Eid is celebrated by all Muslims around the world in conjunction to celebrate the end of Ramadhan. This is the season where long distance family and friends gather, host and offer their homes to reconnect and foster better relationships. The dining table is usually filled with comfort food favourites and extra dishes as lavish treats for guests. In Southeast Asia, rich and flavourful ingredients such as lamb, coconut, sugar, spices and herbs are widely used in the delicacies, which are usually quite labour intensive.
The recipes below shows how a complex dish can be ‘cheated’ with the right techniques and ingredients yet tastes as close as home feels, even when you’re abroad.
1. Half Time Beef RendangPreparation Time:
3 -5 hours depending on cut of meat
Beef Rendang simply means beef stew that’s infused with Asian spices, coconut cream and some aromatic roots. Usually cooked in large quantities for long hours on low heat to tenderize the meat. It's quite the star among Malay-descent countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines.
This recipe is from my mother and is a fragrant and saucy version instead of traditionally dry Rendang. It takes only half the time of any regular Rendang as this recipe calls for the tenderloin part of the beef.
Two ingredients sourced from coconut are commonly used is Rendang dishes. First, the thick and creamy coconut milk is added at half-time of the cooking process. Then, kerisik
is added only towards the last half an hour of cooking. Note that the only fat content is from the beef and the coconut, as no oil is used.
- 1kg beef brisket/loin/tenderloin cut to 0.5 inch slices
- 2 lemongrass hearts
- 1 inch ginger
- 2 inch galangal (lengkuas)
- 3 large size red onions
- 5 cloves garlic
- 4 cups water
- 3 tablespoons rehydrated dried cili paste (cili giling)
- 200g pre-mixed curry powder
- 1 whole coconut cream/milk
- 250g Kerisik (toasted coconut paste)
- 200g palm sugar
- 4 kafir lime leaves – ripped
- 2 tumeric leaves – chiffonade
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Place the beef, water, chili paste, curry powder and the blitzed mixture into a big wok and bring to a boil while stirring occasionally for 2 hours.
- Turn down the heat and add the coconut milk. Keep on low simmer and stir regularly for 1 hour.
- Add water if necessary to keep the beef moist and avoid leaving the bottom of the wok dry.
- Add the kerisik, palm sugar, salt and pepper to taste. Stir until combine.
- Sprinkle the turmeric and kafir lime leaves. Stir to combine and ready to serve.
If you decide to use other cuts of the meat, add on the cooking time on low heat. Stir it occasionally and add small amount of water if the pot looks dry.
2. Ketupat Palas - Glutinous Rice with Corn Kernels
Ketupat Palas is Malay for glutinous rice wrapped in palm leaves and weaved into a triangle shape. Traditionally, it is combined with soy beans to give an added creamy texture. We'll be twisting this recipe with sweet corn kernels and cheating our way by preparing it in one big serving dish instead of individually wrapped ketupat.
1 hour 20 minutes
- 750g glutinous rice
- 1 can of sweet corn kernels, drained
- 1 ½ whole coconut cream
- 2 pandanus leaves
- Salt to taste
- Banana leaves (optional)
- Place everything in a large pot and bring to a boil on high heat. Stir occasionally. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Lower the heat and leave to simmer for 5 minutes or so. The rice should be ¾ way cooked by this time.
- Turn off the heat and let the rice cool. Meanwhile, prepare an 8” baking dish and a steamer bath on high heat.
- Place the cooled rice into the baking dish and press and compress until all the rice fits in the dish. This ensures that the rice will set firmly. Use the banana leaves to help protect your fingers when pressing the rice.
- When the steamer is ready, cover the pressed rice with foil and place the dish into the steamer and cook for 40 mins to 1 hour. Always a good tip to ensure the water steamer does not dry out.
- Let the rice cool halfway before slicing it. Ready to serve!
3. Mixed Vegetables in Coconut Broth (Sayur Masak Lodeh)
Well known in Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia, this simple recipe shines true flavours of vegetables when harmonized in a large pot. Different regions choose to put different type of vegetables. The rule of thumb is to pick something starchy, sweet, and gives various textures. Keep in mind of the sizes of the prepared vegetables and consider the time cooking it as you don’t want all the natural gems to turn into mush!
- Blend to smooth paste:
- 3 medium shallots
- 5 cloves garlic
- Dried Shrimps – dehydrated
- 1 inch young ginger root
- 2 inches Galanggal
- 1 cup Tempeh - sliced
- 1 big Jicama – thinly sliced
- 1 big Brinjal – julienne
- 1 big Carrots – julienne
- 1 medium Cucumber – julienne
- 1 small Sweet potato – small cubes and parboiled
- 4 strands Long beans – cut to a diagonal
- 300g Prawns – peeled and deveined
- 100g Fu Chuk – crushed
- 100g So Hoon (clear rice vermicelli) – dehydrated in warm water, strain and keep seperate
- 2 whole Coconut Cream
- 3 lemograss root – smashed
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- Heat up a large pot with cooking oil. Saute blended items until fragrant aroma appears.
- Add lemongrass, prawns and half the coconut cream with 1 cup water.
- Add the vegetables one at a time starting with carrots, brinjal and long beans until softened. Add jicama, sweet potatoes and cucumber, Fu Chuk and the rest. Reminding which vegetable will need most and least time to cook.
- Add the remaining coconut cream and season to taste. Be sure to stir it constantly to avoid from curdling.
- Ready to serve with rice cakes and Spicy Peanut Sauce as recipe written below!
Not to worry if you don’t have all the listed items! Always opt for what’s in season and fresh at your market to give the recipe your own twist.
4. Spicy Peanut Sauce with Cuttlefish
Popular in the southern part of Thailand, the cuttlefish are sometimes opted for other dried fish such as dried shrimp. Cut the time prepping this dish by purchasing ready-made chilli paste and crushed peanuts. Opt for chunky peanut butter if you can’t find crushed peanuts in air-tight packaging. Additionally, prepare all the aromatics together by blending it all in the blender at once.
- 500g packaged toasted and blended peanuts
- ½ cup chilli paste
- 2 small pieces dried cuttlefish – rehydrated and diced
- 2 tbsp dried shrimp paste
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup peanut oil
- 1 Lemongrass root
- 3 Onions
- 5 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp palm sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat a medium pot with frying oil. Add all the blended aromatic and dried shrimp paste and fry till fragrant.
- Add the chilli paste and cook until the oil turns red and chilli smoke fills the air, about 8 – 12 mins.
- Add the blended peanuts, water and cuttlefish and stir constantly
- Add the seasoning, tamarind juice and palm sugar and mix to combine.
You can control the heat of the sauce by reducing or increasing the amount in this recipe. Additionally, palm sugar gives a different kind of sweetness to the sauce instead of regular white sugar.
With simple ingredients and the right methods in cooking, celebrating Eid will feel like a breeze when hosting in your own kitchen at home. Try out these recipes and you’ll be surprised!