Sept 4 2010
Every Muslim country has its own special delicacies unique to this holy month. In Malaysia one of the most eagerly awaited meals is bubur lambuk. The best known bubur lambuk is made at a mosque situated in Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur. The delightful Kampung Baru bubur lambuk has been popular among Malaysians for over 60 years.
What makes Kampung Baru’s bubur lambuk special is that it is prepared and distributed to the public free of charge throughout the whole month of Ramadan, and people are willing to queue up for hours in order to take home some of this traditional dish.
It started in 1949, when a Pakistani named Allahyarham Said Benk came up with the recipe. He used to serve up the dish in small quantities — just enough for the people who had come to pray in the mosque. Before he passed away, the recipe was passed on to the mosque’s imam at that time and continued to the next generation.
For 60 years now the recipe has not been changed — not even one ingredient has been left out. There are seven types of spices used in making bubur lambuk: aniseed, fenugreek, cardamom, cloves, star anise and black pepper. It includes meat, dried shrimp, onion, garlic, coconut milk, ghee, coconut oil and salt. In addition, pandan leaves, parsley, green onions and fried onions are use to create the bubur lambuk’s appealing aroma.
The cooking process is begun as early as 8 a.m. by 10 special chefs with 130 assistants. All ingredients are prepared after the nightly Ramadan terawih prayer the previous evening. Every year 14 enormous pots are used to make the dish for approximately 5,000 members of the public. Each pot can produce between 200 and 250 servings of bubur lambuk.
All 14 pots are cooked for three hours. The packaging process starts immediately after that, and the bubur lambuk is distributed to the public after the afternoon (asr) prayer. The mosque receives a lot of corporate and individual sponsors to support its expenses in preparing the appetizing dish.
In addition to its popular taste, bubur lambuk is also very nutritious, since it includes many healthy ingredients that are good for the body. For instance, anise seed can help to lower a person’s risk of diabetes, black pepper can prevent stomach irritation and flatulence, cardamom improves blood circulation to the lungs, cinnamon is believed to improve energy, cloves are used as a treatment for digestive ailments and garlic works as a stimulant for the body’s immune system. Bubur lambuk is a perfect meal for breaking one’s fast, as the body loses much energy during the daytime.
Even the process of preparing bubur lambuk is beneficial, as it involves the community in Kampung Baru. It fosters the concept of doing things together and helping each other in a spirit of goodwill. Apart from that, the people who come to taste bubur lambuk are not only local residents, nor just from Kuala Lumpur, but from all over the country. So this dish even works to strengthen relations between Muslims. People also offer charity by contributing cash or ingredients for the dish.