Keeping Tradition Alive With New Lemang Cooking Technique

s one of Malaysia’s signature heritage delicacies, the traditional lemang is undoubtedly a must-have on the menu for Muslims who will be celebrating Hari Raya Aidiladha this Thursday.

The traditional dish – a combination of glutinous rice, coconut milk and salt – is cooked in a hollow bamboo pole carefully lined with banana leaves. The poles are then placed on an open flame that has to be set on a relatively low heat.

A lot of practice and patience is needed to obtain an evenly cooked lemang as the whole process usually takes about five to six hours of roasting.  One also needs to look after the fire to ensure that the lemang is not burnt.



Today, lemang sellers have also become change-makers in the marketplace by leveraging their traditional food knowledge to cook the popular delicacy using new techniques to meet consumer demand.

At present, lemang is no longer a festive dish as it is sold on any other day to customers without having to wait for either Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Hari Raya Aidiladha.

There are more options for sellers to make lemang readily available to customers, including using the steaming method. The latest and unique method is to cook and roast lemang by placing the bamboo tubes containing the mixture into steel drums.

Making their kitchen as a site of transformative innovation, Rabiatul Adawiyah Mokhtar, 31, and her husband Md Fariz Abdul Hamid, 39, are among the lemang sellers who are always looking for new ways to create value for their customers.

Sharing their journey, the operators of Lemang Power Taman Midah, Cheras told Bernama, the idea came about during the Movement Control Order (MCO) when they faced difficulties in getting their firewood supply.

 “We have been running the lemang business using firewood since 2008.

"My husband started this business in Bandar Sri Permaisuri over the past 15 years but due to the MCO which was imposed to curb the spread of COVID-19, we decided to pivot to another method by using steel drums at our existing premise in Jalan Midah 8, Taman Midah, Cheras.

 “After exploring the latest option, my husband and his colleagues created a special drum to cook lemang.  After several experiments, we finally managed to produce tasty, creamy and good quality lemang,” she said, adding that commercialising of their lemang started in 2021.



Rabiatul Adawiyah said cooking lemang using the new technique of using steel drums is certainly much easier compared to the traditional method of cooking using firewood.

 “In fact the original aroma is retained through this new technique, and it is also cleaner as it is protected from dust and air pollution.

"Given that our lemang is produced in the town area, open burning can be avoided and at the same time, our customers can still enjoy the same taste and quality. Besides the air pollution factor, the new technique saves space and cost,” she added.

 She said, what’s interesting is the heat inside the drum allows all lemang tubes to be cooked at the same time.

  "The materials and the cooking mixture are the same as the traditional method such as using firewood except that a gas cylinder and a cooking stove are used for roasting. To produce lemang using this new technique, the cooking process takes about one to two hours only.

 “On its taste, the texture of the lemang cooked in steel drums is softer and is not crusty,” said Rabiatul Adawiyah who owns four specially designed steel drums that can produce 120 tubes of lemang at a time.

Each steel drum with 0.9 metre in height and 0.6 metre in diameter can accommodate 30 lemang tubes. Every roasting process involves four steel drums.



Efforts by the couple proved fruitful when lemang produced through the new technique had been given the thumbs up by their customers.

This is reflected in sales of up to 1,000 tubes a day ahead of a festive season.

 “On normal days, lemang is sold based on orders received from our customers. Alhamdulillah, we have been overwhelmed by orders throughout Ramadan as well as Syawal.  Similarly for Hari Raya Aidiladha, we also produce lemang that is much sought-after by our customers,” she said.

Their lemang is sold between RM13 and RM25 each depending on the size. Customers can also opt for lemang that is already cut into round cylindrical shape for Raya celebration meal serving together with sets of chicken and beef rendang dishes.

 “Response has been very encouraging from customers and most of them love the lemang cooked in steel drums.

 “It is our sincere hope that our lemang can rekindle nostalgic memories of our past generations, with the traditional lemang brought down to the younger generation so that more people will be able to learn the simple way of cooking lemang. The theory is the same; the only difference is the cooking technique.

 “We also hope that the lemang market will grow with the times. Anyone keen to have a taste of lemang cooked in steel drums can contact me through Facebook Lemang Power Taman Midah or Instagram @lemangpower.branch," said Rabiatul Adawiyah, admitting that the main challenge is to ensure the lemang produced is tailored to suit the palate of every level of the community.


Translated by Salbiah Said





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