Friday, 18 March 2011

A recipe book from the past

40-year old recipe book
I was at my sister-in-law's place earlier today and came across an old recipe book which she bought in the early 70's. The book is titled `Medan Selera' and was written by the late Haji Ahmad Bin Yaakub.

When I say `old', I mean real old... the text is in `ejaan lama'. For those of you young readers out there, if you don't understand what is meant by ejaan lama, go ask your mother. Even the measurements for the ingredients uses terms that are no longer in use. Try going to the market and ask to buy a kati of fish... and you'll probably get a laugh from the fishmonger.

Medan Selera was one of the very early compilation of recipes in book form. Haji Ahmad originally wrote his compilation in Jawi script in 1958. This romanised edition was first published in 1971, after the author's demise. It became a popular reference book amongst the ladies at that time. It contains recipes for most of the traditional dishes that Johor is famous for... nasi beriani (spelt as buryani in the book), laksa Johor and botok-botok. Surprisingly, the author had also included recipes for some western and Japanese dishes too. There is actually a recipe for mutton chops... which just goes to show that our tastebuds were already quite varied back then. It is also claimed that Haji Ahmad was the one who first used the Italian spaghetti in laksa Johor.

So how heavy is a kati in today's terms?
I only had a short time to browse through the book. No way my sis-in-law is letting me go home with her precious possession. I had an amusing time reading some of the archaic terms, measurements and ingredients. A tablespoon was known as chamcha besar. The smallest unit of weight was the tahil. Rice was measured in chupak. Then there is this ingredient in laksa Johor called sajira... I've never heard of it. My sis-in-law says it is a kind of spice.

Tembosa, a.k.a epok-epok
I did manage to find printed evidence about an issue that was recently discussed by some old school friends. The Malay kuih that the rest of Malaysia calls as karipap, is known as tembosa to us Johoreans. The filling for tembosa is the 156th recipe in the book.

A teacher from my old school who is a descendant of Haji Ahmad Bin Yaakub, is presently making efforts to re-publish this book in modern form. I look forward to owning a copy when it comes out in print. Then maybe I can try cook the original version of the famous Beriani Gam.

22 comments:

HLiza said...

Uh ancientnya! Saya masih ingat lg masa perubahan unit timbang kepada kg..saya hafal 1 jati ialah 600g sebab mak suka sgt guna kati dan juruhebah radio byk kali ulang2 1 kati 600g! 'Tembosa ' saya pernah dengar disebut org lama dulu..sekarang tak lgi. Rasa nak geledah balik koleksi resepi 'paper cutting' mak sayalah..dulu saya sempat selak belakang resepi tu cerita pasal bintang filem dulu2..

Anonymous said...

Saya cari juga makna 'sajira' dalam PRPM DBP, yang keluar hanya, "satira". :-)

Memang buku resepi klasik nasional!

drbubbles

Anonymous said...

Oh, sudah dapat. Ianya black cumin.

DR Bubbles.

Lili said...

Ahhh...at last a subject I'm familiar and loved so much...hehe!

My mother and her sisters still keep old recipe books that no one in our family bothers to browse anymore. Too bad, eh? Must go and dig someday!

Don't be surprise, Oldstock, the fishmongers here still use the kati-kati thingy! A kati equals to 300gm actually...hehe!

As for sajira it is sold in most Indian shops selling spices . I use it my cooking for beef dishes - mamak style! Kiranya adik beradik jintan putih/manis (cumin/fennel). I think sajira is caraway seeds in English.

Oh yes, don't forget to send me a copy too once the book has been published! ;)

Lili said...

Oh, silap! I kati = 600gm! auww!

Sir Pök Déng said...

Still remember my late Grandma's DIY recipe book. She jotted down everything about new recipes she learnt in her life time.

Found a few lines, something like this;

"dua chamcha besar gula"
"tiga hulas bawang putih"

Chamcha and hulas. Wow the spelling.

Well, had one of the commentators not explained what "sajira" really means, I might have no idea what it is.

Oldstock said...

Hliza, saya sendiri dah lupa 1 kati = 600gm. Kalau di Johor sekarang ni sebut tembosa masih ramai yang faham. Bebudak muda macam anak-anak saya je yg dah tak panggil tembosa.

Oldstock said...

Dr Bubbles dan Lili,

Saya google sajira dan dapat satu image yg tunjuk sajira ni rupanya se akan jintan. Bila google black cumin dan caraway seeds, dapat image yang serupa. Kira betul lah tu...

Waja Lancer 2011 said...

sdap nyaaa!

Oldstock said...

Pok Deng,

My mum has her own hand-written recipe book in Jawi. When my eldest son was waiting for his exam results and had some free time, I asked him to re-write the recipes into the PC. He gave up after typing a few... not because he could not read jawi, but the language was `strange'...

Anonymous said...

assalam,
dah lama saya cari someone yang ada buku medan selera nie...saya pun ada satu copy tapi dah naik kuning kertasnya....tapi yang paling penting mr fadhil kenal waris tn haji ahmad....saya ingat nak collaborate with descendent of tn haji ahmad utk re-publish buku recipe ni and buat research on old johor authentic food....maybe mr fadhil could hooked me up with waris tn haji ahmad...

thank you
norahman shah
culinary coordinator kfch international college johor bahru
norahman@kfch.edu.my

Oldstock said...

En Norahman,

I have forwarded your email to the person concerned and hopefully she'll get in touch with you soon. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

QueenKBee said...

I was just googling randomly and found this. I'm so happy and proud. Haji Ahmad bin Yaakub was my great grandfather, and it's my mum, her sisters & cousins who are in the midst of modernizing the recipe book. I hope you don't mind me taging this post on FB with them, I'm sure they'll be happy to know that there are people waiting for the book to be reprinted :)

Hjh Hayley said...

Assalamualaikum all...seronok and gelihati I baca all your comments about the 'strange' language and archaic measurements in my late grandfather's recipe book "Medan Selera". I grew up with it and find it not strange or difficult to understand at all...but I do understand the predicament today's generation has in trying to use the book. Basically it's a good book...and to keep up with the times we are in the process of upgrading the book linguistically and to change the measurements to metric. Imagine trying to guess what "1 chi" is...I had to verify the measurements with the goldsmith @ PohKong...Please be patient and when the new version O MS comes out give us your 100% support...HIDUP JOHORE!!!

Oldstock said...

Salam QueenKBee and Hjh Hayley,

Didn't expect this old post to be getting more comments but I'm glad it's creating more interest in the book. As I mentioned to Puan Faizah in an FB message, you guys have your work cut out in coming up with the modern version, hehe... the author's style of writing sometimes had five or six lines of text in one sentence! But I'm sure you can do it, best wishes from me. Plus don't forget to invite me for the book launching ya :-)

Hjh Hayley said...

InsyaAllah...we're trying our best to get the modern version ready for the new generation cooks asap...

k said...

Salam,

Ibu saya masih ada copy buku Medan Selera ni... dari saya kecil lagi, buku ni memang rujukan utama lah kat dapur tu.

Bila dah besar, kami adik beradik buat photocopy untuk simpan sendiri.

Buat masa ini saya dalam proses mengubahsuai resipi untuk meng'convert' ukuran lama kepada ukuran antarabangsa (metric), tapi tak terdaya nak buat satu persatu dan sorang sorang :|

satu hari, insyallah!

Oldstock said...

Salam k,

Tak sangka posting lama masih boleh menarik minat pembaca. Rajinnya awak nak convert ukuran lama itu. Saya rasa saya tunggu je edisi moden yang bakal diterbitkan kelak. Terima kasih atas kunjungan serta memberi komen.

DREAMERZ said...

Mak saya ada buku ni dlm jawi :)

Oldstock said...

Sdri Dreamerz,

Kalau dlm tulisan Jawi dah kira antik tu... tapi masih berharga dan patut disimpan. So have you placed an order for the latest version?

Thanks for dropping by.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone,
As an FYI, the latest development for the NMS is the English translation. Wish us luck as we slog on with this latest project of the family.
Hopefully Oldstock will keep this topic alive.
All the best...

Oldstock said...

Hi Anon@20.34,

I am guessing that you are one of the editorial team. We look forward to seeing the English version in print. Best wishes...