Rojak (1966) (a Malay salad)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Tue Dec 28 18:49:01 UTC 2004

On Tue, 28 Dec 2004 09:43:22 EST, Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:

>ROJAK--102,000 Google hits, 632 Google Groups hits
>(Not in OED, "miserable on food")
>I have a few citations in the archives, but not historical. As expected,
>the Los Angeles Times has it.
>18 December 1966, pg. K19:
>_Singapore: New_
>_Upholstered Asia_
>The Indian stalls purvey rojak, a mess of bean cakes, fried  crab
>claws, dusted with chili powder, sprinkled with cucumbers and onions and
>smothered with a thick gravy.

The Encarta dictionary has it:

rojak (1)
ro·jak (plural ro·jaks)
noun  Malaysia
1. mixed salad: a mixed salad of fruit and vegetables
[Late 20th century. From Malay, literally "mixed."]
rojak (2)
ro·jak (plural ro·jaks)
noun  Malaysia
1. taboo term: a taboo term for a person of mixed ethnic background (slang)

You might also search for the usual Indonesian spellings of the salad:
"rujak" (spelling since 1972), "rudjak" (spelling from 1950 to 1972), or
"roedjak" (spelling before 1950 and still the most common Dutch spelling).

In Indonesia, the sweet/sour/spicy "rujak" sauce is also used for grilling
chicken or beef, in a dish called "ayam bumbu rujak" (chicken) or "daging
bumbu rujak" (beef).  There's a hit for "daging bumbu rujak" in a March
31, 1965 LA Times review of JB's Little Bali Cafe in Inglewood.
Remarkably, the restaurant is still there and is still serving "daging
bumbu rujak":

--Ben Zimmer

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