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This or That: Raya Food Edition

Hari Raya, also known as Eid al-Fitr, is a vibrant and colourful festival that is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Malaysia. It is a time when Muslims come together to mark the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. As the sun sets on the final day of Ramadan, the atmosphere in Malaysia becomes electric. Streets are filled with the sound of prayers and the air is heavy with the aroma of delicious food being prepared in anticipation of the feast to come.


On the morning of Hari Raya, the excitement reaches a fever pitch. Muslims gather for prayers at local mosques and in community spaces, wearing their finest traditional clothing. The atmosphere is joyous, with hugs and greetings exchanged between friends and strangers alike. After prayers, the festivities truly begin. Malaysians welcome friends and family into their homes, where they are treated to a lavish spread of traditional dishes, including the beloved rendang. Children receive money in envelopes from elders, and the air is filled with the sound of laughter and chatter.


Festivities spill out onto the streets, with vibrant decorations and colourful lights adorning homes and public spaces. From the shimmering lights to the mouth-watering food, Hari Raya in Malaysia is a celebration that truly engages all the senses. It is a time of joy, togetherness, and reflection, and it reminds Malaysians of the importance of community and unity. However, Hari Raya in Malaysia is not just a celebration of community and togetherness, but also a celebration of food. The traditional dishes served during this festive occasion are an explosion of flavour and colour, reflecting the diversity of Malaysia's multi-ethnic society. 


Sweets and desserts are also an important part of Hari Raya, with popular treats including kuih, colourful bite-sized pastries made from rice flour, coconut milk, and pandan leaves. Dodol, a sticky and chewy candy made from coconut milk and palm sugar, is another favourite among Malaysians during this festive occasion.


However, eating these delicious foods during Hari Raya might have its own disadvantages as these foods, while they can boost your serotonin levels due to the deliciousness, can be a bit unhealthy if you consume them at a high amount. Here, we would like to share with you what you should eat instead to lessen the intake of calories especially during Raya season. Continue reading as these tips might help you to maintain your puasa body! 

Rendang is a slow-cooked meat dish that is bursting with aromatic spices, including turmeric, lemongrass, and ginger. The meat is cooked until it is tender and coated in a thick, creamy sauce made from coconut milk, resulting in a dish that is both rich and fragrant. However, rendang is one of the foods that has a high calorie content due to the amount of oils and coconut milk used in this dish. Eating rendang at an uncontrolled amount during festivities would lead to unwanted weight gain. 


To reduce the amount of calories consumed, you can put a little twist to your rendang! Try to change from coconut milk to low fat milk. Coconut milk is traditionally used in rendang to give it a creamy and rich flavour. However, coconut milk is high in saturated fat and calories, which can be a concern for some people who are trying to watch their fat intake or maintain a healthy diet.


Low-fat milk, on the other hand, have lesser fat and calories than coconut milk, making it a healthier alternative. It may not give the same creamy texture and rich flavour that coconut milk provides, but it can still contribute a pleasant taste and texture to the dish. 


Lemang is a type of sticky rice cake that is cooked inside a bamboo tube over an open fire or charcoal grill. The sticky rice cake is mixed together with coconut milk to enhance the creaminess of the lemang thus contributing to a higher calorie in the dish. If you are in the mission of maintaining your puasa body, it is better if you try to avoid eating lemang and eat ketupat instead. No coconut milk is used in the making of ketupat thus it will significantly lessen the calories. 


Ketupat is a type of rice cake that is traditionally made by weaving together young coconut leaves to form a diamond-shaped container, which is then filled with rice and boiled until the rice is cooked. The process of making ketupat involves first cleaning and soaking the rice, and then packing it tightly into the coconut leaf container. The container is then boiled in water until the rice is fully cooked and the coconut leaves have become compacted around it. Ketupat is often served with spicy peanut sauce or other condiments. 

Let’s face it. Cordial drinks are easy to prepare especially when you are busy with your guests coming for raya right? Just buy some cheap orange cordial flavouring and add some water and ice to serve to the guests. The same goes when we go visiting our relatives, cordial would always be served during raya due to the convenience of this drink. However, cordial drinks are known to have a high amount of sugar content thus drinking this at every stop of raya visiting would make your daily sugar intake extremely high! Thus, to avoid this from happening, make sure to bring along your plain water with you everywhere to avoid this from happening during festivities. If you are craving for some sweet beverage, try to drink fruit juices instead which are packed with vitamins that are good for your body. 


In conclusion, Hari Raya can be a challenging time for those who are trying to maintain a healthy diet. However, with some planning and mindfulness, it's possible to enjoy the festivities without compromising on your health goals. Remember to opt for healthier alternatives when cooking and snacking, keep portion sizes in check, and stay hydrated. And most importantly, enjoy the celebrations and cherish the time spent with loved ones, while also taking care of your well-being. Selamat Berpuasa to Muslims in Malaysia and Selamat Hari Raya in advance to everyone celebrating!


Written by: Alia Adrina Asri

Love Earth Nutritionist

Bachelor of Nutrition Science (Hons)