Monday, November 20, 2006

Month of Syawal

Maybe it's a bit too late to be writing about Syawal. Nevertheless it need to be written. The month of Syawal follows after the month of Ramadhan. If Ramadhan is about fasting, Syawal is about celebrating of the completion of a fasting month. This is the month where Malaysians (especially Muslims) went visiting each other and ask for forgiveness.

For Malaysian with 'kampung' to go back to, this is the time for 'balik kampung'. Family members (brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts etc) get together to celebrate 1st Syawal.

The signature delacacies for Eid Mubarak (1st Syawal) are lemang, rendang, and dodol. Lemang is some sort of starchy / sticky rice cooked in bamboo. It is eaten with rendang.

Rendang is either meat or chicken other cooked in spices and coconut milk. There are rendang consisted of jackfruit, and even tapioca shoot, but generally the rendang that you eat with lemang is the meat / chicken kind.

Dodol is a traditional malay 'candy'. It is very 'chewy' like a buble gum but you can't make buble out of it. It is made of among others coconut milk and sugar. The initially liquid ingredient, is cooked and stirred till it is thickened.

Less and less people cook their own lemang and dodol due to the tedious work and effort needed to produce a good lemang or dodol. For lemang your need to find the bamboo. Rice and water (mixed with coconut milk ) need to be just right for the lemang to taste good. The fire (usually wood is used to make the fire) must be control so as the lemang would not burned.

While dodol could be cooked over gas stove, the mixture need to be continously stirred to avoid burned. Stirring a very sticky mixture needs some degree of strength and patience.

More people prefer buying lemang and rendang from roadside hawkers. These hawkers could be easily found along the road heading back to 'kampung's.

Next time if you are in Malaysia somewhere in Ramadhan, do stay a little bit longer for Syawal to experience more traditional Malay food and the celebration of Eid Mubarak.

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