Eid al-Fitr; foods and festivities in Southeast Asia

Celebrate Eid al-Fitr with some Southeast Asian delicacies!

Leo David Prajogo
2nd May 2022
Image credit: Piqsels
Eid-al Fitr is the biggest celebration in the Islamic calendar, celebrating the end of Ramadan. It’s also known as Lebaran or Idul Fitri in Indonesia and Hari Raya in Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei. In true Southeast Asian fashion, we celebrate Eid with food. Below are some of, in my experience, the most quintessentially Eid foods in maritime Southeast Asia (some of which will hopefully be lining my breakfast table this year!).
  1. Kue and kukis

You can’t celebrate Eid without kue (cakes) and kukis (cookies) - it just doesn’t work. When you go to a family member’s house on Eid, there will always be that one table lined with plates and tins and boxes of kue and kukis in all shapes and colours. These cakes and cookies are about the size of a small biscuit. There’s the pineapple jam filled nastar, the crumbly cheese and sago sagu keju, and light, meringue-like lidah kucing.

My personal favourites are kastengel, a rich cheese-based biscuit with a satisfying crunch, and putri salju, which translates literally to snow princess, and are soft biscuits coated with powdered sugar which melt in your mouth.

  1. Ketupat and lontong

I associate ketupat as being symbolic of Eid, and for a good reason. I can go a whole year without touching a single ketupat, then have my plate piled with it on Eid. In maritime Southeast Asia when you see a graphic about Eid, there is a 90% chance ketupat will be somewhere in that image.

Ketupat and lontong are both types of rice cake. Raw rice, called beras in Indonesian and Malay, is poured into casings made of leaf, then the whole thing is boiled. The difference is that ketupat is in a distinct woven square made of palm leaves, and lontong is made in cylindrical banana leaf packagings. Both are sticky and taste delicious eaten with various broths.

Ketupat/ Image credit: Wkimedia commons
  1. Opor ayam

A story from my childhood: in Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, the streets are lined with warteg, streetside restaurants serving Javanese food. The one near my house always served opor ayam, and when my father and I went there after Lebaran, the lady at the counter said that they wouldn’t be serving any for a week or two because the cooks had made so much of it for Eid that they were sick of it. That’s how much opor ayam is served at Eid.

Opor ayam/ Instagram (@byviszaj)

Opor ayam is one of my favourite dishes; it’s coconut curry containing mostly chicken (ayam meaning chicken), but as a vegetarian I tend to put in tofu and potatoes as well. It’s deliciously savoury with a distinct edge. Opor gets its slight nutty flavour from roasted candlenut, and its creaminess from coconut milk. If you ever go to maritime Southeast Asia, this is the one food that should be at the top of your list to try!

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