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Showing posts from August, 2010

Embracing the last 10 days of Ramadan

The countdown to Eid ul-Fitr , the first day of Shawwal which marks the end of Ramadan , starts here. But Muslims must go through the last 10 days of Ramadan before the rejoicing begins. The final 10 days of Ramadan, Islam's holiest month, are finally here. Muslims believe that the Night of Power or Lailatul Qadr  (also spelled Laylat al-Qadr ) falls within this period. They hold that the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet (PBUH) by God through the Angel Gabriel on the Night of Power. Nobody knows when the Night of Power -- which the Quran describes as being "better than a thousand months" -- takes place and Muslims are encouraged to seek it out during the last 10 days of Ramadan by taking part in late-night prayers, Dhikr and spiritual contemplation. According to many accounts, the Night of Power is probably "on one of the odd nights on the last 10 days of Ramadan and most likely to be on the 27th". "It could happen on th

The lure of Ramadan bazaars

A Ramadan bazaar in Wangsa Maju, Selangor. If you throw a stone in Malaysia during the month of Ramadan, you are likely to hit a bazaar. Bazaars offering a wide variety of food had sprouted up all over the country since Ramadan began on August 11. Lists of the top bazaars to go to have been drawn up. The more known and established bazaars attract enthusiasts from everywhere. Plans are made early in the day as to which bazaar they should visit. Malaysians enjoy their Ramadan bazaars just as they love their pasar malam (night markets). The tired soul derives great pleasure from soaking up the sight, sound and smell of stalls laden with delicious food. Food shopping at the bazaars is enjoyable but do it wisely. And there is something for everybody at the Ramadan bazaars. The appearance of dishes (such as bubur lambuk or savoury rice porridge) peculiar to the fasting month and normally not seen Malay cakes especially traditional ones (such as tepung pelita and pisang si

A healthy Ramadan

Dates, dried kiwi fruit and apricots as well as pistachio nuts could make up the meal that breaks the day's fast. Dates "provide a refreshing burst of much-needed energy," notes Ramadan health guide. Serendipitous. That is the word I would use to describe a discovery in my mailbox last week. A friend had emailed me a file on Ramadan health guide, compiled by Communities in Action . It was exactly the thing that I had been looking for. About a month before Ramadan, which began on August 11, I had been searching for materials on staying healthy during the fasting month. Then came Ramadan Health Guide, which hopes to create awareness of the health matters connected with  fasting. What concerns many Muslims is staying healthy during Ramadan, a point noted by the Ramadan health guide. The booklet guides readers through physiological changes that occur during fasting, offers examples of beneficial and harmful foods, examines potential medical problems and remedies

Ramadan fine dining

Guest blogger Jehan Mohd had her first taste of Malay fine dining at a berbuka puasa (breaking of the fast at sunset) event hosted by Commercial Radio Malaysia. Ibunda , the venue for the evening, offers a delicious mix of traditional Malay cooking dressed up in the trappings of the gastronomic equivalent of haute couture. Here are her thoughts on her experience. Our starter served in four bowls -- there was (from the left) lemang (glutinous rice soaked in coconut milk and cooked in bamboo over a slow fire) and rendang (stewed beef in coconut milk), rojak mamak  (Indian Muslim style salad with peanut sauce), some really nice fish in unidentified yummy sauce and bubur lambuk (savoury rice porridge).The rendang had a strange aftertaste but the fish and bubur were lovely! Also in the picture are my first air sirap bandung (a concoction of rose syrup water and evaporated milk) for the year, a vintage glass bottle of ice-cream soda (!) and dates dished up in a boat-like porcelein pla

Breaking the fast with orphans

Some 300 orphans from five welfare homes and orphanages in the Klang Valley ( pictures ) were treated to berbuka puasa (the meal which breaks the day's fast, also known as iftar in some cultures) at Nikko Hotel, Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Members of the media were also invited to the event, which was organised by Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Malaysia's biggest fund management company. It is a yearly occurrence. The special guests received duit raya (the customary cash gift for Eid ul-Fitr , the first day of Shawal that marks the end of Ramadan ), dates and cookies for Eid ul-Fitr. PNB is among many corporations in Malaysia that organise berbuka puasa for the underprivileged sections of the community in Malaysia. While I laud the move by these corporations, I could not help but wonder why hotels are chosen as the venues for these social functions? What is wrong with community halls, mosques or school halls? Other members of the community -- rich, poor, th

Ramadan reminder

Muslims will do without food and drink from dawn to dusk during Ramadan , but after a day of fasting, they will want something refreshing to quench their thirst and good to eat. When people have been starving all day long, they expect cooling drinks and tasty food at the breaking of fast which takes place just after sunset. Watermelon juice is a popular thirst quencher for breaking fast. A long menu of Malaysian delicacies such as bubur lambuk (savoury porridge especially prepared for Ramadan), mee rebus (noodles with thick gravy), the various types of soups, piping hot rice eaten with ikan bakar (grilled fish), sambal tempoyak (fermented durian condiment) and ulam (local raw greens) are usually hot items on the buka puasa  (which means breaking of fast in Malay or iftar in some cultures) table while the best-liked thirst quenchers include cold sirap bandung (a concoction of syrup water and evaporated milk), coconut water and watermelon juice. Mosques and suraus  (pl

The warmth of friendship

Old friends. They are individuals you know well and like. They could be one of your best, close or childhood friends. What do they mean to you? I am asking you this question because I had just spent the whole day with an old friend from Singapore. Let us call her Pat. Pat was one of my colleagues at the Singapore Monitor (now defunct) in the early 1980s. We were junior journalists at the newspaper organisation back then. We were part of a circle of journalists in Singapore; shared ideas and experiences saw some of us forging bonds of friendship between each other. When the newspaper folded in the late Eighties, Pat and I went our separate ways. I returned to Malaysia and resumed my career as a journalist at the newspaper organisation I was attached to before I left to go to Singapore. Pat fell in love with an English man, got married and relocated to the United Kingdom. She came back to Singapore when her husband passed away several years ago. Initially, we kept in