That time of the year again. Eid'ul Fitr, also known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri / Puasa and Lebaran here, in the Malay Peninsula. An Islamic festive celebration to commemorate the arrival of Syawal at the end of Ramadhan, after a month of fasting.
Usually celebrated for only a day in the Middle-East but over here, especially in Malaysia & Singapore, we somehow celebrate it throughout the WHOLE month of Syawal. Especially in Singapore, it's quite phenomenal, considering our country is teeny-tiny yet we celebrate it like we have to venture really far to visit relatives & friends (as the case with Malaysia & Indonesia).
Anyway, down to the food. When we think of Eid, we think of really rich, savoury foods, overwhelming spices and varieties. It's a good thing really, to have most of these foods commonly served at this time of the year ONLY. Won't do our hearts and arteries any good, should we consume these too often.
Here's what my maternal grandma prepared for us.
Food by my grandma
Clockwise from top-left: sambal goreng kecambah, dalcha (Indian vegetable curry), sambal udang petai, rendang itik & in the centre - lontong (compressed rice cake).
Not pictured, was a small tub of traditional Nasi Minyak (rice cooked with ghee).
Sambal udang petai
Shrimps/prawns and petai/stinky beans/'sataw' fried in fiery red chili paste.
Duck stewed in spicy coconut gravy.
It's actually pretty uncommon to serve duck during Hari Raya, so it's considered pretty 'exotic'. It's very popular with the Chinese here, but some Malays considered the taste to be a tad 'gamey'. My adventurous grandma has also served us venison meat before. I can't recall how she prepared it. Either rendang or curry.
Preparing duck in this manner was a good initiation by my grandma, to mask any 'gamey' smell. All that ginger, tumeric, gallangal, onions, chilli, shallots etc. And coconut milk. She only managed to get a young duck so the meat was fall-off-the-bone tender. Succulent!
Sambal goreng kecambah
'Kecambah' is actually green beans that's soaked overnight. By then, the thin, green skin will start to separate from the yellow flesh.
It is then fried briefly, where the skin will float to the surface naturally and then discarded. The yellow parts are then fried in spices & chilli with other items like shrimps, stink beans and beef or chicken offals.
Ayam goreng serai
Another one of my grandma's specialty.
Her helper will painstakingly julienne or slice thinly some lemongrass, use them to marinate the chicken with other spices. Sometimes, dessicated coconut is also added. The chicken is then deep fried and the lemongrass and coconut will become really crispy, tasty morsels.
Food by my grandaunt
At the last house for that day, my grandaunt prepared beef rendang, ayam masak merah (chicken stewed in spicy tomato gravy) and serunding (spiced dessicated coconut), to be eaten with 3 different type of carbs. There's lontong, ketupat and ba chang.
Ba Chang, interestingly, is a Chinese food item. Glutinous rice, flavoured with a bit of soy sauce and wrapped with bamboo leaves. Traditionally, there's meat in the centre but my creative grandaunt prepared plain ones to be eaten with the other dishes.
On another day, I went to a fabulous-looking house where this bachelor with pretty chi-chi tastes lives with his elderly mum.
He served us the traditional Javanese salad dish, Gado-gado. It was pretty creative of him to place the multitude of ingredients on a tampi, which is a traditional tool used to separate raw rice grains from their husks.
On the tampi, almost all the items are blanched, save for the raw cucumber and boiled potatoes & eggs. The blanched vegetables are white cabbage, bean sprouts, long beans and kang kong. this will later be doused in spicy peanut gravy and topped with crackers.
My favourite sweet goodies aren't really the traditional ones, that I have to admit. Even the pineapple tarts, I prefer those with bits of crunchy cheese in the base.
I usually gun straight for the chocolate items or those with cornflakes, like the one above. Simply cornflakes with honey, a little butter and some sugar to hold it all together. It's then baked.
The outcome are crunchy nuggets of honey flavoured cornflakes, akin to a moist version of Nestle Honey Gold.
These are like little nuggets of meringue with cornflakes and chocolate chips. These are what I'll willingly pay for since I don't bother to make it myself.
One thing, I wouldn't know what to do with all the unused egg yolks when I utilised the egg-whites for the meringue. Not like I make pineapple tarts, anyway. Another thing is that we need to know our ovens really well because it require different temperature and timings for different ovens.
My neighbour told me she baked hers for over 2 hours! O__o
One thing I know, when I see these, I can down at least 10 nos. easily. :P
So there you go. Raya goodies. Very rich. Pretty spicy. Not-that-healthy. But taste oh-sooo-good!