“THE ORIGIN OF “LAMPRAIS” by Des Kelly
It seems to be perfectly “hilariais” that this writer could even contemplate the fact of being a “culinary expert”, but, the fact that I CAN cook “rice”, in my rice-boiler without producing “lumps” in it, leads me to add that I am halfway there, teaching my faithful readers of eLanka, the method of cooking “LUMP-RICE”, which is how we original Lankans pronounce the name of this fabulous “DUTCH-DISH”.
With so much confusion, or lack of information out there these days, almost ANYTHING wrapped up in a banana-leaf is being passed off as a “Lamprais”. So, instead of repeatedly explaining this in Dutch, English, Sinhalese, or Tamil, I have decided to do a permanent “post” about it, in, not only the best website for Lankans everywhere (eLanka),
but also in the interest of correcting any misconceptions that now exist.
“Lamprais” are quintessentially a ” Dutch-Burgher” delicacy, but these words by Arun-Dias-Bandaranaike, quite possibly related to the late Solomon Ridgeway Dias Bandaranaike, a fine “orator”,but,whose “orations” finally caused all “Dutch Burgher” buggers to take their lamprais to Australia, England, Canada, America, & every-bloody-where else in the World. Now, Arun, although definitely not a Dutch-Burgher, explained the origin of Lamprais quite brilliantly. He may not be quite the orator that S.W.R.D.B. was, but he certainly knows how to take “pen to paper”.
In his words, “In as much as it may not be ideal to have the so-called Mona Lisa dressed-up to be modernly-chic, (from the French for chique), and have her wear headphones,
(so that we can figure she may have heard something to
“smile about”!!), the tangential bits to the lamprais may, in fact, allow many to imagine that a “rice-packet” wrapped in a jolly banana-leaf “qualifies” to have the term “Lamprais” attached therewith. The Dutch-Burgher families of yore, had it down to a fine art. Some people knew the subtleties and delights to be found in the ‘authentic’ version inspired by the Dutch.
Firstly, Lamprais are NOT a Dutch creation. It was INSPIRED by the Dutch, who brought some of the recipes with them from Indonesia, where the V.O.C.(Volatile Organic Compounds) had their headquarters, e.g. Blachan(Machan),
a typical Indonesian speciality made of dried shrimp,(the wet ones would have been useless).
The name “Lamprais”(or “Lomprijst”, in Dutch, as they were not too good at “spelling”), was probably derived from the Indonesian dish “Lempur”, which consists of cooked rice and meat wrapped and steamed in banana leaves.
“Frikkadels”, or deep-fried meatballs are probably the ONLY typically Dutch-influenced dish.
The Dutch-Burgher Community, to which I belong, only because my dear mother was truly “Dutch”, her maiden name being Kriekenbeek, who, in turn, boasted being “Founder-Members” of the Internationally famous “Dutch East-India” Company, painstakingly cut up every ingredient into tiny cubes, so that the lamprais could be easily eaten with a spoon & fork. No “eating” with fingers or toes allowed, and no “bones” of ANY kind, ever included.
The traditional “meat-curry” consisted of beef, mutton, chicken, pork, & ox-liver cooked in a “Special Recipe”.
“In my opinion” says Special Chef.Des.,”it is possible to make allowances for people who cannot eat any of these “meats”& use only chicken, without altering the taste, too much. How we can do this, is anybody’s guess”!!
The other condiments in a typical lamprias are Brinjal Pahi, Seeni Sambol, and, of course the Frikkadels & Blachan. Ash Plantains cubed, fried & cooked in a ‘white-curry’, could be added later, but are not compulsory.
The rice, itself should be the finest “smallest-grain” rice.
Bullets like Milchard should never be used because it could choke you, and “a choke, is never a joke”. The rice must then be cooked in a good, rich, home-made stock. This “Stock” must be made at home, nowhere else, and the necessary spice added, of course. “Lankan Spice is very nice”.
Everything is then packed (in small portions) in a SINGLE PIECE of banana leaf, simply because if there are two pieces, all you would be eating, would be banana-leaf,(the portions are so small). The single piece of banana leaf must then be folded NEATLY, then baked until the aroma & flavour of the lamprais permeates right through the parcel.
That, my friends, is a Lamprais.
To finish this wonderful Dutch Burgher Recipe, please remember, to NEVER insult a Lamprais-eater by adding a hard-boiled egg, or FISH, of any kind. Change any of the details provided & all you will have will be a “Rice-Packet”.
Star of eLanka