Although, her site was meant to be a private food journal rather than a public one, after a year of existence she decided to share her stories as well as recipes with the rest of the world. I am extremely thankful for her change of mind as this woman is very gifted and has a lot to give.
"From My Lemony Kitchen" is a jewel of a blog, especially for if you are a big fan of Southeast Asian cuisine like me and love the wonderfully spicy dishes which hail from that captivating region of the Far East. For our biggest pleasure, Lisa offers many exhaliratingly fragrant family as well as traditional recipes that a part of her heritage, but she also likes to share her Western- and Oriental-style creations (macarons, tarts, Chinese dumplings, chicken tikka, Hollandaise sauce, Goan curry, etc...) with us. And as if was not enough, her talent does not only limitate itself to cooking or baking; Lisa is a great photographer too.
Thanks for making us discover your rich universe!
When I received an invite from Rosa, we had just started our Eid celebration, which marked the end of the fasting period (a month). Coincidently, during the celebrations, I was in the middle of "experimenting" with this traditional and unique "must-have" dish originating from Malaysia where I grew up and which is known under the name of "Lemang" (pronounce "le – mung").
Thank you, Rosa for inviting me to write and share my knowledge of Malaysian food with your readers.
Reminiscing about my childhood days in the village… As Eid celebration drew nearer, everyone was busy and every shop buzzing with activity. All parents were busy shopping for new curtains, clothes and shoes, something that thrilled and excited us children to the highest point. Some families even went the extra mile and changed their entire furniture or even their car if they could afford such a luxury.
Everyone did "spring cleaning" and spruced up their gardens. Houses and courtyards were decorated with either homemade kerosene lamps or fairy lights. It felt like an Eastern version of Christmas.
Before the beginning of the Eid, kids in the neighbourhood were allowed to play out 'till late into the night and waves of laughter as well as chattering sounds could be heard as they gathered to play with sparklers or small firecrackers. Meanwhile, the adults would get on with the last-minute preparations. It was such a joyous and wonderful moment… We were all anticipating the end of the fasting month of Ramadan with abated breath.
Early in the morning, on the first day of Eid, children were so excited and eager to put on their new clothes and shoes while waiting impatiently for their parents’ permission to leave the house and have fun. Once outside they roamed the neighbourhood, wishing everyone "Happy Eid" and receiving token coins in return.
To me, Eid is the time to forgive and forget as well as to seek for everyone's forgiveness. It also means that it is an opportunity for me to enjoy the abundance of food that is specially prepared for the occasion. One of them, my favourite, being "Lemang".
"Lemang" is a combination of glutinous rice and coconut milk that is pushed into the cavity of a bamboo joint, is lined with banana leaves. The filled bamboos are then placed standing up nearly vertically in a row, and placed over a slow burning wood fire so that the filling cooks or "roasts". It takes a lot of practice and patience to obtain an evenly cooked "Lemang". The whole process usually takes about 3-4 hours.
Once cooked and cooled, the bamboo is split open, thus exposing the creamy cylindrically shaped glutinous rice wrapped in banana leaves. It is then sliced into discs and served with "Beef Rendang".
As I am living far away from my home country and can't get a hold of bamboo links - plus I doubt my city council and neighbours would be too thrill if I lit up a bonfire in my backyard in order to cook "Lemang" -, I had no other choice than to resort to making my own "Lemang" in its simplest form.
The idea was to achieve the same texture as the original dish - soft creamy glutinous rice, that is slightly crusted on the outside and has the aroma of banana leaves which's essence permeated the glutinous rice - without cooking them it the traditional way.
I hope I have managed to tempt you to experience "Lemang"and indulge in it, albeit the fact that no bamboo is used in the preparation of this dish and despite the fact that this version is not so perfectly cylindrical in shape. Nonetheless, it is "Lemang" to me…
~ Lemang or Glutinous Rice Cooked In Bamboo ~
Recipe by Lisa Ho at "From My Lemony Kitchen...".
600ml Glutinous Rice, wash and drain off excess water
1 Can (400ml) Coconut cream
1 Screwpine leaf or pandan leaf, knotted
Salt, to taste
1. Put the coconut cream, water, knotted screwpine leaf and salt into a pot. Bring to a quick boil. Add the glutinous rice. Stir until the glutinous rice has absorbed the coconut cream mixture and no liquid is left. Turn off the heat and put it aside to cool.
2. Wipe clean your banana leaves and lay ithem flat on the work surface, with the lines on the leaf running from left to right.
3. Divide the glutinous rice mixture into 5 parts.
4. Ladle the glutinous rice mixture onto the leaves. Roll them into a cylindrical shape and secure both ends with cooking string, making sure there is no tear in the banana leaves.
5. Bring a large pot of water to the boil, and gently submerge the wrapped lemang into the water. Boil for at least 20-30 minutes (this process will further cook the glutinous rice).
6. Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F).
7. Transfer the lemang into the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes, until the banana leaf wrappers are slightly dried out.
8. Leave them to cool before slicing.
Serve with "Beef Rendang".
It would also make a great accompaniment to my "Fish Rendang".