Suka Makmue () – Rujak, or a salad with a spicy brown sugar sauce, is a common dessert in all parts of Indonesia, with several regions having their individual peculiarities and consuming it year-round, especially during the summer months.
However, Muslim communities in the Nagan Raya Regency, Aceh Province, the westernmost province of Indonesia, follow a slightly different custom in treating their rujak that they refer to as seunicah oen.
These communities eat seunicah oen, or rujak daun in bahasa that is translated as rujak, from leafy vegetables only during the holy month of Ramadhan for breaking their day-long fast.
“Seunicah oen is only sold during the holy month of Ramadhan. You will not find it anywhere else,” Afrizal (35), a seunicah oen vendor at the Bina Usaha Jeuram Market Complex, Seunagan District, Nagan Raya Regency, stated on Monday, May 18, 2020.
Usually, in the rest of Indonesia, rujak is made from various fruits, including pineapple, guava, papaya, and mango, or vegetables, such as water spinach, cucumber, and bean sprouts, with a spicy brown sugar sauce as its topping.
However, seunicah oen is made from any leaves found in the garden or forest around the Nagan Raya District, such as those of turmeric, kaffir lime, lime, guava, and ambarella fruit.
The leaves are rolled into a bundle and then finely diced. Afrizal pointed out that in order to boost the flavor quotient, the people of Nagan mix the leaves with a local seasoning made from lemongrass, chili peppers, onions, and various other spices before topping it with toasted, grated coconut.
“Seunicah oen is believed to help prevent cold and bad breath during fasting,” he revealed.
To intensify the flavor, he spoke of using banana leaves as its wrapping.
Afrizal, who has been in the business for five years, claimed to earn some Rp300 thousand a day from selling rujak daun. He sold seunicah oen priced from Rp5 thousand per pack and plans to utilize the money to fulfill the needs of his family during Eid al-Fitr.
Eid al-Fitr or the Festival of Breaking the Fast, is a religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of the month-long dawn-to-sunset fasting of Ramadhan.
EDITED BY INE