Try your hands at these 12 Hari Raya Haji food recipes this weekend

Food, family, and friends – these are what makes festival celebrations so meaningful. And you know what they say: a family that eats together stays together.

With Hari Raya Haji falling on 20 July, eating at home this year is probably a great idea, even as eating out in bigger groups is allowed once more now that the regulations of Phase 3 (Heightened Alert) relax a wee bit.

After all, homecooked goodies just add that dash of warmth and comfort like no fancy cutlery can. The conversation around the family dinner table also always feels a little more special and intimate, doesn’t it?

As with all festivals in Singapore, food is always the main event so why don’t you join in the festival by trying to cook up a spread of delicious food this year to add to the feast?

These 12 traditional recipes are a great place to begin. Whether you want to whip up an impressive main dish like Assam Pedas Fish or a sweet treat like Dodol, these recipes are great for you to try, even if you’re a beginner in the kitchen.

1. Curry Chicken

Photo source: Nyonya Cooking

The grand old dame of any Hari Raya buffet table often is often a family heirloom recipe, passed down through the generations.

What usually differs from recipe to recipe is the proportion of certain spices like cloves, cardamom, star anise, and cinnamon.

The end result is always a comforting warm bowl of fragrant goodness with succulent chicken ladled over steaming white rice, to warm the soul and heart.

Get the recipe here.

2. Beef Rendang

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This delicious dry curry is a favourite at all times, and especially over Hari Raya. It’s a wonderfully complex curry that pairs like a dream with coconut rice. While it requires a long list of spices to make its flavour so rich and unique, the good news is that it’s actually fairly straightforward to make!

The secret? A trusty food processor. Blitz the spices into a paste with a food processor, before browning the beef on the stove. Finally, pop everything into a slow cooker for about two hours (or as long a the recipe calls for), so that the beef turns flake-off-your-fork tender. Sedap.

Get the recipe here.

3. Lontong Sayur Lodeh

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No Hari Raya spread will be complete without this traditional Malay vegetable stew, and for good reason. Cabbage and an assortment of vegetables, simmered in sweet coconut milk for maximum sweetness, is a definite win in all our books.

It’s best enjoyed over ketupat rice cakes, the firmness of the rice cakes a wonderful contrast against the creamy richness of the coconutty, lemak gravy.

Get the recipe here.

4. Roti Jala

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This pretty-looking rolled crepe with a distinctive doily pattern is a favourite side dish served at Hari Raya.

Delicate, tender and bite-sized, it’s way too easy to keep popping them into your mouth as you revel in the company of your family.

They go especially well with rendang and curry so you know where to seat yourself on the table to enjoy these babies!

Get the recipe here.

5. Ayam Biryani

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There is something magical about biting into a perfectly deep-fried chicken leg, crispy on the outside, and juicy on the inside, then spooning robustly spiced biryani over.

The crunch of the chicken goes so well with the fragrant long-grained rice that’s distinctively yellow. Eat this with your hands for extra flavour points.

Get the recipe here.

6. Spiced Prawns

Photo source: The Singapore Women’s Weekly

This Nyonya-inspired take on prawns is a great dish to add to your Hari Raya feast.

Stir-frying these succulent prawns in a heady blend of candlenut, turmeric, garlic and chilli to perfection is fairly straightforward, the most tricky bit is probably shopping for fresh prawns so they come right off the shell when you sit down to eat them.

For a more intense flavour, you can make this the day before so that the flavours have time to really develop. Leave this to marinate in the fridge overnight and your taste buds will totally thank you the next day.

Get the recipe here.

7. Satay

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Who doesn’t love satay? It’s supposedly an appetiser but we can definitely eat satay all day! Succulent chicken, lamb or beef skewers grilled to perfection with those beautiful char marks are really a sight to behold.

Dip them into a fragrant peanut sauce and there’s really no stopping you from polishing off stick after delicious stick.

Pro tip: Marinate the satay overnight in a special blend of lemongrass, garlic, turmeric, coriander, chilli, and shallots. We promise you, your dinner guests will surely approve.

Get the recipe here.

8. Tharid

Photo source: Los Angeles Times

Fancy some kambing to vary up the flavours on your table this Hari Raya? Here’s one: tharid, also known as lamb stew. It’s made from boneless lamb so you just know the meat will be so tender it will just melt in your mouth.

When poured over crispy flatbread, the explosion of flavour and textures in your mouth – hearty, warm stew over a crunchy bed of crisp bread – is unreal. We really recommend it.

Get the recipe here.

9. Assam Pedas Fish

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This dish is exactly as its name says – sour and spicy with an extra serving of satisfaction. Traditionally, the preferred fish for this dish is Spanish mackerel or stingray, but you could technically use any fish you like. Pomfret works well too – essentially, any fish with firm white flesh would be excellent.

What gives this dish its distinctive sour tang is a big dollop of tamarind pulp, a tropical fruit that we Southeast Asian folk love. A generous spoonful of belacan mixed up in the gravy to up the spice factor and you’ll be eating multiple servings of fluffy white rice with this mouthwatering dish before you even realise it.

Get the recipe here.

10. Lemang

Photo source: @khairulaming/Instagram

This traditional Hari Raya dish is so special because it’s usually only made for the festive season due to its long cook time that requires up to four hours of careful roasting over a fire. Wait, what? Not to worry, we’ve found an easy-cook version that does not scrimp on the taste.

It stays true to its original form of pandan-infused rice cooked in coconut cream, wrapped in banana leaf, but all you require for this recipe are some paper cups and a steamer. Go on, make this and totally surprise the family this Raya!

Get the recipe here.

11. Dodol

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Perhaps these toffee-like sweets are reminiscent of your childhood, and there’s no better time to revisit sweet memories than this Hari Raya! The stretchier, the better, as they say.

This recipe is particularly easy to make – the trick is in constantly stirring the gula melaka, coconut milk, and glutinous rice mixture over medium-low heat for about 20 minutes until the mixture turns into a shiny, firm paste.

Wrap this goodness up in cling wrap to cool and solidify before enjoying.

Get the recipe here.

12. Air Bandung Soda

Photo source: The Singapore Women’s Weekly

There’s nothing that quite screams celebration like this bright pink drink that’s probably everyone’s favourite childhood treat.

The cocktail of fragrant rose syrup with creamy evaporated milk is surely one of the most memorable tastes in the world that’s equal part joyous equal part comforting.

You’ll want to wash down the decadent Hari Raya feasting with some equally indulgent Air Bandung Soda. What’s more, you can make the beverage even more refreshing (and sinful, but who’s keeping track!) with a splash of ice cream soda.

Get the recipe here.