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Jakarta Post

Good old days of ‘kembang waru’ cookies

Tue, January 29, 2019   /   05:59 pm
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    Basiran and his wife make “kembang waru” dough made of eggs, flour, milk, margarine, vanilli and yeast. JP/Boy T. Harjanto

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    Basiran’s wife manages the heat of the oven and the furnace. JP/Boy T. Harjanto

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    Basiran’s wife puts “kembang waru” doughs into the oven. JP/Boy T. Harjanto

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    The already baked cookies are ready for sale. JP/Boy T. Harjanto

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    Cookies, fresh from the oven, are lined up on a tray. JP/Boy T. Harjanto

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    Basiran writes down orders from customers on a white board. JP/Boy T. Harjanto

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    The exterior of Basiran’s “kembang waru” store. JP/Boy T. Harjanto

Boy T Harjanto

Smoke billowed from a kitchen where a home industry was making kembang waru (hibiscus flower) cookies, a traditional cookie from Kotagede regency, Yogyakarta. A long brick furnace was used to oven the cookies using charcoal.

Basiran Basis Hargito, a businessman in Kotagede, said the cookies used to be served whenever people celebrated mitoni (Javanese prenatal ceremony held when an expectant woman is seven months along), selapanan (a post-natal ceremony held when the baby is 35 days old), manten (wedding) or lamaran (marriage proposal).

“Royal families usually serve kembang waru as a snack,” Basiran said in his home in Kotagede.

He recounted the origins of the cookie, explaining that it was created by a royal chef of the Mataram kingdom.

“There were hibiscus trees around the Mataram Palace. The trees were tall and bore many flowers,” he said.

Basiran and his wife have been making kembang waru cookies since 1983. They start baking early in the morning, usually making between 400 and 500 cookies a day. Each cookie is priced at Rp 1,800 (13 US cents).

The necessary ingredients to bake the cookies are eggs, flour, milk, margarine, vanilla and yeast. Even today, the couple still uses traditional baking equipment. Foreign tourists often come to their house to see the baking process. [yan]