The month of Ramadan can be a testing period. With fasting from dawn to dusk, it’s a time of sacrifice, says Farah, our local guide in Kuala Lumpur. “You feel what hunger is like, what thirst is like. It’s reminding you that there are lots of people around the world who are hungry, who have no food to eat, and that this is how they feel.”
There isn’t much sleep to be had, either, she says, as you have to get up early for sahur, the last meal before you start fasting for the day. Depending on when Ramadan falls in a year (it follows the lunar cycle rather than the solar calendar), imsyak (the starting of the fast) can be as early as 6am — which means you have to wake up as early as 3am to 4am to prep breakfast for the family so you can all eat and drink before the fast begins.
To keep you going for the day, you need something filling and hearty. Farah recommends bubur lambuk — a rice porridge dish, or congee, cooked with assorted spices. Here’s her personal recipe that she makes at home.
- 2 cups white rice, washed and drained
- 1/2 coconut to extract concentrated coconut milk (equivalent to 100 ml of concentrated coconut milk)
- 1/2 kg beef cut into small bite-sized pieces
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 3 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 cup dried shrimps, finely blended
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 Bombay onions (large onions), finely chopped
- 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, cut into small cubes (optional)
- 1/2 cup dates, seeded and cut into small pieces (optional)
Spice A (to be sauteed together and put aside)
- 1 piece cinnamon stick
- 3 star anise
- 1 clove
- 2 cardamon
- 1 tsp fenugreek
- 2 candle nuts (pounded)
Spice B (to be mixed)
- 1 tsp fennel or cumin
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp white peppercorns
- 1 cup pre-fried shallots (shred the raw shallots, then fry until golden brown and crispy)
- 2 stalks spring onions, chopped coarsely
- a few sprigs of cilantro , chopped coarsely
1. Heat up the cooking oil and ghee.
2. Add both Spices A and B, as well as the ginger, garlic, and onion. Fry together until fragrant.
3. Add the dried shrimps. Fry until fragrant and the oil rises above the ingredients.
4. Add the beef and mix well.
5. Remove from heat.
6. In a cooking pot, add the rice and dates, followed by the rest of the ingredients. Pour some water into the rice mixture (the water level should reach about 3 inches above the ingredients).
7. Simmer until the beef softens up and the rice breaks up.
8. Add in carrots.
9. If there doesn’t seem to be enough water, add more and simmer until the rice is completely cooked.
10. Add the concentrated coconut milk, mix well. Bring it to a quick boil, then immediately remove from heat. Be careful, do not over-boil the coconut milk!
11. Garnish with the shallots, spring onions, and cilantro. Serve hot.
Have a blessed Ramadan!
This seasonal Kuala Lumpur walking tour begins with a special tasting of local Malay cuisine. Although it is Ramadan, you won’t have to wait until sunset to enjoy a feast of Malay delicacies including nasi kerabu (a vegetarian rice dish), curries and delicious desserts like bubur pisang (sweet banana pudding).