Introduction: Artistic Indonesian Rice Cone (Nasi Tumpeng)
Tumpeng or cone-shaped delicacy is often served for parties, from baby shower, birthday, engagement, wedding, any other celebrations and/or just because.
Common tumpeng is made of rice either yellow rice (nasi kuning) or white rice (nasi putih), cooked in coconut milk with spices and screw-pine leaf, so they are not just tasty, but also fragrant.
Tumpeng is made by molding the rice and the serving plate is almost always covered with banana leaves. It is always accompanied with meat, chicken, patties, noodle, egg and such, and decorated with pretty vegetables.
Indonesian also make dessert type tumpeng (I uploaded a picture of sample as well) which of course is nothing but sweets extravaganza :) Some people also make tumpeng out of noodle and vegetable infused rice.
Modern style tumpeng is shaped as Barbie doll, Angry Birds, and other kids characters.
Step 1: Tumpeng Mould
My first tumpeng was actually a dessert tumpeng (picture in one of the steps). And since tumpeng is molded with a cone shaped mould, which is not available overseas (sometimes available online though), Indonesians residing overseas brought along a mould purchased in Indonesia. Packing into a luggage can be tricky for an international flight, so I never got a mould from Indonesia. For my dessert tumpeng, I used birthday hats from Dollar store hahaha
Later my husband and I found a tomato colander and we both thought, that should do it! And I have been using it for my tumpeng ever since :)
All you have to do is shaping a banana leaf into a cone shaped and place in the inside of your colander.
Step 2: Variety
As I typed earlier, there is dessert tumpeng, tumpeng with white rice and tumpeng with yellow rice. Here are a couple of pictures to show you.
Sometimes tumpeng can also be shaped as square-tiers and round-tiers, not just cone-shaped and/or other character shaped from a cartoon/anime.
Dessert tumpeng mainly uses mashed cassava or glutinous rice (sweetened) as the main cone-shaped dessert, which then surrounded with other type of sweets. On my picture, you can see green roll cake (filled with coconut), pink cake called kue-ku, sometimes filled coconut while other time with sweetened beans, Indonesian dollar pancake called serabi and individual cheesecake in cupcake liners. This is only an example. Other desserts can be added for sure, depending how big your serving plate is :)
For main course tumpeng, sometimes whole grilled or fried chicken is added while some other time would be chicken pieces.
Step 3: Simple Cucumber Flower
Tumpeng decorations as I mentioned before, is usually made of vegetables, carved or shape as flowers, trees, or fence.
Here is an example for making cucumber flower, which with the same method you can use for bell pepper and/or tomato
Make a zigzag incisions as shown on picture, up and down, then pull up/down the part slowly and your flower is ready.
With cucumber, you can also slice long and thinly the skin, and just roll it like a ribbon to shape a rose. With the same method, you can use tomato to make tomato rose.
If you are super artistic with vegetable carving, you can create more elaborate and prettier flower from cucumber, where you need a special tool for it.
A cookie cutter can also be used to make flower especially out of carrot and cheese.
Radishes can be carved into flower and/or mushroom.
Chinese long bean is usually what the Indonesian use to make a fence, secured with tooth picks.
Step 4: Chili Flower
Either with red bird eye or green chili, you can also make a flower.
Slice half as shown, take out seeds carefully (if you like, you can put on gloves). Once seeds are out, slice more so you would get at least 4 petals.
Soak this flower in ice cold bath. This to ensure freshness and also helps to keep the shape.
Step 5: Lettuce Flower
With the same method, where you slice close to the end of the vegetable as shown, you can also create celery end flower, bok choy end flower.
See last picture on last step, there is vegetable end flower.
Step 6: Green Onion Flower
Another vegetable to use to make pretty decoration is green onion.
Wash clean an onion, slice off the root and green parts.
Slice onion as if you were peeling a banana.
With the knife, pull each slice into a petal as if you were doing it with plastic ribbon, so petals would curl
Soak this in ice cold bath to keep it fresh and keep the shape nicely
Step 7: Ingredients and Method
I am typing not just the cone shaped rice recipe but also a few of the common dishes that accompanied it.
Yellow Rice (Nasi Kuning):
Dont use basmati, jasmine or parboiled. I haven tried it with brown rice but I'd say it would work too. I have tried with rice cooker and it worked as well. For this time I don't use screw pine (pandan) leaf as I know it can be hard to find in North America.
And oh! I am using two kinds of rice and the reason am using two kinds of rice is....because I can ;-) I know some would use mixed, some more use only long, while others would use only short grain rice.
2 L rice (regular long grain rice mixed with sticky rice)
3 cans of coconut milk @ 398 ml
4-5 kafir lime leaves
2 lemongrass, bruised and knotted
1-2 thumb size fresh ginger, skinned and bruised
Salt as needed
4 tbsp turmeric powder
Soak rinsed rice in enough water to cover them with 2 tbsp of turmeric, stir and let stand for half hour. Drain. Steam rice for 45 minutes.
Simmer coconut milk with the rest of the ingredients and pour in steamed rice and turn off heat.
Stir to mix well until all milk absorbed. Steam rice again for 1 1/2 h.
Ready to mold (you can eat it as is though, accompanied with side dishes or as is)
Molding the rice should be done when the rice is still hot. Line the inside of your mold with clean banana leaf (wash and pat dry), lining into the shape of the mold
A rice spoon at a time, press the rice into the mold, pressing them very tightly. Fill up the mold to the rim.
Leave the mold upside down for half hour before unmolding.
Banana Leaf For The Serving Plate:
With a scissor, cut the leaf to the size of your serving plate. You can also decorate the banana leaf by cutting into square/rectangular portions, then roll each into cone shape as for piping bag, then flatten it, so you would create triangles. Secure these triangles with tooth picks
Potato Patties (Perkedel Kentang):
500 g potatoes, skinned, cubed, fried, and mash while still hot
Add in salt, ground white pepper, garlic powder, freshly grated nutmeg
2 egg whites
1-2 green onion thinly sliced - optional
1 tbsp fried onion, store bought - optional
Mix everything, shape into patties, roll on beaten egg whites and fry
Spicy Beef Stew (Rendang) - many of these spices are available at Asian stores, Canadian Wholesale Club, or online
1.5 kg beef, cubed, brown and drain, set aside (you can use elk, moose, deer)
1 medium size onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
1-2 tsp galangal powder
5-6 candle nuts
1 tsp Asian hard shrimp paste, roasted (terasi)
1 small thumb ginger, skinned 7 red bird eye chilies
2 tbsp olive oil or veg. oil is fine
5 tbsp water
1 thumb of tamarind paste, soaked in 1/4 c hot water, strain and collect the water
5 kafir lime leaves
4 salam leaves (you can use bay leaf)
1 stalk of lemongrass
2-3 cubes of beef/chicken knorr
700 ml hot water
3 tbsp Dutch sweet soy sauce
1 tomato, sliced/chopped
Heat a lil oil and saute spice paste and leaves and stalk until fragrant
Add in browned meat and stir to coat
Add in hot water and let it boil
Turn down heat to medium, cook for 20 minutes
Turn down heat to low, stir and add in knorr cubes, cook for 15-20 minutes
Add in tomato, cook for 10 mins
Add in tamarind water, stir, then pour in sweet soy sauce. Cook for another 15 mins or until water level is low and tomatoes dissolved.
Acar (Indonesian cucumber pickles):
Green bird eye chilies
Salt, sugar and vinegar
No measurement here. All you have to do is slice skinned carrots into matchstick sizes, place into a bowl.
Slice round cucumbers without skinning them, and cut the outside of each round into 4 sticks, throwing away the middle part (seeds), place into the bowl.
Quartered onion (if you shallots, they are perfect, if not, onion will do).
Add in as many green chilies as you like.
Pour water salt sugar and vinegar, stir to combine.
Adjust flavor, let stand in the fridge for at least 2 h or overnight.
Grilled Whole Chicken (Ayam Panggang)
1 whole chicken
Sweet soy sauce as needed
1 thumb length of tamarind, dissolve in 1/4 - 1/2 c hot boiling water, discard the seeds
Sugar and salt to taste
1 medium size onion
4-6 garlic 6 bird eye chilies, more if you like it spicy
1/2 tbsp turmeric powder
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 c water
Grind onion, garlic, chilies, candle nut, oil, and water into a fine paste, mix in turmeric powder
On nonstick pan, saute paste
Add in rest of ingredients, stir well
Place cleaned washed whole chicken into the pan, coat with spices, inside and out.
Turn chicken over to coat the other side as well
Cook until thickened and water much much lessen
Place chicken on a baking pan and bake for 1 1/2 h on 350 F, or until chicken juice is clear
Bihun Goreng (fried mung bean noodle/clear glass noodle:
Heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil and brown 250 gram ground chicken, set aside
Heat 1-2 tbsp of olive oil, and scramble 3 beaten eggs, set aside
1 package of mung bean noodle, soften in lukewarm water, drain, coat with 3-4 tbsp sweet soy sauce
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil and saute paste of 1 medium size of onion with 3 garlic
Add in the rest of the ingredients (you can also add cubed carrots, peas, corn, mushroom), stir well
Add in seasoning such as Royco brand or Vegeta brand (or just as simple as salt and a little white pepper)
Drop 3-4 drops each of soy sauce and sesame oil
Just before taking off from heat, stir in sliced/chopped green onion and parsley (not the curly ones tho!).
If you can Asian celery, that is also yummy to add.
Basically, you can add many side dishes for this cone shaped rice :) Sometime you will find sliced omelet, spicy hard boiled eggs, soy bean goodies like tempe and tofu.
Assembling The Whole Thing
Once you decorate the serving platter with banana leaves, unmold the rice in the center and surround it with the meat and such, then place vegetable decorations here and there.