How to make Lontong without banana leaves

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Lontong – hard-boiled rice – is something you can find in many Indonesian traditional dishes. Interestingly, even if you travel around Indonesia, you will find that every region has its own version of dishes that use lontong.

And lontong has become one of the food items for special occasions such as Eid or Christmas. 

Although in essence, there are two different types of hard-boiled rice in Indonesia. One is lontong which is cooked using banana leaves as the wrappers. And the other one is ketupat which uses palm leaves that are woven into diamond shapes. 

For ketupat, people normally cook and make it for Eid celebrations. Because common people may not be able to weave the palm leaves into the ketupat shapes. So they rely on the sellers who sell the ketupat wrappers. 

Therefore, outside the Eid season, normally people make lontong if they want to cook something that requires hard-boiled rice. 

How to make lontong without banana leaves

When I moved to the UK, I found it difficult to cook dishes that require lontong or ketupat as their companion. Because it’s not easy to get banana leaves. I have to travel to Chinatown which takes more than 45 minutes from where I live. 


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Lontong - hard-boiled rice cakes

Really, I can’t justify spending that much time just to get banana leaves to make lontong! Not only that, the price is expensive too. 

So I have to find a way to make lontong.

Then my mom taught me how to make it when she came to visit me. 

To make lontong without banana leaves, you need food-grade plastic bags. Try to get good quality ones that are quite thick and durable. Because you’ll boil them for at least 1 hour using a pressure cooker, or about 2 hours using normal pot.

How to make lontong: hard-boiled rice cakes

How to make Lontong without banana leaves

Yield: 2
Prep Time: 2 hours
Active Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 10 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Lontong is a type of hard-boiled rice cakes and popular sundries in many Indonesian food dishes. Originally, lontong is made using banana leaves as its wrappers. As it's not convenient to buy banana leaves when you're living in the west, i.e. the UK, USA, etc., this tutorial gives you an idea how to make lontong using food-grade plastic bag as the wrapper. This way, you can still enjoy many traditional dishes such as lontong sayur, gado-gado, ketoprak, etc.

Materials

  • Rice.
  • Food-grade plastic bags.
  • A big pot with its lid or a pressure cooker.
  • 3-4 litre of water depending on the size of your pot/ pressure cooker.
  • Salt.
  • A candle and a lighter.

Tools

  • A candle and a lighter.
  • A pressure cooker or a deep big pot
  • A colander

Instructions

  1. Wash, drain, and soak 1 cup of rice overnight. Note: you can use Basmati rice, long grain rice, short-grain rice, or even Jasmine rice. The difference is in the texture. If you like a chewy-kinda texture, you may want to choose Jasmine rice or short-grain rice. I personally use Basmati rice most of the time. Because that’s the rice we always have at home 😉.
  2. Drain the rice.
  3. Get your food-grade plastic bags. Basically, you can use any size of plastic bags. But you want to make sure that the bags will fit in the pot that you’re going to use. For reference, I use a 20 x 29 cm (approx. 8 x 12 inch) bag that I fold into the half. Fill the bag with the rice until it fills up about ⅓ of the lontong size that you want to make.
  4. Insert the filled bag into another bag to give another layer. You can skip this step if you think your plastic bag is thick enough to handle the boiling process.
  5. Fold the plastic bags about ½ inch away from the point where you decide your lontong size is gonna be.
  6. Using the candlelight, carefully burn the folded part of the plastic bag at the bottom of the candlelight. It’s where the light is blue. Don’t burn at the top part of the fire, because it will burn your plastic bag unevenly.
  7. Take care and make sure the light burns all layers of the bags that all stick together.
  8. And then carefully press the burned bit using two fingers. If you’re worried about the heat, you can use a thick tea towel to press it.
  9. Next, lay your filled bag on a chopping board. Using a skewer, a toothpick, or a pin, prick the bag along the width and the length. Try to prick about a half-inch between each prick. Turn the bag around, and do the same to the other side.
  10. Get your big pot ready if you use a pot. I use a pressure cooker most of the time because it cuts down the cooking time to half. It only takes me around 1 hour to cook in the pressure cooker.
  11. Put the water in the pot/ pressure cooker, and carefully place your bags of rice in it.
  12. Initially, the bags will stay afloat as the rice is still raw. But once the rice is cooked, the bag will plump up and fat 😄. So, you have to guess how much water you need to put to cover the bags when the rice bag shape expands. Because you want to make sure the rice bags will be fully covered with water pretty much all the way through.
  13. If you use a pressure cooker, you can put the lid on and set everything according to its instruction. If you use a normal pot, you can just put its lid on.
  14. Turn the heat to high-medium until the water boils. Then you can turn it down to medium once the water reaches boiling point.
  15. It takes one hour to boil with a pressure cooker, and about two hours if you use a normal pot. When the cooking is done, your rice will look mashed and solidified but very soft.
  16. Drain the water, and leave the rice bags on a colander. Leave it to fully cool down.

Notes

When your lontong is completely cool, it will get hardened and firm that it will be easy for you to cut. It can take at least 3-4 hours for the lontong to firm up.

Have you tried this?

Share how you like the recipe in the comments below and show a picture of your creation

When your lontong is completely cool, it will get hardened and firm that it will be easy for you to cut. It can take at least 3-4 hours for the lontong to firm up.

You can use the lontong for your favourite dishes. As some ideas, perhaps you want to have it with gado-gado, lontong sayur, or ketoprak. 

Enjoy!

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Thank you, and all the best.

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