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The million dollar question I ask my husband every day is – what do you want for dinner tonight? Preparing dinner for your family can be mentally exhausting as you try your utmost best not to repeat dishes throughout the week. Ramadan is no different. In fact, the pressure is higher as you have not eaten the whole day.
We have whipped up some ideas for you to prepare your iftar dishes should you run out of dishes to cook!
1. Chinese Black Pepper Beef
I first fell in love with this dish when my mom first made it. I remember asking her for the recipe to which she replied - it’s relatively easy. I don’t know about you, but I feel most moms say that. And whenever I attempt on a recipe she had given; sure, it is relatively easy, but it just never tastes the same! I guess it’s true what they say about your mom’s cooking.
Credit: omnivorescookbookThis dish is not complicated and perfect for meat lovers (like my husband). Domestic goddesses will definitely know how to modify this dish to their family’s preference. As for my take on it, we usually cook this dish with spring onions instead of bell peppers.
Get the recipe here!
2. Spicy Chicken With Coconut Milk (Ayam Masak Lemak Cili Api)
A dish with a mouthful name deserves a mouthful of attention! To say coconut milk is famous in the region is an understatement. Most Nusantara dishes use coconut milk (Nasi Lemak, Rendang, Curry – just to name a few), so you can imagine how strong the force is with this one. And this dish we are about to highlight, is no different. Growing up, this dish never appealed to me despite popular attention. It probably was because 1) it's too milky for my liking and 2) mom always used fish instead of chicken! Not until I was direly craving for this specific dish during my first pregnancy. Now, my family and I make this dish at least fortnightly.
3. Javanese Fried Sambal (Sambal Goreng Jawa) + Nasi Ambeng
I was first introduced to this super yummy fried sambal back in the 90s when I was still in school but because this dish has left me in awe, it is one of my favourite vegetable dishes to date. The Javanese Fried Sambal can be a dish on its own alongside other dishes you have cooked. Its magic ingredient? You guessed it – coconut milk.
However, this dish is usually served along with Nasi Ambeng, a Javanese cuisine typically served in a large tray alongside several dishes (to your preference) to be shared with 4 to 5 people. Perfect for a family get together and rekindling relationships – by sharing food out of the same talam (tray) as picture below.
Credit: halal in the city
If you have not already tried this dish, you should definitely try it.
Get the recipe for Nasi Ambeng here!
4. Steamed Fish
I hardly cook fish because my husband is more of a red meat person but when he somehow decides on fish for dinner, we opt for steamed fish! This particular dish is a good option for us as it is friendlier to our growing toddler than the spicy dishes as above. Besides, eating out for steamed fish can be quite costly. If you cook it yourself, not only you get to choose your ingredients, you also get to tweak the recipe to your family’s liking.
5. Fried Calamari with Salted Egg
Fried calamari itself is a very diverse dish as people all around the world are quite familiar with it. But what we eat fried calamari with, makes the difference. Some parts of the world eat it with tartar sauce, lemon and whatnots. Here within the corridors of Southeast Asia, we give it a little twist to the authentic fried calamari by adding salted egg into the equation. And of course for me, a little bit of sambal belacan because it will be an incomplete course without chilli.
And some sambal belacan tips here ;)
6. Water Spinach with Shrimp Paste (Kangung Belacan)
Cooking water spinach with shrimp paste for one is quite simple. Shrimp paste is commonly used in most Southeast Asian dishes and this particular dish goes across borders from the little islands of Indonesia to our Northern neighbour, Thailand. Just be a little mindful for whom you are cooking for as some people might be allergic to the shrimp paste.
7. Spicy Sour Tempoyak (Asam Pedas Tempoyak)
My mom would always cook asam pedas every other week while I was growing up – until I got quite bored of it. Now that I am married and live in a different house than she, I realize how much I miss her asam pedas dish. So I decided to ask her for the recipe and you guessed quite right, it doesn’t taste the same. But I did try to venture on a different twist than her usual asam pedasby adding a little bit of fermented durian paste – just for the thrill of it. You should give it a try too, check out the steps below.
P.S. Please feel free to alternate chicken or fish if you prefer that!
8. Indian Butter Chicken
This particular dish may differ a little than the ones above as Butter Chicken originated from India with traces rooted from Punjabi cuisine, as compared to the ones above which are more oriental and have a more Nusantara feeling. The fact that you can easily get butter chicken in Malaysia also proves how vast the food scene is in this part of the world. In fact, most of us are inspired to attempt cooking our own butter chicken after trying this dish out at local restaurants. It took quite some time for me to gain some confidence to try this dish out though. You should check it out and give it a try by checking out the recipe!
Credit: rasa malaysia
Keeping track of the dishes you have cooked and will be cooking in the month of Ramadan can also be a good idea. I have a special Ramadan journal that consists of Ramadan Meal Planner among other things, this helps me to keep track of my time, meal plans, productivity and progress everyday.
Please let us know if you decide to try any of the above dishes and if it works for your family. We would also love to hear from you if you have any yummy recipes in mind! Last but not least, have a blessed Ramadhan and baraqaAllahu feekum!