• Friday, 21 June 2024

Srikaya, a Malay-Chinese Peranakan Signature Spread

Srikaya, a Malay-Chinese Peranakan Signature Spread
Roti Srikaya with its signature golden-greenish srikaya jam. Photo source: Google Review

SEAToday.com, Jakarta-Thriving in the Southeast Asia region, coconut became one Southeast Asian kitchen staple and essential in adaptation of many dishes, one of them si coconut jam. According to the National Library Board of Singapore, this sweet and creamy spread, also known as Kaya in Singapore, goes by different names in Southeast Asian countries. In Indonesia and Malaysia, it is referred to as sarikaya or srikaya. The key ingredients include coconut cream, eggs, sugar, and pandan leaves. In Thailand, it is called sangkhaya, and the Philippines has an eggless version known as matamís sa bao.

Srikaya has been familiar to the Indonesian palate for a long time. But this specific jam came to the spotlight in Jakarta together with a distinctive dish called Roti Srikaya particularly in the Krendang area, West Jakarta. Singkawang city in West Kalimantan, where the Chinese Peranakan and Malay communities are predominant, is known for its version of Srikaya. The jam has a greenish-golden colour with a rich eggy and savoury flavour, often paired with pandan bread.

However, Srikaya's presence is not limited to Singkawang alone; it has spread to regions with Malay and Chinese Peranakan majorities, such as Aceh, North Sumatra, West Sumatra, and South Sumatra, each offering its unique variations. For instance, West Sumatrans feature ketan srikaya, a glutinous rice cake with srikaya custard, while South Sumatrans turn srikaya custard into pudding. In Aceh, srikaya jam is used as a filling for timphan, a steamed banana dumpling made from glutinous rice flour.

Ultimately, Srikaya or Kaya serves as a reflection of the shared Malay and Chinese Peranakan heritage in Southeast Asia, showcasing the richness of the region's soil and the importance of coconut. Instead of engaging in claims and disputes, embracing the value of this culinary tradition can contribute to its recognition on the global palate.

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