Serabi Kali Beluk, The Pancake of Honesty

Some foods are famous for their exceptional taste. Other snacks are popular because of their unique shape. There is also a type of food that became famous because of the legend behind it. The legend behind this unusual-sized serabi (traditional rice pancake) reminds us of honesty.

 

Kali Beluk certainly sounds unusual for a name of a snack. However, it was the name of a village: Kali Beluk Village–where the famous rice pancake of Kali Beluk was made for the first time. This small village in Batang Regency is located in the eastern part of Pekalongan.

 

“The characteristic of this Serabi Kali Beluk, is its big size. Other serabi are small and made of wheat or flour, “said Ibu Surini, one of the vendors of Kali Beluk serabi, in thick Javanese accent.

Serabi Kali Bekuk itself is believed to have been produced since the time of Mataram kingdom. The recipe on how to cook is like a precious family treasured, passed on for generations. A legend about the origin of Serabi Kali Beluk said more or less the same thing.

 

The legend of Serabi Kali Beluk began in a neighboring village called Kali Salak. The beautiful Dewi Rantan Sari who lives in the village of Kali Salak, made the Sultan of Mataram want to marry her. The Sultan (Sultan Agung Hanyokrokusumo) then ordered Bhahurekso to propose Dewi Rantan Sari for the Sultan.

 

Bhahurekso did what he told to do and headed to Kali Salak Village. Upon meeting the beautiful Dewi Rantan Sari, Bhahurekso changed his mind and decided to marry her. To save his face from the Sultan, he sought another beautiful woman that can replace Dewi Rantan Sari. He found Endang Wiranti, whose beauty was a match to Dewi Rantan Sari. Endang was the daughter of a serabi seller who lives in the village of Kali Beluk.

 

Initially, Endang agreed to replace Dewi Rantan Sari and marry the Sultan of Mataram. But when she met the Sultan, Endang’s conscience could not lie. She felt guilty about her lies. After she passed out due to the unbearable burden of having sinned, Endang confessed.

 

Endang’s honesty was appreciated by the Sultan. Endang was sent back home to her village in Kali Beluk along with a sum of money. With this money, Endang was able to continue her family’s serabi business.

 

Some locals believe that the people of Kali Beluk are the relatives of Endang Wiranti.

 

Is this legend true?

We have no idea. However, one thing we know for sure, the shape and taste of Serabi Kali Beluk never changed. The dough remains the same,  the traditional baking mold is still used, as the pancake burn on firewood. The ingredients are also still the same.

 

If anything changes, it is only the way serabi sellers no longer pound rice into flour themselves but using a simple machine to help them go through this process more leisurely.

 

Making serabi is quite simple. Mix rice flour with shredded coconut, then pour the coconut milk that has been infused with fragrant pandanus leaves. Add water and a little salt. Pretty much similar to how we make usual pancakes!

 

For chocolate pancakes, a palm sugar mixture is added. White sugar is the go-to choice for white-colored pancakes. “Usually the ones with palm sugar sell better,” said Pak Yatin, one of the sellers Serabi Kali Beluk.

The fragrance of coconut milk and palm sugar immediately wafted from simple kitchens in the village of Kali Beluk. The baked serabi are then removed from the mold to cool. One by one, they are neatly arranged on a bamboo mat placed beside the fireplace.

 

Serabi is a typical food from the Regency of Batang and Pekalongan, and can be found in Warungasem Market, in Batang. The price is around Rp.10.000, – each. Its size is as big as the palm of your hands, making it the right snack to be savored with friends. You can cut the serabi into small pieces and have it as an accompanying bite for your afternoon tea or coffee. It is best when it’s still warm!

While tasting the sensation of this ‘ancient’ pancake, can you imagine how beautiful Endang Wiranti is?