Hari Raya Haji is a national holiday in Malaysia. This holiday is also known as Aidil Adha and is celebrated in October. It is a celebration for Muslims around the world. The celebration last 4 days and is held to honor the fact that Abraham offered his son Ishmael up to the Lord as instructed. Of course, this was a test of obedience to God's word and when the Lord saw that Abraham was so willing, he did not make Abraham sacrifice his son. This day also marks the end of the fast month, where the people abstain from alcohol, smoking and sexual relations.
The Feast Essentials
This is a time for feasting and happiness. A lot of the food is prepared with coconut milk and curry, which are staples in Middle Eastern and Asian cooking. Hari Raya recipes include dishes like vegetable broth simmered in curry and coconut milk, curry chicken (also with the coconut milk), beef dishes cooked in coconut milk and various herbs.
Ketupat is always served at these meals. Ketupat is a rice dish that is served wrapped in leaves and then steamed. The dish is then served with peanut sauce and other different sauces. There are a lot of Hari Raya recipes for cakes and cookies, these are almost always served. Women will start preparing the food up to a week in advance to be ready for the festivals.
Popular Hari Raya Recipes
Ayam Masak Merah is a great recipe. This dish is chicken simmered in tomato sauce. It is somewhat similar to chicken curry, with turmeric and salt added for taste. Coconut milk and chilies are added to give it the best flavor.
Biskut Kacang, also known as peanut cookies are easy to make and very delicious. They take on the shape of a biscuit more than a cookie though. Unlike American peanut butter cookies, the Hari Raya recipe is made with whole peanuts and sunflower oil that is added to flour, egg and sugar. They take a little more prep work, but the end result is worth it.
Biskut Arab is another Hari Raya recipe that is often made. The end result is very sweet and the cookies look similar to colored puff balls. Food coloring is used with the dough to make it look more festive.
Beef and chicken rendang is an interesting dish. This most desirable of Hari Raya recipes is made with Rendang / Kuah Kacang, beef brisket and a whole chicken if desired. It has a green color to it, but do not be fooled, it's very good. The meat simmers for 3 hours to take on all the good flavors. Grated coconut, fennel seeds, cumin seeds and coriander seeds are added to the recipe. The seeds are dry roasted to get all the flavor out. There are a lot of other spices included in this dish and the price adds up quick.
Soups are a staple of Hari Raya recipes during the feast. Beef soup is usually made. Coconut soup is also popular.