Pulut Kuning Becomes the Heritage Symbol of the Malay Community

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Pulut kuning or better known as yellow turmeric rice, is very special in the culture of the Malay community, because this menu is considered a special dish. This dish is glutinous rice cooked with turmeric to give it a unique yellowish color. Usually, it is served with goulash, chicken rendang, or meat. The presence of yellow glutinous rice in the culinary heritage of the Malay community is very valuable because it has been inherited from ancestors with an emphasis on proper cooking techniques.

Pulut Kuning As a Special Occasion Dish

The practice of cooking glutinous rice in the community is a traditional practice that is often associated with culture, rituals and customs (Wijaya, 2011). M. Noor (2012) stated that the special dish of the Malays is Pulut Kuning because it is one of the important dishes for feasts and is often served in special ceremonies of the Malays such as berkhatan, khatam Quran, cukur jambul for babies, weddings and engagements. Here are some examples of ceremonies that are often held by the Malay community along with this heritage dish:

1. Ceremony of Khatam Al Quran

Ceremony of Khatam Al Quran
Source: Instagram

The menu served during the Al-Quran khatam ceremony is actually Pulut Kuning which symbolizes sincerity and appreciation for the knowledge that has been learned. Symbolically, this glutinous rice is handed over by the Master to every student who has finished reciting the Quran as a sign of completion of learning and a blessing to practice knowledge as a practice that is beneficial to the community.

2. Wedding Ceremony

Wedding Ceremony
Source:  Women’s Weekly

The color yellow is often used as a symbol of nobility. During a certain event, an individual is considered a “king for a day” with the attributes of a king who wears yellow clothes and receives treatment worthy of a king or noble. This illustrates that marriage is an important process that unites two individuals and continues the family lineage. In civilized wedding customs, it can be seen that the bride and groom feed each other as a sign of lifelong love.

3. Baby Birth Ceremony

Baby Birth Ceremony
Source: YouTube

In some regions of the state in Malaysia, the tradition of celebrating the birth of a baby is still practiced. One of these traditions involves the presence of Pulut Kuning as part of the feast. The dish is usually served with red sugar cooked with grated coconut or red sugar cooked with coconut milk, as a symbol in the ceremony, and given to relatives. However, with the advancement of technology and the digital world, this kind of tradition is increasingly marginalized.

Pulut Kuning Symbolism

The meaning and role of food in Malay cultural events has its own uniqueness. There are dishes that symbolize the strength of relationships, fertility, joy, intelligence, and even modernity. In this context, yellow glutinous rice is one of the most symbolic and special dishes for the Malay community.

Referring to Wijaya (2011), Pulut Kuning is prepared to show gratitude for the achievements achieved and also show gratitude to the guests for their presence and willingness to attend the ceremony. It is also a symbol of appreciation to the community for the cooperation received by the host. This dish not only symbolizes a certain ceremony, but also symbolizes the closeness of the social relationship between each member of the community. If you want to try cooking at home, you can click on this recipe.

Reference source:
eISBN: 978-983-3862-59-7,
Chapter In Book: Preservation of Traditional Malay Food Heritage, Series 1.

Article from Purple Malaysia, curated by Mika Natalia