Monday, October 08, 2007

Dodol – A Pictorial Timeline

Spurred on my last year’s success at making the dodol, I’ve decide to make it a yearly affair for the family in preparation of the upcoming Hari Raya festivities. I had to make sure I planned it weeks in advance to make sure that I had my complement of helpers from my family members as it would be crazy to try to attempt to make it alone. After much cajoling and less than veiled threats on their physical wellbeing for some, I managed to get all to come back to my parents house last weekend to make our yearly dodol. There was some low grumbling but as the eldest brother I get to throw my weight around at least once a year on this.

This year, we decided to switch things around and make the dodol from black glutinous rice flour (pulut hitam) instead of the normal glutinous rice flour that people normally use. I was told that the taste of the dodol made from the pulut hitam is quite different from the normal dodol so I wanted to see if I would prefer it more than the normal type. Since you can’t really get black glutinous rice flour from your neighborhood shop, I had to ask my mum to get it from one of the Indian spice shops in Chow Kit market. The shop would grind up the pulut hitam into flour that they would sell in bags of 1 kg. I wished that I got a chance to go to the shop as it’s not very often you get to see people grind their own flour, even if they do use a machine to do it.

Once we got the flour, next major items to get would be the sugars and coconut. Since I will be using 2 kgs of flour, I had to get an equal amount in weight of palm sugar (gula melaka) and equal amount in weight of brown sugar (gula merah). For the coconuts, the ratio is coconut milk for 10 mid sized coconuts for every kg of flour used. Since we will be using 2 kgs, I had to get 20 coconut’s worth of finely shredded coconuts. Since the coconut milk to be used in making the dodol has to be freshly squeezed, I had to take it back to be squeezed by hand instead of getting the shop to squeeze which they could for a nominal fee if requested.

Once all ingredients were assembled, it was time to put everything together. I took pictures of the process this year to share on the blog for people who have never seen how it’s made. Had to be a wee bit creative in explaining why I’m taking pictures while making it since I didn’t tell them that I have a blog out here. While there will be pictures this time instead of just the recipe, they are no way as good or as artistic as on the other blogs (*waves hi*) so please don’t compare what you see here with them. I count myself lucky if I could keep the pics in focus even when using an auto-focusing camera.

First step is

Chopping up the gula melaka and mixing it with gula merah with just enough water to mix them together. Drop in a knotted bunch of pandan leaves for aroma and boil on a low flame until all the sugar has melted. Make sure that the mixture is stirred to avoid burning the sugar.

After all has melted and left to cool.

Result of the 1st squeezing of 20 coconut for thick coconut milk. It took me nearly 1 ½ hours to go through it for the first squeezing.

OK .. I cheated and used the blender to make it easier to extract the coconut milk from the shredded coconut. It was still murder on my hand since I’m not used to the type of work required. Good thing that I only have to do it twice a year.

The first thick coconut milk batch goes into the kawah with a knotted pandan leave bunch and a handful of salt to be heated under a medium flame.

After about 2 hours, the coconut milk would start releasing coconut oil which signaled the start of the next stage.

The cooled sugar syrup is then strained through a fine sieve to remove any particles before added to the bubbling coconut milk mix. The resulting mixture is stirred using wooden cooking paddles to reincorporate the coconut milk and old with the sugar syrup. The whole thing it left on the fire until it starts to boil.

In the meantime, the coconut is squeezed for the second time to get a thinner coconut milk to be mixed in with the flour. I prefer to do the mixing by hand as you get to feel if there’s any flour bits that were not mixed together properly. The flour mixed is then strained through a fine sieve to ensure that there were no lumps. I also added a bit of rice flour into the mix so the end result would be easier to cut into pieces and not be as chewy when people bit into it.

Once the mixture in the kawah has started to bubble again, the flour mix is added to the kawah. At this point the whole mixture starts to thicken and the heat begins to cook the flour. This is when the back breaking effort of making dodol starts. You can’t stop stirring the dodol from this point onwards or you’ll end up with a dodol that has burnt bits in it which would be hard to bite into.

1 hour into the process – the dodol was still easy to stir and did not look slick to the eyes.

2 hours into the process – it starts getting harder to stir the dodol. You really had to start putting your backs into the process.

3 hours into the process – the stirred mixture darkens considerably. It got easier to scrape off the side of the kawah to be folded into main mix.

4 hours into the process – the total volume of the dodol seems to have reduced to half of what it was but weighs about 5 times from where it started.

5 hours into the process – the dodol looks shinier as coconut oil is released from the heated mixture. The more oil is released in the cooking process, the longer the dodol will last in storage.

6 hours into the process – a reasonable pool of pure coconut oil coming out from the dodol mixture that signaled that the dodol was ready to be taken off the fire. It took 6 of us working in 20 – 30 minute turns stirring the dodol mixture non-stop for 6 hours to finally get the end result. Fortunately we didn’t use a traditional wooden fire to cook it on or else would need to add at least another 4 hours for the cooking time.

The amount of pure coconut oil collected after the process which would be used for cooking.

The dodol was then taken out of the kawah and put into a metal tray to cool down before it can be cut into bite sizes. It would continue to darken as it cooled down and more oil will be released during the process.

Completed dodol. Ready to be cut up into bite sizes and enjoyed as a traditional Hari Raya sweet treat.

Making the dodol was hard work but the end result is quite worth the effort. Not many people can say that they still make dodol the old fashion way. We also got to spend time together as a family to make it since it has to be a group affair instead of an individual effort. They may grumble at the beginning but every bite would be a reminder of how we came together as a family to make it. To say that I am proud of the end result it a bit of an understatement since to me the dodol itself was not just a sweet treat but also represented a link to our family past as well as a reaffirmation of our family bonds.

When I tell people that my dodol was made with love, I know I can really honestly tell them it was.


famil said...

Keep some for me... look yummy.

[danial][ma] said...

wow! nixx...this is my first time ever in my life to have a great chance to see the process of making 'dodol'...and i definitely sure that your dodol tastes great...carefully cooked with a lot of loves...yummy...have a great eid celebration with your family...cheers!

Nickxandar said...

Insyallah kalau masih lagi lepas raya and we do get to meet up, I'll bring you some :)

Thanks for the Eid wishes.

I'm obviously proud of my dodol and am happy to share the pictures of how we make it. As I mentioned in the blog, not many people has had the experience of making it and by sharing the pics I hope that they could make the learning journey with me.

wahdi said...

Look so yummy!!!
ada letak daun pandan rupanya buat dodol nih...

Nickxandar said...


Daun pandan tu mesti ... kalau tak de, kurang aromanya.

Kena pakai daun pandan tau, essence of vanilla tak boleh ... bwahaha!

[danial][ma] said...

hej! nixx
thanks again for sharing the 'dodol journey'...great! whatever you do with love, it will turn out great! hope one day i can sample your great sweet dodol... :)

happy and blessed eid el mubaraq