A taste of Kelantan: Top Raya dishes for the perfect Aidilfitri celebration

10 Apr 2024 08:00pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - CANVA
Image for illustrative purposes only. - CANVA

SHAH ALAM – Ramadan's over, folks, and it's time to celebrate the biggest party of the year for Muslims - Hari Raya Aidilfitri!

You know what that means in Malaysia - open houses galore!

We're talking catching up with family, friends, and neighbours, swapping Raya greetings and of course, stuffing ourselves with amazing food.

Speaking of food, we are taking you on a delicious adventure to Kelantan this Raya, known for its vibrant flavours and interesting use of spices.

Get ready for some serious feasting because in Kelantanese kitchens, we are talking about a treasure trove of traditional dishes, each one packed with flavour and reflecting the unique way of cooking.

Let’s explore the state’s delicacy!

Nasi Kerabu

Kelantan folks love their rice, especially in the morning! They dig into a big breakfast of rice dishes to keep them fuelled all day and it's the same for Hari Raya!

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Since nasi kerabu is a Kelantanese classic, it's no surprise it ends up on the table. While people usually buy traditional dishes for the holiday, but for Hari Raya, many Kelantanese families get hands-on and make their own Nasi Kerabu.

The dish is renowned for its striking blue colour derived from the petals of Clitoria Ternatea or butterfly pea flowers.

This vibrant rice is served alongside a variety of accompaniments including dried fish or fried chicken, crackers, pickles, and an array of salads, making for a visually appealing and diverse meal.

The key ingredients of Nasi Kerabu include fragrant rice infused with blue butterfly pea flower petals, alongside lemongrass, turmeric, ginger, shredded coconut, toasted coconut flakes, and an assortment of herbs like torch ginger, daun kesum, cekur leaves and daun kudu.

This flavour profile is further enhanced by side dishes like fried chicken, fish or shrimp crackers, pickled vegetables and a zesty salad featuring herbs, shredded vegetables, and chili paste. A generous dollop of sambal, a spicy chili sauce, adds an extra kick to the ensemble, elevating the overall taste experience.

To complete the dish, a crunchy and flavourful garnish of fried grated coconut, made with coconut flesh, shallots, ginger, palm sugar, and salt, is added, providing the perfect finishing touch to this delicious Malaysian delight.

Bihun/Mee/Kueyteow Sup

Noodle soups like Bihun Sup, Mee Sup, and Kuey Teow Sup are staples of Malaysian cuisine, often featuring clear broths, vegetables, and sometimes chicken or beef.

These comforting dishes are beloved across the country, providing a warm and flavourful meal suitable for any time of day. Malaysians, especially those from Kelantan, appreciate these soups for their hearty and nourishing qualities.

These noodle soups are cherished comfort foods throughout Malaysia, offering a diverse range of flavours and ingredients to suit various preferences.

Laksa & Laksam Kelantan

While many may know Laksa Penang, Johor and Sarawak, have you ever heard of Laksa Kelantan?

Laksa Kelantan is a taste explosion from Malaysia's East Coast, especially Kelantan and Terengganu. It's all about the fish! They steam it first, then whip it into a paste for a gravy that's naturally sweet and oh-so-fishy. The gravy, with a natural sweetness coming from the fish, is made creamy by adding in coconut milk.

The dish is traditionally served with rolled up flat rice noodles drenched in the rich and relatively thick white gravy, topped with a variety of ulam (a mixture of fresh herbs and salad eaten raw) and finished with a huge dollop of sambal and a squeeze of lime!

Some of the choices of fish used to make the gravy include ikan kembung (Indian mackerel), ikan selar (yellowtail scad), ikan selayang or ikan tamban. Minimal spices are added to the gravy to enhance its aroma and tanginess.

The beauty of Laksa Kelantan? It's surprisingly easy to make at home! Plus, you can totally personalise it to your taste. Like it thicker? Go easy on the coconut milk. Want it extra spicy? Load up on the sambal! Feeling like a fresh kick? Add your favourite ulam for a flavour party in your bowl. If you love fish and flavourful broths, Laksa Kelantan is a must-add to your foodie bucket list!

Laksam Kelantan

Laksam Kelantan, a traditional Malaysian dish originating from the Kelantan state, offers a unique twist on the classic laksa. Featuring flat rice noodles bathed in a rich and creamy fish-based gravy, this dish is a local favourite known for its distinct flavour profile.

The gravy, a key component of Laksam Kelantan, is crafted by blending fish, coconut milk, shallots, garlic, ginger, and shrimp paste to create a flavourful and velvety sauce. Garnished with fresh herbs, vegetables, and sambal, this dish offers layers of texture and taste, making it a comforting and satisfying meal cherished in Kelantan and neighbouring regions.

Compared to traditional laksa, Laksam Kelantan stands out with its creamy white gravy made from mackerel, coconut milk, tamarind, lemongrass and other fragrant ingredients. The taste is characterised by the richness of the fish-based gravy, complemented by the subtle sweetness of coconut milk and the tanginess of tamarind.

Laksa and Laksam Kelantan is a true crowd-pleaser, especially during Hari Raya celebrations in Kelantan.

People of all ages love it, and it's a guaranteed hit served to guests. In fact, many Kelantanese families even order large batches to ensure there's enough for everyone!

Ketupat Pulut

Ketupat Pulut is a Malaysian must-try! It's basically rice steamed in little woven pouches made from coconut leaves. It is also known for its diverse variations such as Ketupar Tawar, Ketupat Manis, Ketupat Pulut Hitam, and Ketupat Jagung.

It comes in a bunch of flavours, however the most two popular in Kelantan are Ketupat Tawar and Ketupat Manis, so let's explore the most popular one here:

Ketupat Tawar

Ketupat tawar is the classic, plain version of ketupat, made with white sticky rice and wrapped in square shapes using coconut palm leaves. It serves as a staple accompaniment to various dishes, offering a simple and traditional flavour profile.

For those seeking an extra kick, pairing fresh ketupat tawar with ‘gula melaka’ sauce enhances its subtle taste, making it a delightful treat.

Ketupat Manis

Ketupat manis is a sweet variation of ketupat, often enjoyed as a standalone dessert or snack. This one's for those with a sweet craving. Think yummy sticky rice wrapped in a cool coconut leaf pouch! You can even add toppings like fried coconut shavings (serunding) and brown sugar for an extra flavour explosion.

In Kelantan, Ketupat Pulut is pretty much a Hari Raya staple, alongside all the yummy Kuih Raya. They love it way more than regular ketupat nasi! In fact, families often get together two days before Raya to make a big batch. Fun fact: Kelantanese people like their ketupat Pulut a little crispy, so they might even fry it until it's slightly golden brown.

Just a heads up – if you're ever invited to a Kelantanese home during Hari Raya, be prepared! Their Ketupat Pulut is so good, you might fill up before you get to try all the other delicious food.

Roti Jala

Roti Jala, also known as Malaysian Net Crepes, is a traditional Malaysian dish that translates that got its name due to its lacy or net-like appearance. It is a delicate and tender crepe made from a simple batter consisting of ingredients like all-purpose flour, ground turmeric, salt, egg, and a mixture of coconut milk and water.

The batter is poured into a special cup with multiple nozzles or a squeeze bottle, then drizzled in a circular motion onto a hot pan to create a beautiful lace-like pattern. The lacy net crepes are light and fluffy, with a subtle coconut flavour from the coconut milk used in the batter.

The addition of turmeric powder gives Roti Jala a mild earthy undertone and a beautiful golden yellow colour. When well-made, Roti Jala should be tender and delicate, never brown or crispy. Roti Jala is often served with savoury dishes like chicken curry, beef rendang, or spicy beef floss, making it a popular choice during festive occasions and social gatherings in Malaysia.

Overall, Roti Jala provides a light and flavourful complement to hearty and spicy dishes, creating a harmonious balance of taste and texture on the plate and perfect to be eat during Raya celebrations.

Craving an unforgettable Hari Raya experience? Look no further than Kelantan! Their food scene is incredible, bursting with vibrant flavours and dishes packed with history. It's like taking a bite-sized journey through tradition!

Digging into Kelantan's Raya fare is about celebrating family, community, and being together. So, gather your loved ones, savour every delicious moment, and immerse yourselves in the rich culinary heritage of Kelantan! Just be careful not to stuff yourself silly before you try everything else!

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