Rujak is a term for salad dish in Bahasa Indonesia. The most popular rujak is probably fruit salad or rujak buah. Rujak itself have several variants, with the fruits sliced, shredded, or roughly mashed. In this recipe, I made the easiest one, sliced fruit rujak.
So what’s so special about this Indonesian fruit salad? The dressing. It is one spicy dressing. Yep.. Spicy fruit salad. (At this point some of you probably think Indonesian are crazy, they even eat fruit spicy!)
Fruits that we have here mostly are sour. So I think, people started to make a dressing to balance this sourness: spicy and sweet. That’s why bumbu rujak or Indonesian fruit salad dressing made from chili and palm sugar, ingredients that are easy to found here.
Rujak is a social dish. If I want to hang out with my friends, I can ask them, “Hey, let’s make some rujak at my home.” Ngerujak is the term for “making & eating rujak”. There’s no fun making and eating rujak alone. It is not practical. If you want to make rujak, you buy one pineapple, one mango, one bengkoang, half a kilo of java apples, and those are a lot of fruits! So that’s why you ask your friend to make it and eat it together. Of course, other option is just to buy a portion in rujak vendor.
Last month, my pregnancy came to its 7th month. My husband’s grandmother is an old woman who still have a firm believe in her Javanese tradition. There’s this ceremony held for ladies in their 7th month of pregnancy. Me and my husband wanted to make her happy, so we held it.. But not the full blown ceremony with the mother-to-be bathed in the middle of the night with water infused with seven kind of flowers kind of thing. We toned it down to just simple occasion where neighbors and families come together and wishing me a smooth delivery and the baby’s healthy.
But, in this ceremony, rujak cannot be left out. “It meant something,” said grandma. Rujak is actually an integral part of Javanese culture! Instead thinly sliced, in this kind of occasion, they made shredded rujak. They said, if the rujak tasted sweet the baby will be girl, and if it turned out spicy the baby will be boy.
I tasted the rujak. It was super spicy and also salty. What’s that mean? I dunno. (And what if the mother will have twin girl and boy? What will the rujak taste?)
So, what fruits can be use for rujak? We here use any kind of fruits that is sour or bland. Texture-wise, we want something that can be sliced and then pick by hand. Super ripe mango will be too slippery. Almost ripe mango, almost ripe papaya, pineapple, java apple, and bengkoang (Pachyrhizus erosus. No English term for this one). But that was just a rough guide. I also like honeydew melon and watermelon in rujak. Maybe some strawberry and nectarine will be interesting too as rujak fruits. Go ahead and try.
If you can find tropical fruits and ready to taste one interesting sweet and spicy Indonesian fruit salad, here is the dressing recipe.
- 5 pcs bird eye chili
- 3 tbsp fried peanut, roughly chopped (can be skipped)
- 100 gr palm sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 1/2 tbsp tamarind paste
- a pinch of salt
- In pestle and mortar or food processor, crush the bird eye chili first.
- Add and blend with palm sugar, water, tamarind paste and salt. The mixture will be thick and gooey.
- Mix in chopped peanut.
- Serve with sliced fruits of your choice.