Archive for September, 2010

Follow guest writer Nadia on the trail of epic feasting:

After a month of fasting from dawn to dusk, Hari Raya Aidilfitri heralds a month of celebrations filled with relatives and friends, new clothes and fabulous food.

hari Raya

Hari Raya used to mean eating with abandon but having suffered the effects of bingeing after a month of fasting and being a more health-conscious/ weight-watching lot, we’ve learnt to scope out the homes with the best cooking and the best kuihs (pineapple tarts are a must!). With every home offering an array of savory dishes like ketupat, lontong, rendang, sambal prawn and more, followed by an assortment of pastries all of which are washed down with cold, sweet drinks, strategic planning where and what to eat becomes essential.

Aidilfitri celebrations

After all these years, we know which aunt makes the best ketupat (for breakfast), which aunt makes mouth-watering fried chicken to have with lontong (lunch) and this year we made the wonderful discovery of which aunt makes the best dhaal rice (dinner). That’s not counting the other breakfasts, lunches, dinners and compulsory desserts at each house visited, and I’m just talking about the first day of the month-long Raya festival!

Aidilfitri celebrations

This year’s Hari Raya fell on a three-day weekend which meant constant visiting. I love catching up with relatives you haven’t seen in ages even if they are a constant presence in your Facebook account. It’s just not the same as meeting in person when conversation ebbs and flows naturally across a group of people. And having good food on the table only makes it all the merrier.

Hari Raya

For other perspectives on Hari Raya food, more at  Hari Raya in April and Welcoming and Anticipating Hari Raya.

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nature's informal philosophy

I tread gingerly

A little wary, distracted.

Then I see you glide;

I smile, somewhat restored.

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Hari Raya

Each of us has a special memory of a festival which we celebrate. The memory can come from any stage of our life, and like a piece of favorite jewellery, it is always bright and meaningful, at least in our eyes. Here, I would like to share my special memory of Eid or Hari Raya as it is known in Malay. Best wishes for a Joyous Eid:

Anticipation is a powerful feeling. As a child celebrating Hari Raya in my kampung or neighborhood, the eve of Hari Raya was an equally important day as the first day of Raya itself.

Each family stayed up late to cook food for the next day. There were noise, activity and lights in every garden. In our garden, near the jambu tree, a fire was lit, and over it, my grandmother stirred a boiling pot of ketupat (rice dumplings). From our neighbor’s yard, the aroma of chicken curry wafted from their pot and fire.kampung

The children had put on new pajamas bought especially for Raya. The younger children would light up the sparklers, while the older ones created their own din with  firecrackers.

People strolled around the kampung greeting each other, or just to enjoy the atmosphere. It was like a fairyland to me, and I did not want to go to sleep, hoping that the night would metamorphose into the next day, Hari Raya itself. But, or course, I did eventually fall asleep, waking up on Raya morning to all the cakes, cookies and all the other fun things that came along with it.

But somehow, the night before, with all the easy fellowship, the aromas and the glow of the fires, cast a special magic for me, and will always be a wonderful memory of Hari Raya that I carry within me wherever I go.

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