Thursday, March 05, 2015

Krupuk, Si Jali Jali, Gambang Kromong = Cap Go Meh

                                                emping = fried padi-oats.


What's a food posting doing on a music blog again?  They connect; but here's a vocabulary list before proceeding, just in case:

Indonesian to English:

krupuk udang = prawn crackers (from Indonesia).
emping belinjo = smashed and fried gnetum or padi oats.
goreng krupuk = fry crackers.
garing = crunchy/crispy.
kwali = a wok (a large Asian frying pan).

si jali-jali = a traditional folk song from Betawi (Batavia/Jakarta), a tropical plant.
gambang kromong = a Betawi Orchestra.
chap goh meh = end of Chinese New Year on 15th day. Chinese Valentine?

                                 krupuk udang = Indonesian prawn crackers.

It's called finger food today and taken with wine and beer. But emping and krupuk udang have been on the dinner table as part of Indonesian meal appetisers a long time ago.  They are also eaten with gado-gado (salad).  It's still a delicious diet for many Asians. And they are everywhere during the Chinese New Year festivities.

My own household in the 50s always connected the Indonesian music coming from the Pye radio in the hall with the frying of krupuk udang or emping in the kitchen.  Our domestic help was a very plump but short and tanned Indonesian lady who would do her frying with the large wok or kwali filled with ten gallons of oil, accurately heated to a certain temperature. She had to make sure that the krupuk udang would drip out of the kwali light brown, dry and most importantly garing.
                                                  wok = kwali
I never waited for dinner time and would snatch two or three of these hot and oily krupuk from the shallow flat basket, where she placed them, and run out of the house sinking my teeth into the very tasty and garing prawn crackers as I swallowed them quickly.  My mother would hear her screams and shake her head muttering, "He knows he'll get a bad sore throat..."

The krupuk udang those years was very much larger than they are today and I never believed that they should be broken into pieces and placed in jars only to be eaten during meals. I would just take bites from the large pieces that Piah (our domestic help) had fried and enjoy them whole.

Si Jali Jali:
  Modern Jali Jali Dance (

The Jali-jali coming from the radio was a testimony of our helper's love for the music.  She was allowed to tune in to Indonesian stations any time she had to goreng krupuk.  Piah, jovial and warm, came from Betawi and the crackers she fried and music she listened to were part of the culture brought over from Indonesia.

These songs have become the anthem for the indigenous people of Betawi in general.  This particular music is still being practised by art groups today in the Indonesia capital and has helped to preserve the culture.

Gambang Kromong:

Apparently, Jali jali was born, developed and popularized by the Chinese peranakan in old Betawi using accompaniment from gambang kromong.  It is a traditional orchestra originating from the same city, blending western music and Chinese-style pentatonic base tone. It was popular in the 1930s.

Nie Hoe Kong, a musician and leader in the Chinese Betawi community, saw to the development of this orchestra type. In the late 30s, there was a group called the Gambang Kromong Goh Hong Lao that consisted of only Chinese members. In fact, they played for parties and celebrated Cap Goh Meh in style singing these melodies.

 Singer Tuti Trisedya with Jali Jali is on the right bar of this page --)


                                                  Gambang Kromong 

Images; Google and YouTube.
An original posting.
Information: Wiki.


PETER CHAN said...

You forgot these kawan.

Dari Bangka!

(Peter sent pictures of krupuk udang, nanas tar dan kulat (jamur) ie prawn crackers, pineapple tarts and dried mushrooms.)

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks Pete,
I would be just as successful with a food blog. Love your immediate response.

You must know the music.


Hi Andy,

The picture shows both to be the best type of cracker amongst all. The emping has got a special taste somewhat bitter and the krupuk is off course with the enriching smell with the prawn flavour.

It is coincidence that I have got one plastic big container bottle given by someone, the krupuk [prawn type] but comes with a latest version, the stick type instead of the usually big pieces and the best is to share the portion so that you will not experience a bad sore throat.

Anyway, it is just the correct timing for those whom are celebrating and enjoying a good drink to go with.

Happy Chap Go Mey I heard it is today so Cheers.


ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Hi Rickie,

Thanks for the detailed comment which will be appreciated by all.

I didn't realise there's a new shaped krupuk.

Having played music for so long, I'm sure you're familiar with jali-jali?

IRENE HOE said...

you, too, Andy.

chakapchakap said...

Indonesian Lyrics:
Verse 1:

Ini dia si jali-jali
Lagunya enak lagunya enak merdu sekali
Capek sedikit tidak perduli sayang

Asalkan tuan asalkan tuan senang di hati

English Translation:

This is it, si jali-jali
The song is nice, it's very melodious
It's fine if you're a little tired, don't worry my love
As long as you're happy Sir...

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thanks to Doris Lim, Priscilla George, Flora Toh, Adeline Pang and Richard Toh for appreciating the post.


Same to you Andy


When the fullness is felt and the music lingers, satisfaction sets in... Jali Jali melody is nice.

JD said...

enjoyed reading some of your blog. Very engaging.

JC said...

Talking of food. A boiled egg is hard to beat.

chakapchakap said...

Cultural Diversity of Indonesian Music:

The music of Indonesia demonstrates its cultural diversity, the local musical creativity, as well as subsequent foreign musical influences that shaped contemporary music scenes of Indonesia.

Nearly thousands of Indonesian islands having its own cultural and artistic history and character. This results in hundreds of different forms of music, which often accompanies dance and theatre.

(extract from Wikipedia)

anon said...

Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.

(Antony and Cleopatra, 2.5.1-2)

Josh said...

Grandpa I don't want Love Letters, Pineapple Tarts or Kway Bangkit. I want my krupok!

nys2772 said...

This is a traditional song of Betawi people from Jakarta. The lyrics of the song actually consists of poems that have rhymes at the end of each sentence (similar to limericks). Each of these poems contains advice or consolation with a sense of humor, a very typical character of Betawi people.


For many of us, food and music go hand-in-hand - and now I am feeling hungry.

ANDY: Pop Music Not Pills. © said...

Thank you all for interesting reactions on post. Appreciate the gut feeling.

I have disconnected any advertisement attempt. No offence meant.

Please visit again soon.