Monday, August 1, 2011

"Khao Jam" (Nasi Kerabu)

"Khao Jam" ('kao jam'), or locally known as nasi kerabu, is a famous Kelantanese/Thai rice dish which is extremely healthy. Apparently, it helps to keep the body "warm" and is known to be good for people under confinement after delivery or those whose body are prone to chills and rheumatism.
Recently, my MIL and hubby's aunt was down from their kampung (village) in Kelantan and stayed in our house for a week. They brought along lots and lots of fresh herbs and vegetables and frozen bags of dark green coloured water.  The greens are totally fresh and free from pesticides.
The "khao jam" rice is actually made from the juice and blended herbs of more than a dozen herbs in Kelantan. I was told that you can't get it anywhere else except in Kelantan. Some of hubby's aunts make the most authentic "khao jam". They get their supply of fresh herbs and vegetables from a friend who collects the herbs which are mostly grown in his own backyard and some collected in the wild. The herbs have to be pre-ordered to allow time for the farm owner to pick and choose the leaves for you.

When I asked hubby's aunt what are the types of herbs used, she gave me names which are totally alien to me. She says that she doesn't even know how to describe it to me as it requires special knowledge to pluck the kind of leaves and herbs together. There used to be a time when people would use approximately 100 types of herbs to extract the juice.
"Khao" actually means rice in Thai while "jam" is the blended mixtures of all the herbs and vegetables. It's a Kelantanese favourite with thai influence and is totally different from the coloured rice that you normally see in the normal nasi kerabu which is sometimes made from a type of blue flower or added with colouring.  The taste is totally different and cannot be compared with the normal nasi kerabu that you normally get in malay restaurants. Our friends who recently tried this for the first time, went for a second helping. It kind of boost your appetite and makes you want to eat more.
How do I describe it? It's extremely fragrant and appetising. Hubby's aunt used the blended herbs and juices extracted from it and cook it with the rice like how you cook normal rice. She would also add in some daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaves), pandanus leaves and some gula melaka (palm sugar) on top of it for extra fragrance.
For the fresh vegetables, it is extremely important to use pesticide free vegetables. The chopping of the vegetable into fine pieces can be quite tedious. So, be prepared for a few hours of preparation.
For our preparation of our "khao jam" last night, we used the following fresh and raw vegetables which are mostly chopped finely, except for the beans :
  •  normal petai (smelly green bean in pods)
  • baby petai (this has tons of health benefits!)
  • jering (a type of bean which is slightly bigger than petai but with a much lesser stinky smell)
  • daun kesum (a kind of fragrant leaves)
  • serai (lemongrass)
  • bunga kantan (torch ginger flower)
  • small raw mango
  • taugeh (beansprouts)
  • small bittergourd (this has tons of health benefits too!)
  • cucumber
  • onions
  • young jantung pisang (banana flower)
You may also add in long beans, daun pegaga (pennywort) and other type of ulams (raw vegetables and herbs).
Over and above that, we added these :
  • fish flakes (we use ikan kembung)
  • kerisik (grated coconut that is briefly pan fried for the crispiness
  • budu sauce (fermented fish sauce)
Budu sauce is widely used in east coast dishes. We added chopped chilli padi (bird's eye chillis), shallots and lime juice for the extra kick. However, be warned never to watch how the budu sauce is made in those small "factory huts" as you'll find it pretty disgusting and a big turn-off. haha... It is extremely salty, so watch the salt intake.

Here are some pictures to whet your appetite.

colourful types of fresh,  raw vegetables - such a pretty sight!

"khao jam" rice - cooked with more than a dozen types of blended herbs together with the juice extracted from it. The picture above here is a big rice cooker pot cooked for 15 people.

check out the budu sauce (top right), baby petai (top left), fish soup cooked in asam gelugor, green chillis and onions (middle left) and stir-fry chicken with petai (bottom left).


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