For most people, food talk is serious talk. Since it’s still Eid (at least for Bruneians), I’d like to dedicate this blog post to talk about traditional food enjoyed within the Southeast Asian communities.
I’ve mentioned that there is something ‘special’ in the food served during this festive time. There’s something about the food that gave Eid a significant meaning, it is based on the sincerity of the individuals in preparing the food and contributing their time, effort, money and energy. It’s a selfless act which is admirable.
Eid without the traditional foods will not feel complete. The foods are what strengthen the bond of the families as they work together to cook up a feast, it makes the guests happy and makes the celebration a happy occasion. It keeps people talking because I think everyone can agree that food is great for bonding and socialising. A fancy buffet is one way to describe the way the food is presented because it is served in special and lavish kitchenware. It may sound like I’m exaggerating but let me tell you this, my mother has a special set of cutlery and china that we never use for any other occasions except for Eid. So that explains why, it makes the celebration feel extra special.
The main staple food for Malay is rice, so naturally, we must serve rice for Eid. But the rice dishes for Eid are cooked in different ways and even in different shapes! One of the most common rice dish is Ketupat. It symbolises Eid and it’s overly mentioned in Eid greeting cards, poems and songs. Some shops even use the Ketupat casings as decorations.
Ketupat is basically rice cooked in intricately woven palm leaves, shaped like diamonds, which makes the process of making it a little complicated and requires patience. It’s usually eaten with beef or chicken dishes such as curries or rendang (another common Eid dish). In my household however, instead of Ketupat, we serve Kelupis with my father’s famous Eid beef curry. It is glutinous rice wrapped in Nyirik leaves, which is easier to make and unfold when you eat it. There are different types of Kelupis fillings available like chicken, beef or dried shrimp (my favourite!) but it can also be eaten plain with other dishes.
The pictures below show Ketupat eaten with peanut sauce and what looked like beef rendang (left) and an unfolded Kelupis eaten with a chicken dish (right).
Satay, either chicken or meat, is juicy, tender and full of flavour, especially when paired with a spicy peanut sauce with small chunks of peanuts for that satisfying bite! I promise you if you pick one up, you’ll be picking up more and the next thing you know, you couldn’t stop and you have eaten more than you intended to!
Satay is more than just a normal skewered and grilled meat on a stick. On my side of the world, it’s the blend of spices that goes into the marinade of the meat which makes Satay what it is. You can’t simply call skewered meat on a stick Satay without the special blend of spices and the spicy peanut sauce. Not all Satay is made in its traditional form which is skewered and grilled. Conveniently, it is also fried instead of grilled which is just as good. The picture below shows both Chicken and Beef Satay served with peanut sauce and Ketupat.
What is a feast without desserts? One of the famous desserts served during Eid is the “Tapak Kuda” – when translated to English it means horseshoe. I guess the name derived from the shape of the cake because it resembles horseshoes. The cake will remind you of a swiss roll cake except that the shape and size is slightly different, and a huge amount of Nutella is used for the filling. This cake is everyone’s favourite because if you’re not fast enough to put it on your plate, you probably won’t get a chance to eat it before it’s all gone!
Other than the “horseshoe cake”, there are several other biscuits that are commonly eaten during Eid as well. This includes Kuih Mor, a crumbly melt-in-the mouth round biscuit covered in powdered sugar. I remember baking these with my siblings before Eid in huge batches and thinking it was such a chore. The picture of Kuih Mor below will speak for how time-consuming the process is. However, I have decided to “retire” from baking these biscuits because it requires a lot of patience and I simply just don’t have the time and patience anymore. I prefer making cakes over biscuits for Eid as it is more time efficient.
So, I guess that concluded my perspective on Eid. Unfortunately, I have not been able to spend Eid with my family for three years in a row now so these are based on memories of how a typical Eid would be like for me. It truly is an enjoyable occasion for me as it is the only time where almost everyone go all out on the celebration and festivities.