‘Kicak’, a special Ramadhan-only snack from Yogyakarta
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If you happen to be in Yogyakarta during the fasting month of Ramadhan, you may find it worth rumbling through a narrow ally in the downtown area of Kauman village to visit a special afternoon market that is held every day.
There you will find a special snack called kicak, which is made of sticky rice, which can only be bought during Ramadhan in Kauman, a stronghold of the modernist Muslim organization Muhammadiyah.
“I only produce kicak during Ramadhan. It won’t sell outside the fasting month,” Sujilah, a kicak maker, said earlier this week.
Better known as Mbah (Grandma) Wahono, the 75-year-old Sujilah claimed to be the creator of kicak. Although many kicak makers now operate in the village, they only produce the snack during Ramadahan, making it one of the most sought-after foods at the annual afternoon market.
Sujilah said she had been producing and selling kicak every Ramadhan since the 1950s at her house, which is located near the house of Muhammadiyah founder K.H. Ahmad Dahlan.
Yet, due to her old age, she does not prepare the snack by herself, but has come to rely on the assistance of two female helpers. “It’s easy to prepare kicak,” said Walidah, one of the helpers.
Kicak is made from steamed sticky rice, mixed with steamed grated coconut, sugar, vanilla and small slices of jackfruit. It is served in small potions, usually in banana leaves or other packaging materials.
Sujilah usually starts production at 11 a.m. and finishes in just two hours. She uses 13 kilograms of sticky rice, three kilograms of sugarcane sugar, half a kilogram of jackfruit and 10 coconuts to make 300 packs of kicak. She sells it wholesale for Rp 1,750 (18 US cents) per pack. Retailers then sell it on for Rp 2,000 each.
The kicak that Sujilah produces is well known for its delicious flavor, so much so that local retailers often sell their entire stocks quickly, according to Aminah, an area vendor.
What makes Sujilah’s products different from those of her competitors is not only the taste, but also the package. While others mostly use plastic packaging to sell the snack, Sujilah still sells her creations wrapped in banana leaves.
“Banana leaves also keep the kicak fresh longer,” Sujilah said.
Rini Bambang Hartadi, a housewife from Nogotirto, Sleman, Yogyakarta, said she came to the afternoon market just to buy Sujilah’s kicak.
“I only buy kicak made by Mbah Wahono. I always miss the taste,” said Rini, referring to the popular nickname of Sujilah.