Savory and Soft Serabi Notosuman

Enjoying local culinary delights is always an interesting thing for travelers. This type of culinary is a special attraction because it reflects culinary treasures of region in question. This time I would taste one more typical Solo culinary after I’ve tasted five of them.

That morning, I decided to leave Alun-Alun Kidul (South Square of Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace) early because the sun had shone on that open area. After taking shelter for a while under Waringin Kurung Sakembaran*1, I immediately ordered an online taxi service to Jayengan area.

Shortly after executing the order, a black Toyota Avanza came to pick me up. Taxi driver was very easy to recognize me after I had given my characteristics in detail starting from the color of my clothes, bag and shoes which I was wearing. I opened the front left door and buried myself in the seat.

Serabi*2 Notosuman, Sir!”, I confirmed the destination.

“Ok, Sir”.

The online taxi drove to east, tracing morning streets of Solo City. It was a national holiday, Islamic New Year, and streets were deserted. I arrived in ten minutes and entered parking area. The first glance was a large green nameboard with words “Serabi Notosuman”, this was the famous Solo City snack. I should try it or at least bought it as a souvenir.

Parking area.
Production area.

In a corner, six production employees were busy working on making serabi. Those employees deftly handled more than a hundred mini serabi pans, carried large basin of dough from the kitchen, greased each pan with oil using a round brush, poured the dough with a distinctive hand shake to form a thin layer over the puddle of dough, then covering the pan for three minutes to produce a cooked serabi. Hot serabi were started to be lifted one by one using a small taper and then were cooled on top of tampah*3, then were wrapped in banana leaves to be ready to sell to buyers. Indeed, the serabi which sold in this outlet were fresh serabi because they were directly taken from the stove.

I entered the inner room, it turned out that this outlet didn’t only provide serabi. But it also provided some other traditional culinaries such as intip, jenang, lanting, jipang*4 and others.

Selling room.

Serabi Notosuman itself was almost a century old, had a distinctive and savory taste of coconut milk. That morning, I chose to order two kinds of serabi, plain serabi and chocolate ones at a price of IDR. 2,000 per piece to bring as a souvenir.

Located on Mohammad Yamin Street, this outlet operated from 06:00 to 17:00. This culinary based on rice flour and coconut milk had two outlets with different owners, namely Serabi Notosuman Ny. Handayani, which was characterized by its orange color packaging and Serabi Notosuman Ny. Lidia with green color packaging.

So, take your time to stop by at Serabi Notosuman when traveling to Solo.

Note:

Waringin Kurung Sakembaran*1: The twin banyan tree is full of magic in the middle of royal’ south square

Serabi*2, one of the most common snacks in the market when visiting Java

tampah*3 is tray which is made from woven bamboo

intip, jenang, lanting, jipang*4 are typical Javanese snacks

Soaking “Kebo Bule” in “Alun-Alun Kidul”

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My success in enjoying Tahok made my morning worthwhile because I could enjoy again one of many typical Solo City’s culinary. My third day in Batik City continued. The limit was this afternoon when I have to leave Solo City to return to capital city.

Now I was standing back in front of Gede Hardjonagoro Traditional Market’s gate, waiting for an online taxi to came and picked me up. Not long after, a white Toyota Agya stopped its speed right in front of market gate. I walked towards it and the driver seemed to understand that I was the passenger who he would pick up.

Alun-Alun Kidul, Sir“, I confirmed the destination.

It’s quiet in the morning. You should have come there at night, Sir, it will definitely be festive”, online taxi driver provided information.

What festivy is on the night, Sir?

Usually, families will play with their children to try various game rides, and young people will hangout around to enjoying culinary delights, Sir“, he lightly said.

Oh, I see….but I just went there for a survey, Sir, just a moment. The main event is still two months away”.

I see, Sir. It’s okay

Ten minutes later, I arrived at Alun-Alun Kidul (South Square), in Gajahan area. Dropped off at east side of square. My attention was immediately fixed on two large banyan trees in the middle of square. The square still looked very quiet that morning.

OOOngng… .aa… .kkk ……… OOOngng… .aa… .kkk”.

Ah, that’s a buffalo sound“, I thought.

I quickly turned around to voice origin, a little further behind me.

Kebo Bule“, I was shocked.

Kyai Slamet” Buffaloes was othet their nickname.

Five buffalos were seen in an iron cage. That was “Kebo Bule” (“Albino Buffalo”) which was usually paraded at “Malam Satu Suro” (“1st Muharram”) celebration parade around Solo City. It was a routine event which held by Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace to welcoming the arrival of Islamic New Year 1 Muharram.

Illustration of “Malam Satu Suro” celebration (Source: SINDOnews).

I knew that “Kebo Bule” parade had been done overnight when I fell asleep at Amaris Hotel Sriwedari. Even though I had invited Rahadian to watch the celebration. But our bodies were just too tired after doing some survey for fourteen hours yesterday. So we chose to sleep and enjoy hotel facilities.

It seemed that that buffaloes was rested in Alun-Alun Kidul after last night parade, “Kandang Mahesa” is their cage’s name. Very lucky, I could see that buffaloes up close even I could touch their head.

For a long time I watched “Kebo Bule” behavior with several people who deliberately stopped from their vehicle to take a brief look at that sacred buffalo.

In the end, I decided to walk towards the middle of square to feel a magical nuance when I passed that two twin banyan trees. I thought that magical power of that banyan tree was just a myth, but I also didn’t blame it when many people believed in magical power of that trees. People’s beliefs were different each other and couldn’t be enforced.

Waringin Kurung Sakembaran” (the name of that twin banyan tree) which have magical powers in the eyes of Solo City’s people.

Not felt, the sun began to rise and its heat began to pierce into the square. I have to get away from here.

Ginger Scent in a Bowl of Tahok

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I have finished exploring Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace and its square, Klewer Market and Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace. I started down southern point of Jenderal Sudirman Street heading north. This was administrative area of ​​Solo City, I felt impressed when I passed Surakarta City Hall which was very majestic with its Joglo*1 roof.

Surakarta City Hall.

Sidewalk in front of city hall seemed to be made wider without a fence, this was because the office where mayor worked also acted as a people’s house who was ready to accept their complaints. The city hall was still quiet that morning, it hadn’t yet touched nine o’clock.

Arriving at a T-junction, classic appearance of Pasar Gede Clock Tower really captivated my eyes. The tower, which was neither high nor low, still showed the spurs of Dutch colonialism. This was Sudiroprajan area with its main icon, i.e Gede Hardjonagoro Traditional Market.

Gede Hardjonagoro Traditional Market.

I started to go to Gede Hardjonagoro Traditional Market. My goal was only one….TAHOK.

I didn’t even know what this traditional Solo culinary looked like, even the location and shape of its stall, I never imagined it. My step was getting closer to market building which looked silent when I looked at it from front gate.

But I was still on other side of street when I noticed a long queue which started at a food cart. I still didn’t know what the culinary which sell in food cart. After approaching and reading small banner which was hanging on its roof, I just found out, it turned out that a culinary which I had been looking for was right in front of my eyes. This was Mr Citro’s Tahok.

Me: “Sir, what are the ingredients?

Mr. Citro: “This is made from beancurd and ginger water, Sir“.

Me: “Rahadian, do you want to try or not ?. I want to try ”, I offered to Rahadian, who had been hesitating.

Rahadian: “No, sir. I don’t really like ginger. Sir Donny can eat it, I’ll just wait ”.

Me: “What?. You come for far way to Solo and how come you don’t try its culinary. It’s strange ”, Rahadian just smiled and took a bench in the corner of sidewalk.

I started to queue, some customers prefered to take away their orders. It show that they were loyal customers of this culinary. Not long in queueing, it was my turn to get a bowl of Tahok. The seller seemed to start to lightly scooping the beancurd and put it in the bowl many times until it was full, then poured ginger water until it drowned all beancurd.

Tahok food cart.
Tahok.

This was the fifth Solo City’s typical culinary which I enjoyed after Dawet Telasih Ice, Jenang Suro, Soto Kwali and Wedang Ronde which I ate a day ago. Combination of subtle texture and warmth of ginger made it perfect to ete in that morning which still blowed remains of last night’s cold wind .

I finished this culinary experience by handing over IDR 7,000 (USD 0.5) and started to leaving the food cart. Now I was heading to Gede Hardjonagoro Traditional Market inside for second time since yesterday. I was still curious about Bu Dermi’s Dawet Telasih Ice which I didn’t find a day ago because it wasn’t open yet. I did have time to drink Ibu Hj. Sipon’s Dawet Telasih Ice as the replacement.

But my curiosity still paid off with no luck. Stall which I was looking for had not opened yet, even the market was still deserted and not many traders were present. My desire was delayed again.

Gede Hardjonagoro Traditional Market inside.

Later I would taste this Bu Dermi Dawet Telasih Ice two months since my arrival that day.

Note:

Joglo*1 is a type of traditional vernacular house of the Javanese people

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Klewer Market and the Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace

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Klewer Market in the morning.

I started walking to north towards Alun-Alun Lor (North Square) of Hadiningrat Surakarta Palace. Its distance was less than half a kilometer from palace courtyard. I arrived in five minutes. As far as my eyes could see, Alun-Alun Lor was quite well-maintained, with an area of ​​almost seven hectares. Covered by imperfect green grass which was covering the entire square, asphalt paths crossed from north to south and from west to east and in each side of square were surrounded by large trees (banyan trees in between). Meanwhile, to limiting the road which surrounding the square, a chest-high iron fence were built which aligned with inner boundary of sidewalk.

I seem lazy to go to the middle of square, just kept walking around it and intended to go to eastern part of square to kill my curiosity about the biggest textile shopping center in Solo, i.e Klewer Market. Like Tanah Abang Market in Jakarta, Klewer Market was the city’s economic pulse with a very capable cash flow cycle. I arrived right in front of market gate which was still quiet. Some traders have started to come and bringing coli of textiles upstairs. Meanwhile, several stalls seemed to be opened to prepare for trade that morning. I tried to step to the first floor and went around looking at each side. Looking at its surrounding conditions, I could imagine that this market would be very busy if all stalls were opened.

I won’t wait until Klewer Market actually was opened, I immediately went down and heading to north of the market. This time I would visit Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace which was still part of Hadiningrat Surakarta Palace. The mosque, with a three-tiered roofs, appeared to be devoted to witnessing the marriage of a couple who seemed to be important people, because I saw there was a greeting flower board from President Joko Widodo and his family. That event then discouraged me to entering the mosque.

Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace.
Great Mosque of Surakarta Palace

The mosque was decorated with classic lampposts in its courtyard, even more beautiful with its elegant single minaret which standing in north of courtyard. This 232-years-old mosque was still quite dashing and elegant standing at east side of Alun-Alun Lor which was side by side with Klewer Market.

Finally, I had been in the last part of Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace complex. I started to leave palace area by passing eastern side of Slamet Riyadi Street which was marked by a Brigadier General Slamet Riyadi statue who looked dashing while pointing a gun into sky. Slamet Riyadi himself was a hero of Solo City who fall in Ambon while carrying out state duties in quelling the rebellion of Republic of South Maluku.

Now my intention was turning towards my first destination when I did the survey yesterday. I wasn’t looking for Dawet Telasih Ice, but a traditional culinary which was quite famous in Solo.

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Visiting Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace

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Soundly resting in Amaris Hotel Sriwedari made me woke up just as Shubuh call to prayer rang out. Taking time to enjoy the dawn from behind a glass window in the room, I decided to splash under the shower with warm water afterwards. I deliberately lingered under the shower, perfecting my muscle relaxation after since two day before I had to chase with time doing lots of survey agendas exploring Solo City.

After more than half an hour of bathing, I immediately cleaned up, tidied up my bag and prepared myself for my third day of survey. On exactly seven in the morning, I was at hotel’s restaurant for breakfast. While Rahadian, my Vice Chair of Marketing Conference, had been in the restaurant since half an hour ago. He leaned closer to my dining table when I ate fried rice combined with mendoan*1 and hot coffee. We chatted and discussed about the last survey that day.

After thirty minutes in enjoying a variety of restaurant menu, Rahadian and I started ordering an online taxi for heading east to Baluwarti area. That morning the official palace belonging to Surakarta Sunanate became the first survey destination on my third day in Solo. Shortly waiting in the lobby, a black Toyota Agya came to pick us up. I immediately got into front seat and Rahadian at back, then that online taxi started went for two kilometers in ten minutes to reach the destination.

The palace building was 277 years old.

Fifteen minutes before eight o’clock, I arrived at Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace. That day, I planned to shorten our survey time because Rahadian would come home early by catching Lodaya train departure to Bandung at 13:00 hours. Therefore, I went to palace when its operating hours weren’t yet opened.

Rahadian and I enjoyed palace frontyard which also functioned as a one-way traffic lane. But there was one part of palace building which really stole our attention, i.e a thirty meter high tower which was visible from palace frontyard. That was Sanggabuwana Tower which was founded 38 years after palace building was built. It could be guessed that this tower functioned as a watchtower because this palace was founded during Dutch colonialism era.

But it was said that the tower was also used to meet Nyi Roro Kidul*2 “The Queen of South Sea” by Sri Susuhan Pakubuwono III.

Like an city planning of the ancient kingdom era, Surakarta Hadiningrat Palace was flanked by square, i.e Alun-Alun Lor (North Square) and Alun-Alun Kidul (South Square). Alur-Alur Lor was a busier square, this was where the “Sekatenan” (Night Market) was held to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday every year.

So to explore area around the palace, I started to continue my journey to Alun-Alun Lor by walking. Alun-Alun Lor was no more than half a kilometer from palace and could be reached by walking in ten minutes.

What were destinations around Alun-Alun Lor?

Note:

Mendoan*1  is a type of fried food that comes from the residency of Banyumas, Central Java, Indonesia

Nyi Roro Kidul*2 is an Indonesian goddess of the sea. She is the Queen of the Southern Sea (Indian Ocean) in Sundanese and Javanese mythology

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