Address : Kotagede, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
You will not feel like really visiting Kaliurang without having jadah tempe (glutinous rice and boiled soybean cake). Yes, jadah tempe is a traditional snack that has long become a trademark of Kaliurang local food, which is situated at the slope of Merapi Volcano, Sleman Regency, Special Province of Yogyakarta (DIY). The combination of contrasting taste and texture is what makes jadah tempe special, even more so if you have it while enjoying the cool and naturally refreshing atmosphere that is indeed ever present in Kaliurang. It is as if the food has become a different legend of the phenomenal volcano. Prominent figures from culturalist Bagong Kusudiarjo to painting maestro Affandi often came to Kaliurang only to fulfill their culinary passion, that is by having jadah tempe.
Among many producers and sellers in Kaliurang and Yogyakarta, there is one that is a legend, Mbah Carik. It is obvious that Mbah Carik must be the first name to cross our mind when mentioning jadah tempe. Mbah is a term of address for elder people, while Carik is a term of reference for the village or district secretary. The real name of the late Mbah Carik is Sastro Dinomo who worked as carik for Pakem district. There is an interesting story about the naming of the jadah tempe.
Since 1950s, Sastro Dinomo had already created various kinds of food using glutinous rice as the basic ingredient, one of the food is jadah. At that time, jadah was not popular, even relatively not recognized. That changed drastically since a royal entourage from Kraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat paid a visit in Kaliurang, led by Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwana IX (1912-1988). In the visit, Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwana IX was attracted by the food stalls around Telogo Putri area, Kaliurang. Despite his status as king, Sultan insisted on stopping by a jadah tempe stall that turned out to belong to Carik Sastro Dinomo. Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwana IX gave a taste the jadah and tempe made by Sastro Dinomo.
Unbelievable! The King was addicted to the sensation of the unique taste. As His Excellency got back to the palace, he commanded one of his custodians to go meet the jadah tempe seller. Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX also wanted to name the food. Looking for a catchy phrase, the King decided to name the food jadah tempe, a combination of jadah and tempe.
Before that, the term jadah tempe was unknown. People only knew that the food was made of glutinous rice and boiled soybean cake. Knowing that Sastro Dinomo was a carik, the Sultan’s custodian suggested a name for the stall, Warung Jadah Tempe Mbah Carik. That was how the stall got its name which is used until today. Now, although more people run similar business, the status of Mbah Carik as the “king” of jadah tempe is unshakeable.
The business continues to develop. Of seven of Mbah Carik’s children, only one who wants to take up the business, Sudimah Wirosartino. Because the name Mbah Carik is inseparable from the food itself, Sudimah decided to use the same name. Later on, feeling her time was over, Sudimah Wirosartino appointed one of her children, Idha Kurniasih, to run the jadah tempe stall.
The popularity of Mbah Carik’s jadah tempe is increasing beyond expectation. This makes similar stalls flourished in many places, especially around Kaliurang and nearby areas. The grandchildren of Sastro Dinomo, who formerly refused to take part in running the family business, are at last willing to turn their hands to it by opening branches in some location in Kaliurang, such as at Telogo Putri, Regolam, and Candi. It consequently holds the name of jadah tempe even higher. The food, slowly but surely, is adjusting itself as a Merapi culinary trademark from Merapi.
The specialty of jadah tempe lies on its traditional image and unique taste. The name tells us that this food is made of two ingredients, i.e. jadah and tempe. The uniqueness is found in the contrast of the ingredients, either of their tastes or textures. Jadah, glutinous rice cake which in Jakarta is called uli, usually tastes a bit insipid although sometimes rather piquant as having a coconut taste in it. As for the shape, jadah is rubbery and soft.
Tempe, especially tempe bacem, tastes sweet and has a rough texture formed by the soybeans. When these food are combined for a bite, they will give the tongue an extraordinary sensation.
It is relatively easy and simple to make jadah tempe. Before becoming jadah, the glutinous rice is steeped for three hours, washed, and mixed with scraped coconut. Then, the glutinous rice is pounded until it granulates and forms a compound with the scraped coconut. Next, the compound is steamed for two hours and cut oblong or oval, adjusting the shape of its accompaniment, tempe bacem.
Tempe bacem’s sweetness is earned from brown sugar syrup (Javanese sugar) and soybean sauce. Tempe is first of all boiled in brown sugar syrup, soybean sauce, and other additional spices and taken out after the water dries out. That explains why tempe bacem does not taste like usual tempe which is piquant and crunchy. Tempe bacem is sweet and moist compared to the other kinds of tempe.
For Mbah Carik’s jadah tempe, the making of tempe bacem takes quite some time, from afternoon until morning. This is done to have the spices and ingredients absorbed well by the tempe or in other words, to make the taste stronger. Cooked in traditional method using firewood, Kaliurang’s tempe bacem and Mbah Carik’s in particular indeed has a distinguished taste.
Fully cooked jadah and tempe are served in oblong or oval, thin shape. The two contrasting kinds of food are heaped before eaten. For warm fresh-from-the-oven jadah tempe, you should go to Kaliurang or some other places which especially produce and sell this snack.
Jadah tempe will be a lot tastier while it is hot. The soft, rubbery, and piquant jadah combines perfectly with rough, scratchy, and sweet Jogja-esque tempe. For those who like spicy food, jadah tempe also tastes good with chilies. Above all, it is suggested that you prepare hot drink while having jadah tempe and enjoying the cool Kaliurang air.
You can find many jadah tempe sellers in Kaliurang tourism area, which is one of the main tourism destinations in Sleman, up north of Yogyakarta. Mbah Carik’s prime stall is situated on Astamulya Street, Kaliurang, Sleman Regency, Special Province of Yogyakarta. There are other four branches of Mbah Carik’s stall, however, along the road to Kaliurang. Other than that, you can sometimes find jadah tempe in other places in Yogyakarta such as in traditional markets and sidewalk stalls.
Jadah tempe is a snack but is really filling. A pack of jadah tempe, consisting of 10 jadah and 10 tempe bacem, is quite cheap. You only need Rp 10.000, to get it (per 2010). You can also buy jadah tempe separately in smaller quantities. In the stalls that sell jadah tempe, there are usually sold tahu bacem, another tasty snack, at a relatively similar price.
Text: Iswara N. Raditya
Photo(s): Collection of Jogjatrip.com
Translation: Reza Daffi
(Primary data and various sources)