With Hari Raya Aidilfitri just around the corner, the last few days of Ramadhan are quite hectic for most households, busy with preparations the for festive season.
Hari Raya is the time of the year where families and loved ones gather to seek forgiveness and reconciliation.
In welcoming the big day, it is a tradition to clean and decorate houses, sewing new baju kurung or baju cara melayu, and making biscuits, cakes and meals for the guests.
Ketupat, rendang and satay are some of the popular Raya dishes at every household.
Every family that celebrates Hari Raya prepares special dishes, especially for the first three days of Raya. My mother usually cooks Raya meals for our family.
She would prepare the ingredients the night before and then wake up in the wee hours to cook.
Her signature dish is also our all-time favourite – Lontong Brunei.
It is similar to what they have in Malaysia and Singapore, except my mom’s recipe is created with a touch of Bruneian taste.
The broth is poured over a few pieces of nasi impit and can be enjoyed with serunding daging and sambal.
In the spirit of the festivities, my mum granted permission to share her recipe with the readers.
Preparing Lontong Brunei is easy and you can have it done in under 20 minutes.
First, you need to rinse a small bowl of dried prawns and blend it. You can also use dried anchovies. It is important to remove the bones and rinse them before blending.
You also need to blend some aromatics; one small bowl of dry chilies, six shallots, eight garlic cloves, one big onion, one small size Bombay onion, one inch ginger and a small piece of fresh turmeric. You can also use turmeric powder. Blend the ingredients until smooth.
For the main ingredients, you need dried beancurd skin, broken into pieces and soaked in water, six pieces of fried beancurd, a small cabbage, two carrots, 500 grammes of French beans and four fresh tomatoes – all cut to your preference.
Heat a pot with a cup of cooking oil, put in a teaspoon of salt, cinnamon stick, cardamom, star anise, cloves, three shallots (thinly sliced) and the blended aromatics. Fry until golden brown before adding in sugar, blended dried prawns or anchovies and a small piece of shrimp paste.
Add tamarind juice and seasoning and stir well. Pour one big box of coconut milk into the pot and then add water. The water measurement depends on how thick or light you want the broth to be. My mum usually uses boxed coconut milk as her measurement by filling up the box twice with water to be added into the pot.
Simmer for a while, then add in all the vegetables and let it boil until the vegetables are cooked. Add salt and seasoning to taste before putting out the fire. We usually have all the condiments and my mom’s signature beef rendang added to our bowl of Lontong.
This is one of the main Raya dishes that we will have on the first day, along with other homemade dishes, while our drinks are usually coffee or tea.
After such a delicious meal, we usually have some Raya cakes to satisfy our sweet tooth.