My ethnic background is Javanese and in our culture, certain celebration requires us to make yellow rice to celebrate it. It is also our way of showing gratitude because we’re being blessed. That celebration, for example, is when a girl is turning into a young woman or hits puberty. My mother prepared some yellow rice with special beef stew or spicy fried chicken and vegetables, when I reached puberty. She sent out some to give to our neighbors. The yellow rice is a symbol of gold or prosperity. It is shaped into a cone that resembles a mountain, that becomes a cultural symbol in ethnic Javanese. The rice is put in the middle of a large bamboo tray (or a big plate) surrounding with beef stew, spicy chicken, stewed hard boiled egg and also some vegetables. The vegetables can be cooked or raw. The kind of meats that accompany the yellow rice can be diverse, but they usually sweet and spicy.The cone-shaped yellow rice can be as high as 1 foot or 30cm.
Based on this Javanese tradition, my daughter asked me to cook some yellow rice for her birthday as she’s turning into a young woman too. Two celebrations that are truly memorable for me. So I prepared the yellow rice using glutinous rice and used the yellow rice spices from a jar that a friend gave me. I was so happy that my measurement to make the rice was perfect. I left the rice that was mixed with the spices and water for 2 hours for the rice to expand. I cooked the rice with a regular rice cooker, then shaped it into a cone using aluminum foil. For the meat, I prepare sweet beef stew with hard boiled egg. I cooked the beef with coconut water and palm sugar. I also cooked some collard green with Javanese “sambal Bajak” (Bajak spicy sauce) and cut some cucumber to accompany the rice. I assembled the yellow rice in the middle of a plate and put the meat and vegetables around it. Then I added cut up red chili for the garnish. The look at my daughter’s face showed how happy she was with her cone-shaped yellow rice, as we call it TUMPENG.