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hari raya food

Encik Aziz displaying his cooked ketupat in a manner that reminds me of my childhood kampung home.

Shopping for Eid, or Hari Raya as it is known in Malay, is in full swing in Geylang Serai, the Malay district in Singapore. In the last few days of Ramadan, the stores and bazaar offer almost everything in preparation for the celebrations.

As I wander around, I take in the colors. I see things new and things traditional. Festive food sold includes ketupat, rice dumplings eaten with meat dishes and a variety of sauces.

It takes a lot of work to prepare the ketupat from scratch – the way my grandmother and grandaunt did. We all helped, too, with the various tasks.

It starts with buying stalks of young coconut leaves. The leaves are woven into pouches using age-old techniques. The pouches are then partly filled with rice, and sealed. The final stage, the cooking, requires boiling the ketupat for at least four hours till the rice expands to a nicely firm texture.

It’s good that some people are selling the ketupat in various stages of preparation, providing that convenience for many households.

I come across Encik (Mr in Malay) Aziz selling fully prepared ketupat. Stop by for a little chat, and convey my respect for folks like him who keep our traditional foods and arts alive in the face of changing times.

I smile at the way he stores the ketupat – hanging on a pole. My grandmother used to do that in our kampung or childhood home. I really don’t know why, but as a kid, I loved the sight of the wooden pole laden with ketupat hanging in our kitchen.

Memories come rushing back: the ketupat and food prepared by my grandmother’s loving, meticulous hands, enjoyed by our extended family every festive season.

Selamat Hari Raya. Happy Eid.

hari raya feasting

Ready-made ketupat pouches at the Geylang Serai Market.

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lionel richie concert

Lionel Richie entertained the fans with a selection of his biggest hits.

I’ve always been a Lionel Richie fan. To me, some of his ballads are the most romantic ones ever sung.

So, I was glad to be able to catch his All the Hits All Night Long concert in Southern California recently.

The concert was opened by CeeLo Green who is most well-known via the TV show The Voice.

Then the stage was set up for Lionel Richie, with his piano raised in the middle of the stage.

When he first came on stage, he said: “There are two kinds of people here. Those who have been with me since the beginning, since the Commodores, and those who call me Mr Richie.”

Later, he also quipped: “We have been together for a very long time. Think about it. When I was in love, you were in love. When I fell out of love, you fell out of love … You got old. I stayed young.”

I have to say the man looks good to be 64. But more importantly, his voice sounded almost the same as you hear it over the airwaves, and he gave the fans a continuous flow of hits. The ballads include “Easy” and “Truly” “My Love” interspersed with the faster hits such as “Dancing on the Ceiling” and “All Night Long”.

He ended the concert by graciously thanking the audience, especially the fans who have been with him through the years.

It was really an enjoyable show. And it was also inspiring to see and to comprehend the kind of passion and dedication that has made Richie one of the best-selling artists of all time.

lionel richie concert

(pic: OC Register)

 

 

 

My Corner

cat's spot

jalapeno ketchup

Am I seeing jalapeno everywhere? (After the last post.)

Found this limited edition Heinz ketchup blended with jalapeno at the local Target store. It tastes the same as the original ketchup – the difference is the mild-medium spicy end note.

Ketchup is an important ingredient in my kitchen, not only as a condiment for fries and potatoes. When I cook chicken or beef curry, I often add a touch of ketchup to give it a more rounded flavor.

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