The Love Story of Karambia and Lado

How coconut and chilli go together to make an essential Minang flavour

By Indonesia Gastronomy Network

Written by Reno Andam Suri (Rendang Traveler)

Coconut Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Karambia

Karambia is Minang language for coconut. Throughout our journey in West Sumatra, the coconut trees are available everywhere, not only by the beaches, but in the mountains, by the rice fields and on the lakeside. It's an everyday sight for the Minangese.

Coconut Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Santan sound
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It is only natural for majority of Minang dish uses santan or coconut milk on almost all of their dishes. Their coconut milk options are varied and thus creates distinct flavors to their dishes.

For instance the flavor of coconut milk coming from the darek area (mountain area) are less sweet and less fatty compared to the coconut milk flavor coming from the pesisir area (beach area). 

Coconut Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Retrieving coconut milk the traditional way

This is at Mak Adang Sani's house, a traditional tool that is now a rare find is used to skin off the outer layer of the old coconut.
The shape is a combination of cleaver and crowbar plugged on the ground.

Rendang Ingredients (2013) by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

This is the coconut ready to be cracked open and its flesh to be grated.

Coconut Archive, Reno Andam Suri, From the collection of: Indonesia Gastronomy Network
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Grated coconut, Reno Andam Suri, From the collection of: Indonesia Gastronomy Network
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Coconut ready to be fleshed out and grated.  

Coconut Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Ways to attain the milk out of the coconut...

Traditionally there are two ways in attaing the milk from coconut, by squeezing and by pressing. 

Coconut Archive, Reno Andam Suri, From the collection of: Indonesia Gastronomy Network
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Coconut Archive, Reno Andam Suri, From the collection of: Indonesia Gastronomy Network
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Coconut Archive, Reno Andam Suri, From the collection of: Indonesia Gastronomy Network
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Squeezing coconut milk using cloth strainer. 

Coconut Archive, Reno Andam Suri, From the collection of: Indonesia Gastronomy Network
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A local equipment called kacik made of wood and uses body weight to get the coconut milk.

The grated coconut is mixed with a bit of water, folded inside a piece of cloth and put in between the kacik base. The person would then sit on top of the kacik to press out the coconut milk. The green bowl at the bottom would contain the milk.

This kacik comes in different sizes according to the body size of the user and only works if it is in balance.



Rendang Ingredients (2013) by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Lado

Let's imagine a world without chilli. No, this is not possible!. Lado or chilli is an integral part to Minang society and therefore its dishes. There are nuances of chilli in every Minang dishes, like balado, asam padeh and of course rendang.

Market scene in Padang by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

How Minang people take care of chillies

At Pasar Ibuh in Payakumbuh, a sunday market would sell fresh produce like these. 
What's special about these markets are...

Chilli Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network


At these markets they would have a specialized section for chillies. Here they would carefully sort the chillies. Some of these chillies would be sold whole and some would be sent ..

Chilli Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

here where these ladies would work their love in pestling the fresh chillies to grainy or fine texture, depending on different types of dish. 
These ladies are professional chilli pestler who would just pestle throughout the day!

Chilli Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

Batu lado

The pestle (batu lado) and mortar were made from stone and they are huge in size. No water added in the pestling process. Which is why these chillies are considered pure and best character for Minang dishes, and these women who pestle them are true heroes.

Chilli Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

1 kg of chilli each pestling

It would take about 10 minutes to have 1 kg of chilli to become paste in the hands of these ladies. And you will have a true Minang chilli to mix in your dish.

Chilli Archive by Reno Andam SuriIndonesia Gastronomy Network

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