Here’s wishing all Muslim and non- Muslim readers of Over A Cuppa Tea Eid Mubarak and happy holidays. Eid, or better known by locals in Malaysia as Aidilfitri, is celebrated after a whole month of fasting during Ramadan. Eid signify the celebration and triumph of good over evil after one whole month of fasting and doing good deeds. During Eid, people too would seek forgiveness from one another and turn a new leaf in their lives.
Malaysia, being a country that practices Islam as it’s national religion usually celebrate Eid merrily with joy and laughter. And if one talk about Eid in Malaysia, it will always be associated with open house and various traditional delicacies. Among all of those traditional delicacies, there’s one in particular that has always been my favourite and a must eat during Eid season which is lemang.
I’ve never been quite a fan of sweet delicacies such as modern or traditional cookies, but I have always been a fan of savoury food. So lemang has always been on the thing that I hunt for during Eid. Lemang is a traditional Malay delicacy made from glutinous rice and cooked in a stick of bamboo in a well watched open fire outdoors and usually eaten with rendang or curries.
The process of making traditional lemang can keep one’s hand full, as it is not easy to make a good lemang. I bought a bamboo of lemang last night, and was given the chance to see how it’s done step by step. I have to say, the whole process of making lemang is very tedious.
Firstly, to make a good lemang, one would need to choose a good bamboo that is dry and not cracked. Then after the bamboo is cut to a length considered reasonable by the cook, a roll of banana leaf would be inserted in the bamboo stick to cover the inside of the bamboo stick. Then, an amount of uncooked glutinous rice will be measured and filled in the bamboo stick along with a cup of diluted coconut milk and salt.
The process of choosing and cleaning the bamboo as well as filling the bamboo with uncooked glutinous rice as well as coconut milk and salt is actually the easy part in the whole process of lemang making. The hard part is actually cooking the lemang to perfection. After filling in the bamboo with necessary ingredients, the lemang will then be sent to a large open fire that is set up earlier by using loads of coals and firewood.
To avoid the lemang from being burnt, one would need to constantly take care of the fire and constantly rotate the lemang so that it will be evenly cooked. The picture below was taken last night, and I hope it will give a picture on how lemang is actually cooked.