Special Feature

Keep Calm and Raya On

by Honey Ahmad Photography FriedChillies on Mon, June 19, 2017

We’ve come up with some nifty tricks and great recipes to get you through the Raya period, be the host with mostest or just face the festive chaos with less stress.

Keep the open house tradition strong!

Here are some possible challenges during Raya. 1/ Moving into a new home and wanting to throw an open house but not exactly sure where to start. 2/ Having to cook for family or in laws who are all excellent cooks. 3/ Your traditional food repertoire is shallow but you do cook a mean roast chicken (that’s not very Raya is it?) 4/Running out of food during an open house (this is a real fear!) 5/ Prices have gone up for everything! Even lemongrass and yet Raya is not a time for skimping. It is in our culture to want our guests to leave our house satisfied and sated.

Polish up your rendang mojo!

Well. Keep Calm and Raya on we say. We’ve come up with some nifty tricks and great recipes to get you through the Raya period, be the host with mostest or just face the festive chaos with less stress.

Here’s to a serene and sublime Raya (because let’s face it the whole world’s gone bonkers anyway).

The Lost Art of Open Houses

Is it just us or open houses are not that much fun these days? Perhaps as kids you have duit Raya to look forward to hence are able to endure being hugged and prodded by various powdered Aunties. Yes people still visit but as the generation before get older, the younger are not quite stepping it up to fill in the entertaining void. People are getting more into their own silos prefering to live their best lives and focus their entertaining energy in social media.

No matter how big or small, open houses should be here to stay

We feel you. For those who are in their own homes and not just going back to your family's, how about having one this year? Here are some ideas.

Find a signature dish

I remember when my social calendar was fat with open houses that my Aunts and Grandaunts all had a signature dish. They had the mandatory kuih raya, ketupat/lemang/rendang/kuah kacang of course but they also had a killer dish that everyone looks forward to. One makes mee rebus, another laksam and yet another makes this super delicious daging hitam that makes my mouth water every time I think of it.

The laksa Johor gravy can be made a day or two in advance, tastes better too

Find your killer dish. It can be a Laksa Johor or a Sambal Udang. Heck it can be Mac and Cheese. This makes your guests anticipate something at your house that they can’t get anywhere else.

Mac and cheese are great for kids too!

Cook one dish and Do It Well

In relation to the point above, there is no shame in ordering your main food from somewhere else. Eateries like Mak Jah makes rendang and dendeng to order. But cook one dish. It can be a delicious chicken rendang.

This Auntie is a spice mixologist. You can also get ready peeled shallots at her shop- so convenient!

Here’s how I cheat. I get spices and aromatics all mixed up from that spice Auntie in Taman Tun market and cook it with Uncle Rani’s organic chicken. I make sure to use fresh santan, really good kerisik and shred all the leaves by hand. It’s a little bit of effort but that’s the dish that makes me feel like a real host because people are eating my home-cooking.


And the roast chicken that you make so well? Why not? People will welcome something non-rendang after a few days of gorging on that. Try a Lamb Tagine and some of these non-traditional dishes that still say celebration!

Still need those traditional recipes? We got you covered!

Have a Plan B for Food

A rendang udang is super quick to whip up

If food running out is your fear then here are some tips to mitigate that. Whip up a quick Mi Bandung or a speedy Rendang Udang. Also...

- have extra rendang in your freezer. It’s easy to heat them up on the stove when you start seeing things running low. Having one or two kilos of rendang in the freezer enables you to relax about food and also minimise waste.
- make extra food but have takeout boxes ready. We want to feast but also not to waste food. Give your guests options to take away something they like or unable to eat at your open house because they are too full.
- stock up on snacks, bread (when the ketupat or lemang runs out), rice and meehoon that you can fry up on the fly if need.

Sharing is Caring

Like any good party, allocate a budget and keep to it. We are living in a sharing economy. Do a joint open house with another friend or your siblings so you can share the cost. But also check out our nifty tips to have an excellent but pocket-friendly Raya.

Have something for the Kids

We probably experience it less in the city nowadays but remember village kids puttering over to your house to beraya and stuff themselves with kuih and fizzy drinks? My mum used to make party packs for them that have snacks, duit Raya, pen and paper and even a packet of Black Cat sparklers. For some they just want to wish you a good Raya, grab a green packet and visit the next house. So we give them an option to get a party pack with good wishes or come in for a makan. This can be fun for the kids in your family and friend circle too.


Try out our Kek Batik and a Stir-fried Pasta for something kid-friendly.

So whatever your challenges this Raya, we hope we’ve given you some great ideas and cool recipes for happiness during the festive season. Plus all these tips and recipes work too when you want to have a ‘makan’ party any time of the year. Go on! Keep the open house tradition strong folks.

Selamat Hari Raya from all of us. #keepcalmandrayaon

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