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Archive for July, 2008


In Trengganu, we like to ‘cicoh’ (dip) when eating; we ‘cicoh’ our food in our drinks, curries, gravies, soups, dipping sauces and whatever that could further enhance the taste of our food. In my last post; ‘Cicoh Part 1‘, among others I wrote about ‘buoh ulu cicoh Milo’ (a Trengganu sweet cake dipped in Milo) and what will happen when ‘cicoh’ (dip) turned to ‘celok’ (over dipped/ dunk).

We normally eat our curries, gravies and soups with rice but we do not ‘cicoh’ our rice in kuoh (curry/gravy/soup) because it will take forever to finish eating if one tries ‘cicoh’ each grain of rice in kuoh. However, we ‘cicoh roti bata‘ (white bread) or ‘roti paung’ (buns) in ‘kuoh’. We have special breads such as ‘roti canai‘, ‘chapati‘, ‘putu mayam‘, ‘roti jala’ dan ‘roti ppayang’ (naan) that are tasty when eaten ‘cicoh’ curry or ‘gula’ (Terengganu curry).

Grilled fish is normally eaten ‘cicoh budu’ (a special dipping sauce – please refer to ‘ikang singgang’) and we ‘cicoh’ our ‘ulang’ (Malaysian salad) in ‘samba belacang’ (dipping sauce from red hot chili, shrimp paste and sugar pounded in a mortar until smooth; then squeeze enough lime juice).

We also have ‘air lade’ – a dipping sauce for ‘khepok leko‘, ‘khepok keping’ (fish cracker) and also for ‘ikang’ and ‘sutong goreng celok ttepung’ (fish and squid dipped in a special batter then deep-fry until golden brown). Mom said that when she was young they used to ‘cicoh pisang goreng celuk ttepung’ (banana dipped in batter then deep-fry just like ‘ikang celuk ttepung‘) in ‘air lada’ and it tasted good. Anyway the ‘air lada’ from Terengganu is much tastier than the ones in KL.

If in Western countries people dip their fruits in melted chocolate; in Trengganu we dipped them in ‘ccolek‘. ‘Ccolek’ is usually freshly made by pounding red hot chilies, palm sugar, shrimp paste and may be a bit of tamarind paste in a mortar until smooth. The tricky part is to get the right balance of the ingredients for a perfect ‘ccolek‘. Traditionally we eat ‘buoh ppelang putik’ (unripe mango), ‘jambu air’ (water apple), jambu buteir banyok’ (guava) and other local sour fruits dipped in ‘ccolek’ but I also like to dip Granny Smith apples in ‘ccolek’ when ‘buoh ppelang’ is not in season. Who knows, may be strawberries ‘cicoh ccolek’ taste better than dipped in chocolate; at least for ‘orang Tranung’ (Trengganufolks).

We also cicoh a variety of food in grated young coconut (cicoh nyor). Boiled tapioca, ‘apang’ (a type of steamed cake), ‘kusu’ and a number of other ‘kueh’ (traditional cakes) are also eaten ‘cicoh nyor‘. Condensed milk (susu manih) is also used for dipping and so is sugar. ‘Roti cana’ (a Malaysian Indian flat bread) which is usually eaten ‘cicoh kari’ (dipped in kari) is also tasty when ‘cicoh susu manih’ or ‘gule’ (sugar) especially for the children who can’t take the spicy curry.

When it is fine to over dipped or dunk (celok) one’s food in drinks, please do not celok (dunk) your fish in ‘budu’ for your fish will be ‘maseng ppekkok’ (very, very salty) nor your ‘ulang’ (salad) in ‘samba blacang’ and ‘buoh’ (fruits) in ‘ccolek’ because it will then be ‘pedah ddesik’ (very, very hot) and you will end up ‘minung air sapa nok pecoh perok‘ (drinking endless glasses of water).

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In Trengganuspeak we have two different words to describe the different manners of dipping. If a person dip just a small portion of (for example) a banana (pisang) in honey (madu); in Trengganuspeak we name the dipping process as ‘cicoh’. So we’ll say ‘pisang cicoh madu‘. But if a person dip the whole banana in honey; the dipping process is no more cicoh but celok. Hence we now say ‘pisang celok madu‘.

Trengganufolks like to ‘cicoh‘ (dip) their crackers, cookies, certain types of bread and cakes in their drinks. The most preferred drinks for dipping are coffee, tea and ‘Milo’. I’m not so sure if fresh fruit juice and fizzy drinks are also used for dippings. Anyway my siblings and I love to cicoh our cookies and crackers in ‘Milo‘. ‘Biskuk jagung’ (cream cracker) also known as ‘biskuk pak ssegi’ (according to mum) is usually eaten dipped in drinks – in our case, we dip the crackers in ‘Milo‘. Other cookies such as ‘Tiger Biskuat‘, ‘Tiger Susu’ and ‘Biskuk Marie’ are also tasty for cicoh ‘Milo’. During the Eid celebrations I often saw people cicoh their ‘biskuk raya’ (cookies baked for Eid) in their drinks back in Kuala Terengganu; but I prefer to eat my Eid cookies just the way they were.

One should try ‘buoh ulu cicoh Milo‘. ‘Buoh ulu’ or bahulu is a Malaysian sweet cake made from eggs, flour and sugar. They can be soft or crisp depending on how long they were baked. ‘Buoh ulu’ is actually tasty on its own but when dipped in ‘Milo’ -mmm… it surely tastes a lot better. The creamy and chocolaty taste of ‘Milo’ really enhanced the lovely taste of ‘buoh ulu‘. The ‘buoh ulu’ will then be very soft and just melt in my mouth. Sometimes I over ‘cicoh’ (over dip) the ‘buoh ulu’ until parts of my ‘buoh ulu’ sink to the bottom of my ‘Milo‘. I would then use a spoon to dig out my delicious ‘buoh ulu‘. Anyway not all type of cakes would be tasty when dip in drinks. I haven’t heard of anyone who dip their cheese cake or ‘nganang’ (a traditional Trengganu sweet cakes) in their drinks… but who knows?

Nenek (my grandmother) and dad loves to ‘cicoh’ their ‘roti kerah Kemamang’ (a special hard, dry and crispy bread from a district in Terengganu named Kemaman) in ‘kawe’ (black coffee). Another of nenek’s favourite is ‘kayu khammak’(a type of local Terengganu fried bread) cicoh tey o’ (plain tea). I do not like ‘kayu khammak cicoh air’ (drinks) for the drink will then become oily and I do not fancy drinking oily drinks. Oh yes; we drink the leftover drink used for dipping.

One should be creative in thinking of what to ‘cicoh’ in their drinks and of the type of drinks to choose as ‘nnyiccoh’ (a drink to cicoh in). Anyway don’t ever ‘cicoh’ your ‘ikang panggang’ (grilled fish) in your ‘kawe ‘(black coffee) or any other drink for it will then taste ‘anye’. Normally we ‘cicoh’ sweet or rather plain tasted food (eg: white bread) in our drinks but I know a few people who love the taste of ‘khepok kkeping’ (fish cracker) and ‘pulok lepa (please refer to Delicious Pulok) cicoh kawe‘; and I don’t mind to give that a try, I guess…

I perfectly understand the difference between ‘cicoh’ and ‘celok’ but when dad said ‘kicoh‘, I was puzzled. Fortunately mum was around and explained the meaning of ‘kicoh‘. So, if you plan to try dipping your ‘bouh ulu’ in your drink; please remember to ‘cicoh selo-selo’ (dip slowly) for if you over ‘cicoh’ it will be no more ‘cicoh’ but ‘celok‘ (dunk) and if that happens your ‘buoh ulu’ will sink to the bottom of your drink. But it is alright because you can still scoop the ‘buoh ulu’ with a spoon and eat it. However, never ever ‘kicoh’ (rinse) your ‘buoh ulu’ in your drink for it will break to tiny pieces and become too messy to be eaten.

Note: The ‘c’s in cicoh and celok are pronounced as the pronunciation of ‘ch’ in English. The act of ‘makang cicoh air’ (dipping food in drinks) should not be done in fancy restaurants or while eating in another people’s house. Infact it should not be done even in our house, if we have guests around. Anyway one can enjoy their food ‘cicoh air’ in food stalls, ordinary restaurants, very close relatives’ and friends’ houses (in Trengganu). Remember to ‘irup sapa abih’ (finish up) your drink after you are done dipping.

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Dad often talks about the influences of foreign languages especially English and Arabic in Trengganuspeak and I love to guess the original words from which these Trengganulize words came from. Dad pointed out that Trengganufolks speak English (Trengganulize, of course) everyday without realizing it. It seems funny that even though we speak very little English in Trengganuspeak than in standard speak.

In Terengganu, if someone ask for directions, an answer could be something like this:‘Gi sterek,kona kiri sapa juppe raunabouk’. In Trengganuspeak English words are used to tell directions: ‘sterek’ (straight), ‘kona’ (turn – originated from the English word corner) and ‘raunabouk’ is Trengganulize from roundabout.

We also use ‘stak’ for start, ‘selow’ for slow, ‘stok’ for stop, o’ or ho’ for halt and ‘spid’ for speed or high speed. The word ‘gohek’ (which came from the phrase go ahead) has several meanings. ‘Gohek basika’ means ride a bicycle and ‘gohek khete‘ means drive a car. However ‘gohek teksi’ does not means drives a taxi (cab) but it actually means riding a trishaw for ‘teksi’‘ (picture below) in Trengganuspeak means trishaw and not taxi.

Gohek’ can also means go ahead but somehow mum said she never heard of ‘gohek moto’ (motorcycle).

Dreba’ means driver and ‘passenjey’ means passenger. For moving forward we say ‘gi sterek’ (go straight) and for moving backwards we say ‘gostang’ (from the word go a stern). We call traffic police, ‘trapek’ and traffic light, ‘trapek lait’. So, the traffic light rule in Trengganuspeak sound something like this – ‘stok bile trapek lait meroh, selow bile trapek lait kuning, jjalang bile trapek lait ija’ (stop at red light, slow down at yellow light and go at green light). You may meet an ‘aksideng’ (Trengganuspeak word for accident) if you do not follow the traffic light.

We also use ‘English words for some stationaries. Ruler is ‘rule’ in Trengganuspeak, pencil is ‘pengse’, colour pencil is ‘pengse kale’ or ‘kale pengse’ and book is ‘bok‘. For eraser we say ‘roba‘ which mum guess came from the word rubber. We also say ‘potikpeng’ for fountain pen.

There are a lot of other Trenggaulized English words such as ‘fereng’ for frame, ‘supemakek’ for supermarket and ‘possopeh’ for post office. We also say ‘tera’ for try and ‘spese’ for special. Next we have ‘kelah’ (class), ‘fes kelah’ (first class), ‘sekeng kelah’ (second class), and ‘tek kelah’ (third class).

Mom said that when she was in Primary school; they say,“Ayoh Mak, ggesek, go!” to start a race. ‘Ayoh Mak’ is Uncle Mat, ‘ggesek’ mean scratched by something and ‘go’ means goal. So, “Uncle Mat, scratched by something, goal”? Well, “Ayoh Mak, ggesek, go“, actually came from “on your mark, get set, go!”. That brings me to ‘wang, tu, zuh’. ‘Wang’ is one, ‘tu’ is two but what on Earth does ‘zuh’ means?

‘Terre orang Teranung spiking’ (Trengganufolks are terrific at speaking English). When we say ‘spiking’ (speaking) it means speak English and ‘terre’ is terrific. And there are a lot more of English words that had been Trengganulized in Trengganuspeak.

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Last weekend a son of my parents’ good friends was attacked by unknown men near a restaurant in Petaling Jaya. He and his friends were walking out of the restaurant and heading towards their car when suddenly they were confronted by a group of men demanding for his laptop. He declined to give in and in the attempt to snatch the laptop, the attacker slashed the victim’s hands using a ‘parang’ (a long, sharp and heavy knife; similar to machete). One of his hands was badly hurt and he almost lost three of his fingers. As the result of the severe cut, the doctors warned that he may not be able to use the fingers as before.

What happened to the once a very safe Kuala Lumpur? Not only we are facing an alarming numbers of criminal cases; the criminals are getting more and more daring. It is terrifying to see crimes happening all around us even in open crowded places and in bright day light (refer to ‘Crimes and More Crimes’).

Allahyarham Prof Muhammad Al-Mahdi (the founder of Khalifah Institute) who spent many, many years studying social problems in Malaysia and in a few other countries used to warn me about all these problems. Having the opportunity to be one of his students, I learn to be more sensitive about social problems.

One may ask why must we cry out loud over a small crime? As Prof Muhammad Al-Mahdi said every single crime no matter how small it is should be taken seriously for if we just ignore it, the criminals will commit ‘bigger’ crimes in the future. So, instead of regarding it as ‘just another incidence’ we should regard it as ‘not another incidence!’

Where had we gone wrong? Our citizens are supposed to be more educated and knowledgeable than they were just 20 years ago but why are we facing all these problem? Look at Japan, the United States of America and Singapore, crime do happen but not as alarming as in Kuala Lumpur. Stern actions has to be taken immediately to curb these problems before they get even worse. I hate to think of the day when everybody has to carry a weapon themselves every time they go out in order to protect themselves.

We need to understand the core of the problems in order to find effective solutions to curb crime. Material achievements seems to be too important to us that we sometimes ignore the importance of spiritual achievements and humanity. We ignore all the important values of religions and humanity for money and power. We are even destroying our Earth by over polluting and over developing the hills and mountains. If only we can make ourselves good, help others be good and make the physical world good, clean and beautiful – we may be able to make Kuala Lumpur a safer and better place to live in (refer to ‘Our Solution To A Better Future‘)

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I love ‘pulok’ or pulut (glutinous rice) and so do my siblings. Among my favourite pulok dishes are ‘pulok gao nyo‘, ‘ttupak sutong‘ and ‘pulok lepa‘.

Pulok gao nyo‘ is glutinous rice balls coated with shredded coconut. I like to eat my ‘pulok gao nyo‘ with ‘ikang panggang‘ (grilled fish). In my hometown Kulala Terengganu, ‘pulok gao nyo‘ is also served/sold with ‘ikang kering goreng‘ (fried salted fish). Anyway I like to eat my ‘pulok gao nyo‘ with ‘ikang panggang‘ especially with ‘ikang tegiri (tenggiri) panggang‘ for I don’t have to deal with fine fish bones. Even though (in Terengganu) ‘pulok gao nyo‘ is usually served for breakfast, mum normally serves it for lunch or dinner for we find it too heavy to be eaten as a breakfast!

Unlike ‘pulok gao nyo‘ which is easy to be prepared, preparing ‘ttupak sutong‘ is rather tedious. First mum has to clean the cuttlefish or squid. Then the glutinous rice has to be cooked with coconut milk. Next, the cooked glutinous rice has to be stuffed into the squids. This process looks really fun and I always wanted to try stuffing the squids… only that mum never let me try because if this is not done properly, the ‘pulok‘ will spill out when the squids are cooked in coconut milk. ‘Ttupak sutong‘ is very, very delicious and mum has to cook a lot of ‘ttupak sutong‘ because it is everybody’s favourite. Nenek (my grandmother) serves ‘ttupak sutong‘ for tea but we prefer to have them for either lunch or dinner (better still to have it for both).

Pulok lepa‘ is glutinous rice stuffed with a fish based filling called ‘iti‘ in Trengganuspeak (or inti in standard speak). It will then be wrapped in banana leaf and grilled. According to nenek the process of wrapping is very important to ensure that the ‘pulok lepa‘ will be nicely intact when unwrapped. If not, it will ‘rela‘ and I don’t think anybody would fancy eating a ‘pulok lepa hok rela‘. Since mum do not make ‘pulok lepa‘, we have to count on nenek to bring them from Kuala Terengganu. I like the ones with generous amounts of fillings or in Trengganuspeak we say ‘hok iti banyok‘. Mum said that she likes to eat them with black coffee or ‘kopi ‘o’ in Trengganuspeak.

There are lots of other tasty dishes using ‘pulok‘ in Terengganu cuisine such as ‘nasik kunyit‘, ‘nasik dagang‘,’ ttupak daung palah‘ and ‘lemang‘. Glutinous rice is also used in dessert such as ‘tok aji srebang‘, ‘asang gupa‘, ‘bronok‘ and ‘pulok duriang‘. Some people believe that eating too much ‘pulok‘ will make us lazy and sleepy but that do not stop me from enjoying my ‘pulok‘ dishes!

Note: Spelling ‘pulok‘ is very tricky.The ‘o’ in ‘pulok‘ should sounds like ‘o’ in ‘okay‘. If the ‘o’ in ‘pulok‘ sounds as the ‘o’ in ‘on’, ‘pulok‘ will means something else and got nothing to do with food at all. Confusing isn’t it? So if somebody says, ‘Pulok doh‘ with the ‘o’ in pulok sounds as the ‘o’ in ‘on’, he is not refering to food at all.

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Mom came across an interesting article titled “Posh, Becks ‘bad example for kids'” and said that I should read it. (a similar one from the Guardian UK)

The article started by ‘LONDON: David and Victoria Beckham are the leading icons in a damaging celebrity culture that encourages children to believe they can become rich and successful without working hard at school, teachers warn. Pupils who dream of being pop stars and footballers are neglecting their studies and emulating the worst excesses of their idol’s language, behaviour and raunchy clothing, they claimed.’

It also stated that ‘Members who responded to the survey warn that a growing celebrity culture is contributing to underage drinking and anti-social behaviour, because some teen idols are foul-mouthed and yobbish. They also say provocative behaviour by scantily clad celebrities is increasingly robbing young girls of their innocence.’

The findings were released as members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers prepare to gather for their annual conference. The findings did not suprise me at all since both of my parents and Allahyarham Prof Muhammad Al-Mahdi had be warning me and my siblings about all these problems (and more) all the time. Prof Muhammad‘s favourite example was Christina Aguilera but I can’t remember other names since I’m not familiar with pop/film stars. When I asked Prof who she is, he said that it is better if I do not know who she is. And after I saw her on TV not very long ago, I understood what he meant.

Reading the article, first I have to ask mum who are Posh, Becks, David and Victoria Beckham. Weird? Not for me because there are more important people worth to be admired like William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, A Samad Said (Pak Samad), Usman Awang and of course Awang Goneng (Uncle Awang Goneng Siput?). Mum ‘introduced me to Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and Usman Awang. Even Pak Samad too adviced me to read Usman Awang’s works (refer to Launching of Gemuruh Alam At RA Gallery). Mum stressed that even though I do not fancy literature, I have to know the works of at least a few famous writers (not only Enid Blyton who is my favourite) and I ended up enjoying their works.

My parents are not ‘old fashioned’, out of date or against modern civilisation. We started to use the computer since we were one year old but there are rules of what can/cannot be done on computer. The same goes to the internet. We sing and watch TV but we have to be smart in choosing the programs. We enjoy singing nursery ryhmes and songs with good messages such as nasheeds in both English and Malay. We do not watch Akademi Fantasia, American Idols, Gang Stars and those kind of reality shows (refer to A Trip To Taiping), Mr Bean, Senario, High School Musical and some others. But there are movies that we can watch and sometimes dad would even use the projector to make the movies more enjoyable. Dad once took us to a cinema (MBO Cineplex) to watch Shrek The Third and we really enjoyed ourselves especially eating the popcorns!

Dad introduced us to the beauty of poem readings and I love the way Pak Samad and Prof Rahman Shaari reading sajak (a type of Malay poem) Book reading is also beautiful; I even tried it once at Yang Mulia Raja Ahmad’s RA Gallery (refer to Launching of Gemuruh Alam at RA Gallery). I only wish that I’ll be good enough to read sajak one day.

Alhamdulillah my siblings and I do not adore or fancy celebrities and having them as our role models is the last thing that we want; even for the fact that we enjoy Yusof Islam’s songs. Of course I’ve heard of Siti Nurhaliza and Mawi but I do not know any of their songs or recognise their voice if I heard one. I pray to Allah to protect us from all these influences and guide us to the right path, Insya Allah.

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I love ‘ikang singgang’ or ikan singgang in standard speak; and I guess so do most of Terengganu folks that I know. The singgang soup or ‘kuah singgang’ is so tasty that mum has to cook extra rice whenever she cooks the dish.

In our family ‘ikang singgang’ should be accompanied by ‘ikang panggang’ (grilled fish), a good quality ‘budu’ (a special sauce from Terengganu), ‘ppoyok’ or tempoyak (fermented durian), ‘lada jarung’ (bird’s eye chili) and ‘ulang’ or ulam (Malaysian salad) especially ‘pucuk jambu golok’ or pucuk gajus in standard speak (cashew shoots).

‘Ikang singgang’ is a simple dish – mum would boil some asam, galangal, turmeric and garlic in a pot of water. Next, she’ll add some fish and soon we’ll be sniffing the mouth watering aroma of tasty boiling ‘ikang sinnggang’ that sends us running to the kitchen asking how much longer we have to wait for our lunch. ‘Ikang singgang’ can be eaten hot or cold and some even prefer overnight ‘ikang singgang’. One can just add the ‘ikang singgang’ to their rice but both of my grandfathers prefer to first mix some ‘ppoyok’ and crush some green chilies in the ‘kuah’ (soup) before eating. Some, like nenek (my grandmother) prefers fresh durian instead of ‘ppoyok’.

According to mum, the right choice of fish and the freshness of the fish plays an important role in producing a good ‘kuah singgang’. The most popular fish for this dish is

ikang aye’ or ikan tongkol. There are 3 types of ‘ikang aye’ but the tastiest is the ‘ikang aye itang’. Infact ‘ikang aye itang’ is the prime choice in most of Terengganu fish dishes.

Next is how to prepare ‘budu’. First one has to buy a good quality ‘budu’. We can buy ‘budu’ easily but a good ‘budu’ is hard to get even in Terengganu. Squeeze a bit of lime juice and add a bit of ‘kuah singgang’, mix in some ‘ppoyok’, crush in some ‘lada jarung’ and garnish the ‘budu’ with some shallots and lemon grass. And do not forget the ‘pucuk jambu golok’ or cashew shoots.

A friend of dad (whose wife is not from Terengganu) used to complain that only Terengganu women can cook authentic ‘ikang singgang’ and he always misses his ‘kuah ikang singgang’ in KL. A not so tasty ‘kuah ikang singgang’ tastes ‘cero’. My conclusion is it is not that easy to cook a good ‘kuah ikang singgang’ after all!

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