In keeping with the festive spirit of Hari Raya, here’s a look at some of the sumptuous staples you will enjoy at open houses
In Malaysia, the celebration of Eid Al Fitr or Hari Raya Aidil Fitri can last up to a month. It is a festive time indeed, when “open houses” by friends, colleagues and VIPs offer colourful and tasty spreads of traditional Malay delicacies just waiting to be sampled and enjoyed.
Just turn up, even uninvited, and you are still welcomed to a Hari Raya gastronomic treat!
Made from glutinous rice, this Malay staple dates back hundreds of years and is still made the traditional way. The sticky rice, cooked with coconut milk, is wrapped in banana leaf and stuffed inside a hollow bamboo before being grilled … a process that lasts a few hours. Even during non-festive periods, you’d find lemang being sold along highways, especially on the east coast. Most often, lemang is eaten with rendang, serunding (meat floss) or peanut sauce.
This Malaysian favourite comes in various types, from your typical beef or chicken rendang to fish and even cockle rendang. The rendang can be the gravy variety or cooked dry.
A flavourful broth-like dish that is made up of several vegetables such as long beans, carrots, galangal, soya bean and tempe (deep fried soya bean) cooked in coconut milk, turning it into a soupy mixture known as lodeh. You can also add sambal ikan bilis (anchovies in chili paste) into the mixture when eating, according to taste.
This staple is made from rice cooked in a weave of coconut leaves. The other variety is the ketupat pulut which is made from sticky rice, wrapped in fan palm leaves in a triangular shape. There is also the sweet variety of the ketupat pulut with sugar added, often found if you’re visiting friends from the east coast.
Both lemang and ketupat can be eaten with the serunding (in Kelantan it’s called sambal daging). This a localised type of meat floss and can be made from beef, fish or plain grated coconut cooked with brown sugar.
Arguably Malaysia’s most famous food, satay is seasoned meat on skewers, made from beef, chicken or mutton. Nowadays you can have satay from other types of meat as well. This dish is so popular that you can find many different varieties in Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and even Thailand.
Kuih covers both cakes and cookies … and there are many traditional delights to be sampled during the festive season. Among these are bahulu, the taste and colour of which reminds one of cupcakes but which comes in a more angular and longish shape. Another delicacy usually found during festivals is dodol, which is made from coconut milk, rice flour, brown sugar, sugar and salt.
Other popular Malay kuih include biskut bangkit, kuih makmur, kuih putu kacang and kuih batang buruk.
Those who are worried about their sugar levels or waist size can of course turn to less sweet stuff such as crackers made from sweet potatoes, bananas or dhal, known in Malay as kerepek ubi, kerepek pisang and kerepek kacang dal. Or better still go for the fish or prawn crackers known as keropok to get rid of the feeling you get from consuming too much meat!
As with all Malaysian celebrations, Hari Raya is indeed the time to eat to your heart’s content with friends and family!
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