This one is a very unusual food indeed. I was given a little green package as a freebie promotional snack at a Malay restaurant, advertising more of the same. Opening it up I found it contained a little parcel of glutinous rice (the pulut bit of the name). However, I only know the word tapai from my time in Malaysian villages, where it is an alcoholic drink made from rice, coconut or sugar cane. Surely it couldn’t be alcoholic, especially as it was on offer at a halal restaurant…?
My wife told me that tapai pulut is a very popular snack at Malay weddings, so I began to doubt my memory. However it smelled alcoholic, and on tasting, it seemed to me to be like a parcel of rice soaked in sweet sherry (not terrific, but ok). I looked at the recipe online: glutinous rice, sugar, yeast, and water. Leave to ferment for a couple of days…hmmm.
Anyway, I did a bit more research and it seems the Malaysian halal authority has determined that the liquid left over after fermenting sugar is officially not, in the case of tapai pulut, alcohol, making it halal. So that’s ok then! I’d have again, especially as I enjoy a good loophole.