Here’s wishing all Muslim and non- Muslim readers of Over A Cuppa Tea Eid Mubarak and happy holidays. Eid, or better known by locals in Malaysia as Aidilfitri, is celebrated after a whole month of fasting during Ramadan. Eid signify the celebration and triumph of good over evil after one whole month of fasting and doing good deeds. During Eid, people too would seek forgiveness from one another and turn a new leaf in their lives.

Malaysia, being a country that practices Islam as it’s national religion usually celebrate Eid merrily with joy and laughter. And if one talk about Eid in Malaysia, it will always be associated with open house and various traditional delicacies. Among all of those traditional delicacies, there’s one in particular that has always been my favourite and a must eat during Eid season which is lemang.

I’ve never been quite a fan of sweet delicacies such as modern or traditional cookies, but I have always been a fan of savoury food. So lemang has always been on the thing that I hunt for during Eid. Lemang is a traditional Malay delicacy made from glutinous rice and cooked in a stick of bamboo in a well watched open fire outdoors and usually eaten with rendang or curries.

The process of making traditional lemang can keep one’s hand full, as it is not easy to make a good lemang. I bought a bamboo of lemang last night, and was given the chance to see how it’s done step by step. I have to say, the whole process of making lemang is very tedious.

Firstly, to make a good lemang, one would need to choose a good bamboo that is dry and not cracked. Then after the bamboo is cut to a length considered reasonable by the cook, a roll of banana leaf would be inserted in the bamboo stick to cover the inside of the bamboo stick. Then, an amount of uncooked glutinous rice will be measured and filled in the bamboo stick along with a cup of diluted coconut milk and salt.

The process of choosing and cleaning the bamboo as well as filling the bamboo with uncooked glutinous rice as well as coconut milk and salt is actually the easy part in the whole process of lemang making. The hard part is actually cooking the lemang to perfection. After filling in the bamboo with necessary ingredients, the lemang will then be sent to a large open fire that is set up earlier by using loads of coals and firewood.

To avoid the lemang from being burnt, one would need to constantly take care of the fire and constantly rotate the lemang so that it will be evenly cooked. The picture below was taken last night, and I hope it will give a picture on how lemang is actually cooked.

Lemang, placed at the huge open fire to be cooked to perfection

Lemang, placed at the huge open fire to be cooked to perfection

To evenly cook the lemang, one would need to watch over it and constantly rotate the bamboo.

To evenly cook the lemang, one would need to watch over it and constantly rotate the bamboo.

It takes a lot of heat endurance to get the lemang cooked.

It takes a lot of heat endurance to get the lemang cooked.

Rendang, a kind of thick curry meant to be eaten with lemang is being cooked.

Rendang, a kind of thick curry meant to be eaten with lemang is being cooked.

When I went to buy the lemang, even the people who are cooking and selling the lemang was in a jovial mood, and they did not even seems to mind me snapping their pictures. The lady who was cooking the rendang even told me the tale on how lemang actually originates.
She told me that once, there was a wise traveller who constantly needs to spend the night in the woods. Fearing that his precious rice would be stolen by wild animal, he cut down some bamboo and store the rice in the bamboo stick so that it won’t be destroyed or stolen by any hungry wild animals. As time goes by, he got tired of taking out the grains that he kept in the bamboo to cook it inside the pot that he brought along with him in his travel. Out of laziness and mere convenience, he then started to pour water into the bamboo that kept his rice and cook it over his nightly campfire. The traveller then learn that the rice that’s cooked in the bamboo also last longer.
It is also convenient for him to store cooked rice to eat along the way in his journey. So, the man continue to practice cooking rice this way and teaches the people he met on how to cook rice in a bamboo stick, and slowly, the people whom he taught how to cook rice by using bamboo as a cooking utensil started to improvise his recipe and replace normal rice grain with glutinuos rice to make a savoury delicacy. Since the whole process of cooking by using bamboo is quite tedious and not so convenient for non-travellers, they decided to cook it only during special occasion, and so, ladies and gentleman, that is how lemang originates.
To me, the whole process of preparing and cooking lemang is not just to make a special delicacy to be eaten once a year during Eid or any other occasion, but it’s actually to strenghten ties with one another as the whole lemang-making process encourage friends and families to help each other in various tedious task in order to sucessfully cook lemang to perfection. Lemang, is actually a hard labour of love.
Cleffairy: Selamat hari raya maaf zahir batin to all Muslim readers, and happy holidays to all.


  1. fergie says:

    Wah your knowledge amazes me, Cleff! Long time I not eat lemang .. now you make my mouth water. Hope you enjoyed your hols. Last evening I managed to get some Free RPK Ts 🙂 It’s a wonder they have a collection point in Penang LOL

  2. KevinP says:


    whoa u guys still kap kap during hols? LOL! Lemang… miss them.. but these few days too much food… maybe will go for lemang sometime next week.. :).

    Fergie… this Raya we chill out on politics.. but I need to get my hands on those cool FREE RPK Ts!

  3. amoker says:

    I had one of the better lemang at the Taman Tun Dr Ismail lemang strip this raya. The ‘strip’ will appear every Ramadan/ Shawal and some of them are not bad.

    If only different races would respect each other’s diversity as much as we respect the ethnic’ culinary delights , malaysia would be more maju.

    Btw, i was with the Kenyan and they rebus their rice in a nicely packed leaf. They will carry the leaf pack of rice to forest during the hunting days. It beats carrying a stick of bamboo.

  4. calvin says:

    ive tried one of the best lemang ever in kemaman…on the way to awana kijla resort. small one consists of 5 sticks of lemang at RM10 and 3 large ones at RM15. damn cheap and nice. if the makcik good mood, she’ll give you and extra stick of lemang. yesterday went to my colleague’s house and end up cirit-birit. spoil my holidays 🙁

  5. ahfu says:

    lemang….. i basically miss all malay food!!! thought i would have chance to taste some but due to my tight working schedule…. cant even really try though i am now working in singapore

  6. best russian dating site says:

    Fergie, you haven’t been eating lemang for some time now? LOL… I make sure i have lemang and ketupats every year during raya…either i buy some for myself or i go and raid my colleague’s open house for it. be forewarn though… if you eat too much, you’ll end up having too much ‘air’ in your stomach and will get stomach upset. 🙁 I get stomach upset, and was forced to lie down the whole damn day after eating lemang yesterday. 🙁 Calvin also get diarrhea… I wonder if he’s luckier than me. I was KO-ed yesterday. Free RPK T-shirt? Do you need to pay for it? I want one too! But i doubt I’ll have enough guts to wear it outside… wait later police tangkap me. 🙁

    Kevin… aiya, this is raya, sure got time to yak yak…. ahahaha… I tell you, if it’s CNY or Xmas, I wouldn’t be here to yak yak or even post an article, because I’ll be busy hiding from angpow hunters and fighting off evil outlaws. LMAO. Since you miss the lemang, go and raid some friend’s open house lorr… LOL… I’m not even over mooncake festival yet, den raya comes already…I’m definitely looking forward to Deepavali… huaahahahaha….muruku, muruku, here I come! *rubs hands together*

    Amoker…yes, if only we can respect the difference that each ethnicity in Malaysia has the way we love and adore their food, Malaysia definitely would be a better place to live. It’s just too bad that we cannot tolerate the nonsense that out politician leaders seems to bring up these days. In truth, we actually can be united and put our differences aside with ease if our leaders stopped talking about supremacy of a certain race supposed to have as well as start to tolerate and understand each other’s religion better instead of suppressing people’s rights to choose their own religion. Unfortunately, THEY decided to play the racial card issue to have people’s thinking and mindset in check in order to gain control over us. I’m not a racist, definitely will not start to be one any time soon. I love Malaysia too much to be a racist. But I’m certain that not everyone out there in Malaysia is capable of loving each other unconditionally.
    Speaking of the Kenyan and their method of carrying cooked rice in nicely packed leaves….it makes me think of ketupat and bak chang…. lmao…. ahhh, damn, I’m still not over my holiday fever yet. 😛

    … huhuhu….. why there the lemang so cheap wan? You know how much I bought the stick of lemang that caused me stomach upset? It’s Rm10 per stick! Rm10 per stick, not RM10 for 5 sticks! NO FAIR! No wonder i cannot put on weight! Food in KL is too expensive. 🙁 Anyway, how are you feeling now? Are you over your cirit-birit yet? I’m definitely not over my stomach upset yet. 🙁 Still sakit when I’m writing the reply to your comments.

    Ahfu… I guess it’s quite hard to find Malay delicacies in Singapore…you seems to be deprived from our local delicacies. LOL… Take a break every now and then, AhFu, all work and no play makes AhFu a sick man. 😀

  7. Garfield says:

    Actually eating lemang and ketupat during raya is just in south east asia only, this is our unique culture where other islamic country dun have.

    we should be proud of this culture.


  8. dils says:

    Oh, the history/asal usul of lemang is interesting. And kinda true.

    Back in school, we organized a kayak trip where need to travel a river and basically camped at riverside. So we bring along supplies and food. One of those included ketupat. Easier to store and cooked and very filling.

    Hari Raya still not over yet. Open house galore ahead!

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