Hari Raya Aidilfitri! So far in the kuih series, we’ve talked about sweet treats and desserts. However, there is one savoury dish that cannot be ignored, actually it’s not even a kuih.
Last week we mentioned that three of our seamstresses make kuih to sell during the festive season. This dish is something that they make during Hari Raya as well and, as they emphasized over and over again, only ever during Raya.
Lemang is a coconut rice dish that is flavoured with pandan, banana leaves, and bamboo. If you believe it can be done in a rice cooker, you would be gravely mistaken. Lemang can take up to four hours to make and requires constant attention, which is why many only choose to prepare it during Aidilfitri.
The rice is first infused with pandan (or screwpine leaves) and then cooked by an open fire or hot charcoal in a bamboo stick that is lined with banana leaves. Young bamboo is highly recommended, as it has moisture that cooks and flavours the rice better. The preparation of lemang can be an event as itself, as people often take turns watching the bamboo to make sure they cook evenly and, of course, don’t catch on fire.
This dish can also be prepared without the bamboo and just wrapped in banana leaves and steamed. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, below is the recipe which our artisans have shared with us. However, they also shared an easier way to enjoy the creamy fragrant taste of lemang in a simpler way: omit the bamboo and just steam the leaf-wrapped rice in a steamer.
Lemang is sold in several bazaars during Ramadan
Ingredients:500 grams of glutinous rice
4 cups of coconut milk
1 pandan leaf
1 large stick of bamboo
2-3 banana leaves
Pinch of salt
- Line the inside of the bamboo stick with banana leaves. You only need one, but for first timers the process can be difficult, as the leaves tear easily.
- Wash and drain the glutinous rice.
- Fill the bamboo stick with the glutinous rice.
- Add a pinch of salt and the pandan leaf to the coconut milk and heat the coconut milk until you can smell the fragrance of the pandan. Pour the mixture into the bamboo.
- Roast the whole bamboo next to an open fire or on a grill, turning it every 15 minutes, for 3 hours. Alternatively you can put the bamboo in a large pot with water and let it steam uncovered for 2 hours.
Let us know if you try it out.
Selamat Hari Raya to you all!