Time flies. The month of Ramadhan al Mubarak will be leaving us soon. So will the food bazaar that has sprung all over the place throughout Malaysia as is the custom every year. Preparation for Eid al Mubarak is already underway. Top of the list would be the cookies and cakes for guests that would be visiting. For the Malaysians, Eid al Fitr is celebrated for one whole month and as such the cookies must be made in a quantity to last that long.
Gone were the days when the ladies got together to bake cookies in groups. I believe they still practice this in the villages and small towns though, but not in the cities. Its a practice in accordance with the Malay tradition and custom called "Gotong Royong" loosely translated to mean joint bearing of burdens or "tolong-menolong" which means reciprocal assistance, voluntary in nature for the benefit of all. Much of communal work is done in this manner in a Malay society and similarly in the Nusantara of Indonesia, Singapore and Brunei.
Usually on the eve of the Eid the villagers would get together in groups to cook the special dishes for the big day. Tents would be raised and firewoods are gathered. Big woks are set up over the "tungku" or make shift stove. The ladies would prepare the ingredients for the "meat or chicken rendang" and the ketupat and lemang. The men help with the stirring of the dishes in the big woks and pots and making sure the firewoods are in good supply.
The main dishes are ketupat and lemang eaten with a spicy stew called rendang. Lemang is glutinous rice and coconut milk placed in a bamboo; lined with banana leaf and grilled over fire wood.
COOKING THE LEMANG
Ketupat palas is glutinous rice cooked in coconut milk and wrapped in palas leaf and boiled while ketupat nasi is rice stuffed into a woven coconut leaf satchel or pouch and boiled.
The special traditional cake for Eid would be dodol. It is made of rice/glutinous rice flour, sugar palm and coconut milk and stirred for hours till it thickens.
The best part of this cook out is that neighbours get to taste them too. The food are distributed to neighbours, whether they are Malays or Chinese or Indians or Thais etc. This is the custom that has done more for unity than any other programmed campaign. The way to anyone's heart I believe is through the stomach. A gift of food is the best gift there is. There is so much goodwill in that gesture. My Chinese neighbour never forget to give me cookies and oranges during Chinese New Year and angpau of course.Not forgetting the Indians too. I just love their special dishes during Divali.
I leave you with this proverbs:
Principles have no real force except when one is well fed.
- Mark Twain(1)
Confucius (551-479 B.C.) once said that the path to your friend's heart and love goes from your cooking.(2)
Till we meet again take care of yourself.
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source of quotes: (1) http://www.chinesefood-recipes.com
source of pics: google search