Tuesday, June 23, 2009

How to make Bunga Rampai

My auntie Nah, Syikin's mom asked me to do Bunga Rampai fresh flower potpourri for her daughter's wedding since she saw me doing that for my brother's wedding feast (which I have not uploaded any pictures yet, sorry!) . In Malay, it is called Bunga Rampai. 'Bunga' means flower, and 'rampai' means varieties or assortment. So bunga rampai means an assortment of flowers.

Bunga rampai is used in many important occasions of the Malay folks : circumcision, graduation of Koran study, shaving a baby's hair, funeral , wedding etc. In Malay weddings during the olden days, it was an essential dowry item and was smoked all night long in the nuptial chamber.
I'm not sure how it's smoked though since I've never really learned how to make bunga rampai the 'real way'.

You can use any kind of nice smelling flowers, plus flowers with bright colors. The usual flowers that we always use, which are considered traditional smelling are like jasmines, frangipani/plumeria, roses, and chempakas (white and yellow versions of local magnolia flowers). But the MAIN ingredient of bunga rampai is always fresh pandan leaves or screwpine leaves. Sometimes shredded kaffir lime skin is also used since it has nice fresh smell.

Emir is busy cutting the pandan leaves at Tok's backyard.

Is this enough ma?

First, the pandan leaves need to be finely sliced as fine as possible like what would one do for cutting ginger strips). How much you need depends on how much you want the potpourri to be but rule of thumb for me is is to have 3/4 of the whole mixture from the leaves. Next is to shred flower petals coarsely if they're too big but it's really up to you as to how you want your potpourri to be. I always leave jasmines are they are coz they're already perfect. And then you mix all up!

Next is to mix the mixture with fragrance. I use jasmine concentrated oil as I love jasmine. Some people also use rose water and then they smoke it with incense (as I've mentioned earlier) so that the smell is stronger but I prefer to use simplied version =). I think it's best to mix the oil with the pandan leaves first until they're well coated and only then add the flowers. I found that when I mixed the flowers directly with the oil, they browned quickly.

When everything is well mixed, you can choose whatever ways to stuff your bunga rampai. I choose to use fine net or you can choose to put it in organza pouch. Or you can put it into small baskets made of screw pine just like the old days (which for me is really tedious to make), or put them in folded betel leaves or just leave them in bowls around the house or the place where the wedding is to be held and let the fragrance permeate the air and whoever wants to have some potpourri can just grab some. Mom used to do that and she would use a tissue paper to wrap them. Nowadays people prefer to have it conveniently packed for guests.

Take a handful of the potpourri and put it in the middle of the net.

Secure it with a fine wire and tie a ribbon to make it prettier =)

So here you go, a basket of bunga rampai!