Burasak: The Rice Dumpling of The Bugis Diaspora in Malaysia
In the culinary realm of Malaysia, there exists a delectable treat known as Burasak (also burasa or buras), a rice dumpling that encapsulates the rich flavours of coconut milk, packed inside a banana leaf pouch. It is similar to lontong, but with richer flavour acquired from coconut milk. It is a delicacy of the Bugis and Makassar people of Indonesia. It has also found its way into the Bugis diaspora in the Malaysian states of Johor, Selangor, Pulau Pinang, Sabah, and Sarawak where there are large established communities.
Burasak is made by steaming the rice until half-cooked, then cooking further in coconut milk mixed with daun salam (Indonesian bay leaf) and salt until all of the coconut milk is absorbed into the rice. Then the half-cooked coconut milk rice is wrapped inside young banana leaves, and then wrapped again with older banana leaves in cylindrical or pillow shapes, secured with strings made from banana leaf fibers (or any kind of string). Usually, two to three cylinders of burasak are tied together as one. The rice packages are then steamed further until completely cooked. While the preparation may seem simple, the entire process requires several hours to achieve the desired texture, stability, and longevity. In fact, properly cooked burasak can last for approximately five days without the need for refrigeration.
Burasak holds significance in various settings. It is often prepared for those embarking on long journeys away from home, providing them with a convenient and nourishing sustenance. Additionally, this delightful creation takes center stage during special festivals such as Hari Raya Aidilfitri and Aidiladha, adding a touch of tradition and flavour to the celebratory feasts.
The allure of Burasak lies in its ability to transform humble ingredients into a culinary masterpiece. The combination of tender rice, infused with the creamy richness of coconut milk, creates a symphony of flavors that dance on the palate. Pairing Burasak with a succulent dish of galangal-braised chicken, known as ayam masak lengkuas in Malay or likku/lekku in Buginese, enhances the overall dining experience, creating a harmonious balance of tastes.
Whether indulging in Burasak as a staple to replace steamed rice or ketupat, or savoring it alongside an array of delectable dishes, this rice dumpling holds a special place in the hearts and taste buds of those who appreciate its flavours.