“THE ORIGIN OF “LAMPRAIS” by Anne-Marie Kellar

“THE ORIGIN OF “LAMPRAIS” by Anne-Marie Kellar

With so much confusion or lack of information out there these days, almost anything wrapped up in a banana leaf is being passed off as a “Lamprais”. So instead of repeatedly explaining this, I decided to do a permanent post about it in the interest of correcting any misconceptions that exist!

Lamprais are quintessentially a Dutch Burgher delicacy, but these words by Arun Dias Bandaranaike, although not a Dutch Burgher, explained it brilliantly.

In his words, ” In as much as it may not be ideal to have the so called Mona Lisa dressed up to be modernly chic, and have her wear headphones ( so that we can figure she may have heard something to smile about!!) the tangential bits to the Lamprais may, in fact, allow many to imagine that a ” rice packet” wrapped in a jolly banana leaf “qualifies” to have the term Lamprais attached there with . The Dutch Burgher families of yore had it down to a fine art. Some people knew the subtleties and delights to be found in the ‘authentic’ version inspired by the Dutch.” ( end quote)

Firstly, Lamprais are NOT a Dutch creation! It was INSPIRED by the Dutch, who brought some of the recipes with them from Indonesia where the VOC had their headquarters. Eg the Blachan….a typical Indonesian speciality, made of dried shrimp.

The name “Lamprais ” ( or Lomprijst in Dutch) probably was derived from the Indonesian dish Lempur which consists of cooked rice and meat wrapped and steamed in banana leaves.

Frikkadels, or deep fried meat balls are probably the only typically Dutch influenced component of this delicacy.

The Dutch Burgher community, to which I belong, painstakingly cut up every ingredient into tiny cubes so that the Lamprais could be eaten easily with a spoon and fork.

No bones of any kind should ever be included!! And NEVER a big joint of chicken!

The traditional meat curry consisted of beef, mutton, chicken, pork and Ox liver, cooked in a special recipe. In my opinion, it is possible to make allowances for people with special dietary requirements or restrictions,  and use eg only chicken, without altering the taste too much.

The other condiments/curries in a typical Lamprais are Brinjal Pahi, Seeni Sambol, and of course the Frikkadels and Blachan. Ash plantains cubed, fried and cooked in a white curry are a later addition, and not compulsory.

And then the rice itself! It has to be the finest smallest grain rice, which is cooked in a good rich  home made stock, with spices etc.

Everything is then packed ( in small portions) in a SINGLE PIECE of banana leaf, folded neatly, and baked until the aroma and flavour of the leaf permeates right throughout the parcel.


The biggest insult to a Lamprais is adding a hard boiled egg or fish of any kind!!!

Change any of the above, and you have a “rice packet” as Arun DB said, NOT A LAMPRAIS.

( here are some pics of Lamprais made by me some time ago. They show the Lamprais before wrapping, after packing and after baking)

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