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Traditional rice cooking in Kedah


Traditional rice cooking in Kedah Malaysia for groups is done with what some people call a "multi tier steamer" or, as the men at the Malay wedding I attended told me: an RCC, a rice rocket cooker!

Now I am a Dutchman, a foreigner in Malaysia and I got the invitation for this Malay wedding. The first day of the wedding would take place in a little town in Kedah. The story of the wedding day of Hazman Bin Sabtu and Zurul Affza Binti Mohd Yusoff is elsewhere told so I won't do that again.

When I arrived a few guest were already around but I decided to have a look around before sitting down. In the back of the house the women were busy in the kitchen with cutting the vegetables. Outside the men were keeping an eye on the chicken curry and the brown sauce achar (a kind of lime pickle) which both smelled fantastic.

The women were preparing the vegetables in the kitchen
The women were preparing the vegetables in the kitchen

My main attention went to a large metal construction outside the house. I asked what that was. One of the men told me it was a rocket! All of the men now laughed. My curiosity was awoken! "A rocket?" I asked. One of the men explained to me this was a traditional way of steaming the rice. Inside the rocket there were trays of rice.

The rocket rice cooker
The rocket rice cooker

They had a metal construction where they had put the trays with rice and water. A large rocket shaped cauldron would cover the metal construction.

The rocket is placed on a burner. Pieces of cloth are places all around to prevent the steam to escape. Depending how big the rocket construction is, it should take 2 to 3 hours before the rice is ready.

The men told me in about 20 minutes or so the rocket would "go into space" and everybody was laughing.

I shot a few pictures and went to have a look at other places. At one moment one of the men came to me and told me to come as the rocket was about to launch!

Obviously I was very curious. What would I see?

 
The R.R.C., rocket rice cooker

One of the men pulled with a long rope the rocket up and the trays with rice became slowly visible.

mass rice cooking in kedah
The "launching of the rocket"

The rocket had been "launched". 15 trays all full of glutinous rice were visible. The steaming rice was now tray by tray put in rice bags.

Put the rice from the trays in the bags
Put the rice from the trays in the bags

The rice was now ready for consumption. This way of steaming rice is apparently unique in Kedah, one of the northern states of Malaysia. In fact the way of rice cooking is a very inventive way to cook rice for a large amount of people, like on a wedding day. And trust me, the rice tasted excellent.

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