Lamb for the Sacrifice
Id al-Adha, also known as Kurban Bayram or the Feast of the Sacrifice, falls on May 21 this year. In Mecca it is the culmination of the pilgrimage, the day the pilgrims sacrifice sheep to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to offer up his son on God’s command and God’s acceptance of a ram in his stead. (Muslims believe that the son who was ransomed in this way was Ismail--that is, Ishmael--rather than Isaac.)
On that day, Muslims around the world are also expected to sacrifice an animal. In practice, most make arrangements with a butcher who deals in halal meat from animals licit for Muslims to eat (such as sheep, goats or cattle) slaughtered in accordance with Muslim law. The meat is to be shared with friends, neighbors and the poor.
Americans tend to think of Islam as the religion of the Near East, but it long ago spread beyond the Arab countries and Iran. More than a third of all Muslims live in the Indian subcontinent (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh), and one-sixth, or 170 million, live in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world.
Sudi Mampir is a North Hollywood restaurant specializing in the cuisine of chef Mimin Rijker’s home, west Java. The decor actually suggests the predominantly Hindu island of Bali, but Rijker’s Islamic roots are indicated by the graceful Arabic calligraphy of a wall plaque and the note on the menu that only halal meat is served.
It may surprise some people that sheep are raised in the tropical environment of Indonesia, but they are, and Sudi Mampir always features lamb dishes such as miniature kebabs ( sate ) and gule kambing , a sort of curried soup. Mimin Rijker’s version is particularly vivid and spicy.
The traditional special-occasion dish of Java is tumpeng selamatan , a steep conical mountain of coconut rice surrounded with fried fish, fowl and meat, garnished with cucumbers, tomatoes and hard-boiled eggs. Lamb sate might be included, but gule would not be served with tumpeng selamatan , because it’s too rich--both the soup and the rice contain coconut milk.
In some parts of Indonesia you mix rice into your gule, but in western Java it’s traditionally served accompanied by lontong, which is a sort of rice tamale made by parboiling rice, wrapping it in bamboo leaves and steaming until done. Fresh galangal can be found in Thai markets, where it is called kha; fresh ginger can substitute. These days, fresh lemon grass is often available in supermarkets, and dried lemon grass is sold in Latin markets or food sections as te de limon. Candlenuts, daun salam leaves and fried onion flakes are available in Dutch or Indonesian import stores such as Ann’s Dutch Imports in Studio City.
JAVANESE CURRIED LAMB SOUP (Gule Kambing) 2 pounds lamb or kid leg or shoulder Water 4 candlenuts (kemiri) or macadamia nuts 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 1/4 teaspoon black pepper 1 (3-inch) piece fresh galangal or ginger, peeled and diced 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 stalk lemon grass, minced 1 tablespoon oil 1 teaspoon brown sugar, packed 2 teaspoons ground coriander 1 daun salam leaf or bay leaf Salt 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk (santen) 1 1/2 tablespoons fried onion flakes or 1/2 onion, diced and fried brown
Cut lamb into small pieces. Place in pot with water to cover, bring to boil, skim and simmer until meat is tender. Remove meat with slotted spoon and reserve cooking water.
Pound candlenuts into paste. Add red pepper, cayenne, black pepper, galangal, turmeric, cumin and lemon grass. Mix well. Heat oil in skillet and fry paste 1 minute. Add brown sugar, coriander, daun salam leaf, reserved cooking water plus additional water if necessary to make 2 1/2 cups liquid, and salt to taste. Cover and bring to boil.
Lower heat to simmer and add meat. Stir until meat is warmed, then add coconut milk and stir continuously until liquid is very hot (be careful: if coconut milk boils, it can curdle). Sprinkle fried onion into soup. Taste and correct seasonings. Remove daun salam. Serve with rice. Makes 6 servings.
Each serving contains about: 347 calories; 118 mg sodium; 78 mg cholesterol; 28 grams fat; 3 grams carbohydrates; 21 grams protein; 0.74 gram fiber.
These versatile little snacks look a little like peanut brittle but taste more like potato chips with peanuts in them. The name is pronounced rum-PEH-yek KAH-chahng.
PEANUT CRISPS (Rempeyek Kacang) 1/4 pound shelled peanuts 1/2 cup water 3/4 cup rice flour 1 teaspoon salt 2 green onions, green part only, minced Oil Split each peanut in half. Set aside.
Slowly add water to rice flour in bowl, little at time, stirring and mixing thoroughly. Batter should be thick but able to run. Stir salt, peanuts and green onions into batter.
Heat small amount of oil in skillet and simultaneously heat larger amount in wok. Drop 1 tablespoon batter, including some peanuts and green onions, into skillet. Fry about 30 seconds, then remove half-cooked crisp with spatula and put in wok to deep-fry. (You should be able to fry 3 to 4 crisps at a time.) Remove from wok when crisp and golden-brown, about 1 minute. Continue until all batter is used. Let cool before serving. Makes about 20 crisps.
Each serving contains about: 88 calories; 121 mg sodium; trace cholesterol; 7 grams fat; 4 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.28 gram fiber.