i cooked. spaghetti and nasi minyak. fine.
i single-handedly cooked (with the help of mr. khairul in cuting the onions and vegetables) for almost 70 people. daymn!
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this is about to be a loooong, syok-sendiri-i'm-so-proud-of-myself posting. save yourself and leave this page NOW. stubborn, are you? fine! you have been warned.
ok for those of you who are used to cooking for large amount of people, this is no biggie. and for people like my friend fazlein who can whip up a good fish curry at the age of 14, this is nothing to shout about either. and for couples who have vast experience hosting raya open house for years and years, this is no front-page news also.
i do not belong to any of those group of people. when i cook a lot, i cook for my family. i have no idea how to make fish curry, and the only raya open house we have ever hosted as a couple was in conjunction with khaleef's first birthday, and even then we had a lot of help.
even hosting raya open house with my family in ipoh, we would order food out - lemang, satay and stuff, ask my mom's sister cik to make her char kuey teow and mak would make her yummy chicken rendang.
i don't cook!
so yes, this raya open house we're hosting in dubai IS a big thing. we had a list, we had a budget, we had the possible number of guests, we had the what ifs, and we had plan A and plan B - when in doubt we're even thinking of calling my mom-in-law for advice!
ok, you have to understand that i'm making a big deal here because we rarely hosted a makan-makan this huge! ok rare would be wrong - almost never would be more accurate!
we wanted to order our favourite 'drug' nasi mandi - senang, takyah pikir banyak-banyak. but figured that hey, it's raya - let's put some effort and cook something from scratch for our dubai friends. so what can you cook, syigim?
kalau yang terer masak, macam-macam menu timbul, sampai susah nak pilih yang mana satu nak masak. but for me, the choices are limited - spaghetti is about the only thing i'm confident of cooking. oh, and the simple nasi minyak recipe that mak left for me. whip up some ayam masak merah my style - and voila - we got our main menu.
but it all went well - and yes, i will say it again and again - i am very proud of myself for cooking a nasi minyak that is not keras nor hangit (though an 'unsuccessful' nasi minyak because a lot of people seemed to think it was nasi lemak), an ayam merah dish with lovely peas and tomatoes and one heck of a big pot of spaghetti sauce.
mr. khairul helped peel the garlic and onions, cut up the vegetables and sliced the oranges. he was the nanny through-out my cooking adventures in the kitchen. he prepared the hall for guests to arrive.
he really wanted to help me cook, but you know me and my kitchen and my system. no one messes with my system! thanks, but no thanks, honey. leave my kitchen alone, and you go layan the boys lah while i fry the chicken!
khaleef was all ready with a complete baju melayu and sampin, while i put up the raya decor, just a smidge to get a little feel of raya. kahfi was already getting sleepy, and i was hoping that he would sleep by the time the first guests start to arrive.
i also bake the easiest sweeties i know - puding roti choc chip. easy, fast with simple ingredients and no using the mixer. that morning i also boiled the instant ketupat daun palas and lemang, and cut out the nasi himpit that kak ziela gave me from the extras at her open house the night before.
i poured in the serunding brought from malaysia and heated up the instant kuah kacang. i boiled the pasta and grated the cheese for my spaghetti. i took out my bottles of fried anchovies, cut-up the boiled eggs and finally prepared my super-spicy sambal. (ikan bilis, telur rebus, sambal - patutla orang ingat aku buat nasi lemak!)
..and then we waited.
ding dong! our first guests arrived! it was my uni-mate fauziah and hubby fairoz with their kiddos azfar and hanna, complete in their baju melayu and baju kurung. adorable. she brought, among others, a huge plate of 'arab sweets' or baklava that became one of the many conversation pieces throughout the evening.
thanks dear! (psst! roti canai homemade satu! oh, make it 5 pieces, just for me!)
and after that, our dubai friends started arriving in gerombolans! kak zaida and bro imran with their girls bringing kak ani and family whom i newly met, tokeh cendol eiyda and bro nik all the way from sharjah with her twinkling daughters, kak jah (my esteemed tukang urut during my pantang) from mirdiff came with hubby and daughter, and tokeh roti fida and amran with their kiddos. terima kasih sudi datang!
also arriving was the current myUAEpro president bro affandy, wife kak su and kiddos. he actually showed interests in my x-files collection! i was touched. isk isk. nah, actually it was super cool. i saw him in a new light that day. haha.
mr. khairul's right-hand-man, radha and wife sreeja joined in, bringing a gigantic pot of chicken curry - an original make from kerala - an addition to the lauk for my nasi minyak. thanks so much, dear sreeja! it was really a big help!
mr. khairul's mckk classmate afza came after what seemed hours of car-park searching! nasib baik dapat jugak. aida with kids alya and baby adly dah selamat makan!
soon, other mcobs started showing up with their families; bro faisal and bro zaim. too bad lah kamil you kat malaysia. rugi tau!
we took all our resources (carpet, carpets, carpetS!) and blanketed the whole hall, hoping that the guests would be comfortable enjoying their raya dish on the floor. the guests seemed to be adding up by the hour and we hoped we have enough food (and space) to go around!
since kahfi was sound asleep in his crib in our main bedroom, i had ample time to roam about making sure guests were at ease and their tummies properly filled. i could freely walked about the kitchen topping-up the spaghetti sauce and other dishes; making sure everything was enough and most importantly - served fresh and hot from the stove.
mr. khairul had his share of kitchen time when he constantly turned the stove up to re-heat the pots of spaghetti sauce and chicken curry.
how about khaleef? khaleef opened his self-operated nursery in the guest room, armed with his toy box. then he moved the scene to the front, showing off his skills in x-box games, while hogging the controller the entire time!
what is raya makan-makan without snaps and shots and flashes from the cameras? group photos were a must at any raya open house, paling tak pun pasal nak tag di facebook! some pictures in my keep are blurry, but most important is the memory of a meriah day because of your attendance!
before we let the guests leave, a snap shot was a must! that's why most of them are taken near the door!
kak ziela, bro haza and kiddos came later that evening, and were joined in by tokeh tau foo fah fairus, fadzil and their girls.
and of course, the late-comers of the day - our consul general tuan syed hasrin and wife kak sarah. thanks for coming! fashionably late, but better than never! tu lah - sebab lambat, tak sempat rasa my nasi minyak! we quickly whipped up nasi putih right before they came as kak ziela and family pun tak sempat rasa!
with kak sarah and sir consul general who's in a playful mode this raya!
it was late in the night so mr. khairul made teh tarik for the final guests of the night. tuan syed, bro haza, fadzil and mr. tuan razali, tourism director lepak-lepak and borak-borak over teh tarik, while the ladies had a chat about the much-talked about local drama series, nur kasih which i had never ever seen. dengar kata best sangat and kalau tengok confirm nangis. ye ke?
after they left, few more guests came, and stayed till past 11pm. tak abis lagi rupanya my open house! by the end of the day i was dead tired, and found that my tumit hurts like crazy, especially after i lie down for awhile, and starting to walk again.
tired, sleepy and aching all over - but it was so worth it.
for all who graced our humble dubai marina abode with your presence - we thank you. we appreciate you guys making our first full-fledged, cook-by-ourselves open house a memorable occasion, a yardstick for future open houses to come. (berapa ekor ayam nak masak, berapa pot nasik, berapa peket spaghetti bla bla..)
it was very touching when 'veteran' cooks like kak jah complimenting my food, and for some men to go back to the food table for seconds and thirds - and for others as well for your sweet and encouraging words. it meant so much for a rookie cook like me, so i thank you again!
and thank you for giving me this content feeling and the joy of feeding people. suka tengok orang tambah nasi. suka tengok orang makan nasi, lepas tu makan spaghetti, lepas tu sambung makan nasi balik! yes, nothing is more satisfying than seeing people finish your food with slurps and finger-licks!
thank you, thank you, thank you!
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saving the best for last - to my partner in crime, mr. khairul - hey, we did good, when we thought we couldn't pull it off. *hugs* so, when can we do this again?