Food Shot: Dodol Cina or Kue Keranjang
Back in Bandung and most of Jawa Barat, people know this delicacy as "Dodol Cina", where dodol is the generic name of sweets usually made from sticky rice flour mixed with sugar and cooked to obtain the sticky chewy consistency. The "Cina" label signify that it is closely related with Chinese culture; indeed it is, as Dodol Cina are seldom found outside of Imlek celebration, a.k.a. Chinese New Year.
In Bali, following central and eastern Java custom, the widely recognized name is "Kue Keranjang", which freely translated as "Basket Cake"; due to its creation which uses basket shaped container made with leafs. The modernized version, as pictured above uses plastic wrapping instead.
Originally Dodol Cina or Kue Keranjang is called Nian Gao (年糕), and has it root deeply with Chinese New Year Celebration, and beliefs that it symbolize a year-long full with sweet live-moments. On a lighter and practical application, this cake is enjoyed in three way at least; as it is, steamed, and batter fried.
Consumed as it is, Dodol Cina or Kue Keranjang taste is dominated with sweetness, a little hint of the sticky rice taste and its fine grains, with moderate caramel taste; it is also very sticky and gluey. The drier version has more dominant starchy taste, and it also loses most of it's stickiness; it provides a more interesting eating experience in my opinion.
Steaming is usually applied when the Dodol Cina or Kue Keranjang has becoming over dry, as it can be stored for a long time when it is dried. Batter frying involves coating of medium-dried Dodol Cina or Kue Keranjang with egg and little flour, seasoned with a bit of salt then pan fried until it becomes moist and limp. This last method gives Dodol Cina or Kue Keranjang added layer of savoury richness into the sweet and starchy cake. Both steamed and batter-fried, the cake is sliced thinly first.
As alternative, people are also consuming it with shredded coconut, or even treat it as substitute for jelly jam to be used in other kind of cookies. Which one is your favourite? (byms)
About author: Bayu Amus
Bayu Amus is a gastronomic storyteller and food experience designer who created the Bali Food Adventure blog, Epicurina. He pens food articles for travel magazines and was part of the team who compiled Makansutra Indonesia, the pocket book which showcases Bali’s best street food.