The Smell of "Kolak Gedhang", the Soul of Ramadhan

Kolak gedhang or kolak pisang, dessert made of "kepok" bananas, coconut milk and palm sugar. | Photo: Darlina Iwan.

"KOLAK gedhang" has long been playing an important role in the Ramadhan menu in Indonesian tradition, especially among Javanese Muslims.

Kolak gedhang literally meal with thick, sugary sauce made of coconut milk and bananas.

Gedhang itself is a Javanese word meaning banana. In bahasa (Indonesian language), it is called "pisang".

During Ramadhan, kolak gedang is served as "takjil", dessert consumed to breaking the fast.

Here, palm sugar will be proper to use than cane-based sweeteners.

There are different types of bananas, but a variety named gedhang or pisang "kepok", is the best-suited for a boiling pan of kolak gedhang.

The kepok banana is marked with its relatively firmer flesh and sweeter taste.

While most bananas are oval, the kepok tends to look a bit boxy, although still in crescent-shaped just as other varieties have.

It is, however, OK to make kolak gedhang out of other types of bananas, but, traditionally, the taste will fairly different.

When exactly is the first kolak gedhang made remains unknown.

Today, it is hard to find kolak gedhang outside of Ramadhan. Although, Javanese once also made it as part of pre-wedding meals.

The meals were then to be distributed to the neighbours, through a ritual gathering and religious prayers called "kenduri".

But the tradition of serving kolak gedhang in kenduri meals has now disappeared.[sahrudin]