Wednesday, December 8, 2010

To Ranau with love: Making ‘Bunga Rampai’ from home grown roses

From a humble garden to glorious ‘hantaran’ platter, my roses boarded the plane and travelled far to Ranau, Sabah; a town famous for its majestic Mount Kinabalu, for my brother’s in law wedding. The roses were made as bunga rampai or Malay fresh potpourri (assortment of fresh flowers).

If you wonder what hantaran is, it is the dowry and/or the gifts exchanged between the bride and groom. Bunga rampai is made usually part of the hantaran to perfume the occasion.

Ranau is not with absence of fresh roses. In fact, Ranau being at the foot of Mount Kinabalu; the South East Asia's tallest mountain, is with plenty of sunshine and has the perfect temperature for cut roses industry. Roses grown here are sold to the rest of Sabah and sometimes across border to Brunei Darussalam.

I decided it was simply most exciting and a proud moment to use my own roses for the wedding.

How to make bunga rampai:

Bunga rampai is used in many important occasions of the Malay: circumcision, graduation of Quran study, shaving a baby's hair, funeral, wedding etc.

I think of bunga rampai as an assortment of flowers and leaves. Bunga means flower, rampai means assortment. So, as to what flowers and leaves to use, simply select ones with lots of fragrance. Any combinations of flowers and leaves are fine.

The basic ingredient always is the fresh pandan leaves (screw pine leaves). Some would add fresh kaduk leaves (wild betel leaves) to enhance the fragrance.

The pandan leaves were taken too from my backyard. I finely sliced them into thin strips. Other leaves if added should be treated the same way. (See the photo of pandan tree in Stephanie's blog)

Then I added fresh flower petals to the strips. They may not be sliced as they can get sticky and staining the blade or cloth that comes in contact. The petals can dry up pretty quickly too. Tearing the petals helps if they turn out looking too big.

Many fragrant flowers can be used to create a different version of bunga rampai.

Jasmine, frangipani, kesidang (bread flower, also known as Tikar Seladang or Kerak Nasi), chempaka flowers (white and yellow versions of the local magnolia flowers) and roses are among the favourite flowers for bunga rampai. (Read more about kesidang in Autumn Belle’s blog)

Kenanga or ylang ylang flowers are traditionally be added as they possess strong and lasting fragrance, even after they have completely dried. (View ylang ylang in James's blog)

For my bunga rampai, the choice of flowers was completely roses as I only had roses flowering in the garden. I selected the most fragrant varieties and that included my ros kampong.

Unfortunately, my Indian rose was just budding, so it didn’t get into the mix.

Indian rose is a red rose famous for its fragrance and is used widely by Indians for wedding décor, as potpourri, ceremonial tent décor, braided into the hair of the bride, etc.

Whatever flowers used, bunga rampai has to be joyful to look at as well. This means, flowers have to be of variety of colours.

To give that perfect blend of aroma, shredded skin or the zest of limau purut (kaffir lime or the rough skinned lime) is too added to the mix. This would add to the richness of the smell.

Lastly, add in fragrant water/oil for bunga rampai's lasting fragrance. If sweeter fragrant is preferred, then rose oil/water or rose hip oil is the perfect choice.

Safflower oil is another good substitute. Lavender and geranium oil is great for musky smell. Some people would add sandalwood powder for perfume that is out of this world.

Mixed them all up and that's it - bunga rampai!

Bunga rampai has many uses. Put bunga rampai in a linen cloth or potpourri bag or leave them to dry in a bowl or a platter. The smell can be enjoyed for days.

Bunga rampai can also be used for a relaxing aromatherapy bath.

Due to heavy travelling, it was decided that the hantaran was made simple. The bunga rampai was tied in ribboned linen and placed in silver cups as seen in the picture (on the right). The fruit basket contains grapes, strawberries, apples and the local jambu air madu or water cherry or watery rose apple (scientific name is Syzygium aqueum). The leaves decorating were a steal too from my garden.

Fish massage at Ranau.
The huge fishes or the mahseer fish (called as Pelian fish by the locals or known to many as ikan kelah)
were massaging (and occasionally biting my feet), in the local river.

What can be seen is the peak of Mount Kinabalu, a view from the village.
Though I've made it to the peak once, the beauty has made me wish for another round.
The roses grown and sold by the locals.

Lastly, a rose - captured at Rose Cabin, Ranau.
Copyright of Rough Rosa


Shida said...

Tengok kat sini teringin pulak nak buat bunga rampai.....

Bestnya pegi Sabah, saya baru jejak kat kat Kundasang, mmg teringin nak pegi lagi.

Malar said...

I'm speachless!
The roses are so lovely! The hantaran too! You're so creative!

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

Oh how I miss making bunga rampai. Unfortunately pandan won't survive the cold weather here. Your hantaran preparation look very nice.

ROUGH.ROSA said...

Shida@kundasang is a very lovely place. Yes, I would go too many more time. Especially since we got to scout some orchids as well.

Malar@thanks. It was a rush job but a proud one for obvious reason - at last I have use for my roses.

Malay Kadazan@ thanks. The pandan was taken from a puny tree. It was sufficient but I too was thinking if not, buying pandan from the cold shelves sounds like good plan... hehe this might help ya too..