ingredient for their fast breaking meal.
Meet the meat: Traders and buyers meet in pasar kaget Beurawe. JP/Hotli Simanjuntak
Preparing gulai kraca takes time since live snails — which taste better than dead ones — are left to soak for five hours in water. The creatures are then cooked in boiling water before being marinated in coconut milk, onion, garlic, pepper and several spices.
Because local traders often cannot meet the demand for snails during Ramadan, vendors from the neighboring regency of Demak come to the rescue . “We usually get 10 tons from Demak each week,” Sugiarti, a trader in Karanglewas district told The Jakarta Post.
The snails are then packed into small plastic boxes, each containing about 12 snails. Two ounces cost Rp 2,000.
Still in Central Java, a mosque in Kampung Jayengan, Serengan district, Surakarta, serves bubur samin (ghee porridge) each Ramadan to break the fast.
Nobody knows precisely when the tradition started, but the mosque board chairman Rosyidi Muchdlor said the grandparents of nearby residents, who were precious stone traders from Martapura, Banjar regency, South Kalaimantan, had brought the dish to the area 70 years ago.
Free meals: Bubur samin is served in front of a mosque during fast breaking.JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi
“I have been eating bubur samin since I was a kid,” Rosyidi said.
The dish consists of rice, beef slices, carrots — cooked with several spices, onion leaves, milk and ghee.
Bubur samin, snail curry, rendang and others make the Ramadan holy month a special moment. The fasting month is not only about hunger and thirst , but also about delicious food.
Hotli Simanjuntak, Agus Maryono and Ganug Nugroho Adi contri-buted to the story from Banda Aceh, Banyumas and Surakarta.