Thursday, May 13, 2010

Making Tumbuk in Tuban

“When the President visited us, he liked the tumbuk so much he ordered 150 more to take back to Jakarta. I ground rice into flour all night long in order to deliver.” Ibu Sulikayatun, Village Head of Sawir, central Java makes tumbuk: a local sweet snack made of rice flour, coconut milk, and palm sugar served in a steamed lontar leaf. “The trick to good tumbuk is the leaf,” Sulikayatun advised, stirring a bubbling cauldron of palm sugared milk.
On the floor of the open air kitchen, Sulikayatun’s mother, Ibu Suwarti, sat spinning long green lontar leaves into tight cone spirals.
Knife in hand, she sliced off the tops and tails of the leaves, folded the end of a leaf into a pocket and coiled the leaf length around and up itself. A second leaf was wound into the spiral cone extending the length.
To secure the cone, the top end of the leaf is stabbed through itself, pinning the spiral, locking it from unravelling.
“Coconut leaves won’t stand once they’ve been steamed,” Sulikayatun explained. “But lontar leaves retain their shape and strength, and give flavour to the tumbuk.” Tumbuk can also be flavoured with ginger or jackfruit.

Taking the tray of lontar leaf cones from her mother, Sulikayatun placed them over a kerosene flame until steam rose through the leaves. She filled each hot cone with the milky mix, and left them to steam for half an hour.
When set, tumbuk has the consistency of jelly. The leaf can be unpinned and unwrapped, revealing the hot golden tumbuk column. It’s warm, sweet, gently flavoured and tastes like set custard.
"Tumbuk takes a long time to make, and a short time to eat," Sulikayatun said, biting into a second one.

They sell for Rp. 1,000 a piece (10 US cents).


  1. So glad to see these rich photos up for the public eye - what an excellent blog! Great concept! Great writing! Maju teruuus!

  2. Thanks Chad! It's fun! Where's your blog? How do we find it?

  3. I don't think Portland has a Tumbuk cart .....yet. Indonesia. It's not far is it?