Hari Raya is a celebration meant to be spent with family and friends – do not waste valuable time (or food) in the kitchen!
The festive season is here and everyone is excited about finally being able to get together again. We leave behind the hectic city life that we are all accustomed to for a while because Raya is the time for us to be with family and loved ones. Well, even if you cannot make it home for Hari Raya like this guy, you will find your own way to celebrate.
The most fun part of Hari Raya is actually the few days leading to the actual celebration when everyone in the family gathers to make the necessary preparations – the house has to be spotless, new curtains have to go up and the Raya spread must be ready just in time for the morning after Hari Raya.
The kitchen remains the family’s favourite space to hang out especially amidst all the chaos of preparing the food while bantering with the rest of the clan. That is why it is important to plan ahead and have everything in order to mitigate tension or stress – you wouldn’t want a Hell’s Kitchen situation on your hands.
Here are five kitchen hacks that will keep everything smooth and stress-free this Hari Raya, besides helping you and your family minimize food wastage as well:
#1 Create a detailed grocery shopping list
A grocery shopping list is a very first step in planning ahead for food prep this Hari Raya. It will save you the trouble of going back and forth to the store because you did not get enough of what is needed. Also, early planning will help you gauge the exact volume of food required, thus curbing the urge to buy more than you need “just in case”.
The Hari Raya grocery shopping list is different than our normal weekly list as it will definitely be much longer. Be specific and thorough to make sure that you get exactly what you need and always stick to it. Some extras are fine just to be on the safe side but do not go overboard as you would want to avoid food wastage.
Here’s how you can create an organized Hari Raya grocery shopping list:
- Categorize items on the list according to different sections of the grocery store that they belong to, for instance: Vegetable, Spices, Dairy, Frozen Food, among others.
- If you are referring to recipes, print out a copy and add the ingredients to the different grocery store sections groups that you created earlier.
- Combine all the similar ingredients. If coconut milk is needed for three different dishes, how much of it is needed altogether?
- Check the pantry for what you already have so that you will only buy what you need. Remember nothing should go to waste.
#2 Learn to juggle
The spirit of togetherness is made even sweeter with the abundant delicious traditional food and Raya cookies that are mostly hard to find on a regular day. Preparing numerous dishes means hours spent in the kitchen, but there is a way for you to get all your cooking sorted out at the same time. Juggling a few dishes at once will cut short the amount of time spent in the kitchen. It is almost like an art that needs to be mastered but no worries, it is not exactly too difficult to learn!
- Use different cooking methods. While the rendang simmers on the stove, make sure the slow cooker and oven are both being utilised for other dishes, such as a mutton stew or grilled fish. Even the rice cooker can be used for a different purpose other than cooking rice – think steamed cakes, paus and steamed vegetables.
- Work backwards. Prepare dishes that take a longer time to cook first. If you calculate the timing properly, everything will be ready at the same time.
- Even if you do not need to follow any recipe, write down a timeline of what needs to be done first and second until the last step.
#3 Early prep of ingredients
Chop, peel, squeeze and slice everything that is needed before you start cooking. In fact, some of the preparation processes can be done way ahead. Pre-wash all the veggies and store them in plastic containers to make it easy to grab and go for various dishes. Same goes for all the meat and fish. Cut them into desirable sizes and trim off the fats a few days or a week before and just stash them in the freezer!
#4 Clean as you go
Get someone to be in charge of the dishes. Immediately soak them in soapy water especially the pots and pans that are very oily after each use. Keep a wet rag on hand for quick clean-up of spills and a trashcan lined with plastic bag should be placed near the preparation area. By the time everything is done, there will not be too much of messes to clean up and your dishes are not piled up in the kitchen sink.
#5 Use proper containers
Once everything is ready you will need to put all the prepared dishes in proper containers to ensure that it will stay fresh. Allocate a section where you can place all the containers along with the Raya cookie jars. Raya cookies mostly come in a stackable container that does not take up too much of space. If you are preparing the food way ahead of the celebration, store them in the refrigerator so that none of it will go bad before the first day of Hari Raya.
Looks like you are all set for Hari Raya this year with all the delightful lemang, ketupat and rendang to savour. In the spirit of Ramadan, let’s all endeavour to practise moderation and avoid excessive consumption – you wouldn’t want to take more than you are able to consume or eat your way into a food coma!
Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Maaf Zahir Batin from all of us at iProperty.
Written by Hannef Esquander | Edited by Reena Kaur Bhatt