This year, Mother’s Day will be celebrated on May 8th in the US and some other countries like Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Australia, and Belgium. It is a time of commemoration and celebration for Mom. An opportunity for us to express our love and respect to our mother. It’s time to pamper her for all she has done for us over the years.
In my country, Mother’s day (or Hari Ibu) is celebrated nationally on December 22. It is the day of the first Indonesian Women Congress from December 22 to 25, 1928 conducted in Yogyakarta, Central Java. It was attended by 30 feminist organizations from 12 cities in Java and Sumatra. Feminist organizations have existed since 1912, inspired by Indonesian heroines of the 19th century, e.g. Kartini, Martha Christina Tiahahu, Cut Nyak Dien, Maria Walanda Maramis, Dewi Sartika, Nyai Ahmad Dahlan, Rasuna Said etc.
The idea to make the day official was started during the third Indonesian Women Congress in 1938. It was signed by president Soekarno under the Presidential Decree no. 316 year 1959. The day was originally aimed to celebrate the spirit of Indonesian women and to improve the condition of the nation.
Why Mother’s Signature Dish?
Most people remember one dish their mother made. It’s like an anointed memory because that dish is often our first real taste.
My Mom’s signature dish was not a fancy one, but it was the only true family recipe she left me before passed away: it is a simple dish called ‘Ayam Panggang Bumbu Rujak’ or Chicken Grill with Hot Sweet Spicy Sauce.
My Mom’s ‘Bumbu Rujak’ Chicken used very simple ingredients that together have the most profound of meanings for me. They make up my favorite chicken grill dish that my late-mother used to make for family lunches or dinners. Of all the home-style Indonesian dishes she cooked, it’s the one that most reminds me of her, it’s the one that most epitomizes her. It’s a strong dish that can stand on its own, yet it’s unfussy, it’s comforting, and it’s full of sweet soulfulness.
In my country, there are so many different recipes of Ayam Panggang Bumbu Rujak but none of them like the one of my Mom’s. What made my Mom’s recipe so special was that her recipe used the original ‘Bumbu Rujak’ (Sweet Spicy Rujak) ingredients.
The ‘Bumbu Rujak’ or Sweet Spicy Rujak sauce is usually poured on fruit salad. My Mom said that the original Chicken Grill with Bumbu Rujak Sauce used exactly the same basic ingredients of Bumbu Rujak sauce (chilies, roasted shrimp-paste, palm sugar, tamarind paste) with the only different was in the addition of coconut milk in the recipe for chicken grill (please see my first post published in October 2009 titled ‘This is the beginning’).
I still love my Mom’s original recipe and it’s still the best recipe ever but I modified the recipe in such a way so I can cook it in a more simple and quicker way without losing its original taste.
Here is my Mom’s Signature Dish reinvented:
- 4 pieces (around 100 gram each) of boneless-skinless chicken breast – note: my Mom’s recipe used boned chicken legs and breasts with skin on.
- 1 cup of coconut milk made from 100 gram coconut cream powder diluted in 200 ml water – note my Mom’s recipe used fresh coconut milk
- vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons chili powder – my Mom’s recipe used fresh chilies
- 1 teaspoon roasted shrimp paste
- 2-4 tablespoons shaved palm sugar or brown sugar (the amount of sugar depends on the sweet level each person likes hence can be increased or reduced)
- 1 teaspoon tamarind paste
To make the spice-paste
- Put all spice ingredients in a mortar and using pestle grind into smooth spice- paste. If it becomes too dry, add a little bit of water
- Brush each piece of the boneless chicken breast with oil then sear on a pan for 10 minutes or until the meat turn golden like this:
- Remove from pan and set aside
- When cool, slice the chicken breast into thinly slice like this:
- In a saucepan, marinate the chicken with the spice-paste until well mix
- Pour the coconut milk into the pan
- Cook on medium heat until the coconut milk is evaporated
- Stir well until the chicken is dry and fragrant
- Remove from heat
- Best served with warm rice
Happy Mother’s Day!