On the nights leading up to the Puasa of Hari Raya, you can expect heaving crowds at Pasar Malam or night markets, especially after iftar. Once a concoction of bustling festival noises and permeating fragrances of fried goodies is now instead a proving ground for outlandish, gimmicky and perhaps even obscure alternatives to the traditional food options. Rainbow bagel anyone?

This goes beyond the nostalgia for the older days, it is a clear deviation from the culture that we’ve once anchored ourselves with.

Some memories stay akin even after all these years; a hearty meal over at nenek’s or dishes that distinguish one family’s heritage. Skipping the bazaars where traditional cuisines go to die, it is almost inexcusable to not have these dishes for Raya!

Image Credit: Paul Joseph Rio Daza | Flickr

Read More: 10 Best Ramadan Buffets Below RM49 In Malaysia

  1. Serunding

Image Credit: williamnyk | Flickr

The holy grail of meat flosses, Malaysian style. A finger food or simply an innocent indulgence. All we know is once you start, you can hardly stop at these savoury delights.

  1. Satay

Image Credit: Theryn Fleming | Flickr

Meat on a stick, do I need to go on? Slather it in peanut sauce or maybe even some ketupat or rice dumpling at the side to cut through the cloying sweetness, these sticks of meats are a meal on its own!

  1. Rendang

Image Credit: Kyle Lam | Flickr

Rendang of sorts, no matter chicken, beef or mutton, as long as its meat slow cooked in a curry-looking gravy, I’m in. Oh, and so long it is not crispy.

  1. Asam Pedas

asam pedas
Image Credit: boo lee | Flickr

So much more than just a stew of spicy fish, the tartness and flavour profiles are like no other. The exact origin of the dish is unclear, but Asam Pedas is definitely a household dish that tantalizes the dining crowd at every Raya dinner.

  1. Lontong

Image Credit: Herman Saksono | Flickr

Rice cakes paired with specialty ingredients by the nenek, in a bed of coconut-based gravy, if this doesn’t fill the void of traditional Raya food then I don’t know what will.

  1. Lemang

Image Credit: Emran Kassim | Flickr

A common delicacy celebrated by most, but often consumed towards the end of every fasting-day by muslims. Lemang resembles a katupat or nasi impit, with an added layer of flavour by the coconut milk.

  1. Bubur Lambuk

malaysian spiced congee
Image Credit: Bubur Lambuk | Flickr

The Bubur Lambuk‘s humble beginnings has since earned its spot on the dining table of many. Originated from the Muslim tradition of feeding the poor during the holy month of Ramadan, it has since evolved into a dish that is highly versatile; inclusion of any ingredients under the sun to flavour the the plain congee.

  1. Dodol

Image Credit: Karen Marie | Flickr

This toffee-like delicious piece of goo is often shaped like a dumpling.It is strategically sized to avoid the overindulgence of these diabetes-inducing goodies. It takes on the texture of the Chinese rice cake, but instead, every bite that you take is a burst of gula melaka. This seemingly innocuous triangle of goodness also comes in durian, soursop, jackfruit and whatever your imagine can come up with.

  1. Kuih Muih

kuih muih
Image Credit: boo lee | Flickr

Talk about diversity and indiscrimination, the kuih muih of the Malay cuisine is the perfect definition of that, but in the form of aesthetically appeasing edibles. Every bite of each kuih is just as delightful as the next. Sweet. Delectable. Bite-sized. There’s your reason for a post Raya workout.

  1. Otak-Otak

otak otak
Image Credit: Su-Lin | Flickr

The genius who came up with the idea of wrapping spiced up minced fish in banana leaves deserves only the most prestigious culinary award. The seared surface of the leaves giving the fish a charred taste yet never displacing the springy and crumbly mouthfeel, how do you Raya without this dish?

  1. Tepung Pelita

Tepung pelita
Image Credit: boo lee | Flickr

The double of the Lemang, the Tepung Pelita is the masterful concoction of coconut milk, sugar, and the impeccable pandan flavour. Coconut seems to be the recurring theme in this list of must-eat dishes for Raya, but how do you turn down these dainty green packages with a smooth-like top consistency.

  1. Mee Rebus

mee rebus
Image Credit: Myna Bird | Flickr

Savoury with a hint of sweetness, Mee Rebus is one staple that signifies the Malay cuisine. There’s no one perfect way to eat this – let the gravy slide and fill your mouth with the punch of spice at the end of every bite.

  1. Tahu Goreng

tahu goreng
Image Credit: Kai Hendry | Flickr

What is a festival bite if it doesn’t incur self-doubt, that the wholesome plate of tofu covered in peanut and spicy sauce is absolutely non-detrimental to one’s health. No, but really, talk about traditional Ramadan cuisine, this is it!

  1.  Soto Ayam

soto ayam
Image Credit: Stijn Nieuwendijk | Flickr

Chicken soup for the soul, literally.

  1. Nasi Padang

nasi padang
Image Credit: Kai Hendry | Flickr

All-culture mixed rice, you can’t go wrong with that. Home-cooked recipes that differ from house to house, nothing beats a dish that is unique to every family especially during this Raya!

  1. Ikan Bakar

ikan bakar
Image Credit: Li Tsin Soon | Flickr

Not to be mistaken with the Otak-Otak, the simplicity of this BBQed dish of fish with chilli sauce holds no justice to how complex it tastes. Though not often prepared at the convenience of one’s home, it would definitely be a good switch-up from the usuals this Raya!

  1. Apam Balik

Apam Balik
Image Credit: Yun Huang Yong

This is as gimmicky as this list gets, that is if you skip the nutella and all that modern twists to this dish. Typically eaten with crushed peanuts as the primary feeling, this is yet another traditional Raya food item that managed the test of time.

  1. Ayam Penyet

ayam penyet
Image Credit: huixuan | Flickr

Though not indigenous to Malaysia, this rendition of fried and smashed chicken has definitely paved its way into the rite of Malay cuisines.

  1. Roti John

roti john
Image Credit: Su-Lin | Flickr

Come Hari Raya, during your jalan jalans in the pasar malams you’ll no doubt run into sizzling griddles cooking up one of these sinfully toped slices of bread.

  1. Ramly Burger

ramly burger
Image Credit: Kyle Lam | Flickr

This one needs no explanation, jalan jalan is not jalan jalan without a sloppy Ramly burger in one hand.

Food To Celebrate Hari Raya

At the end of the day, it is about the unity of the family, staying true to oneself and all that jazz. Food is merely the medium to bring everyone together.

Raya food is so widespread that it’s even on food delivery services like Foodpanda! Keep a lookout for Foodpanda vouchers to get a discount for your order.

*First Published 31 May 2018, Last Updated 16 May 2019