BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro
Eid-al-Fitr, Feast of Breaking the Fast on the first day of Shawal, marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.
This year’s Eid gathering will be limited to private events with family members and close friends on scheduled basis at home to prevent overcrowding, or at a hall, with QR scanning at entry points, due to Covid19 pandemic, according to Brunei Ministry of Health guidelines.
The Covid19 outbreak in Brunei is under control with 223 cases. No local cases have been reported for nearly a year. Vaccination is still in early stages, and Brunei needs to be vigilant and adhere to protocols.
Bruneians have been fasting as spiritual discipline during Ramadan since over 500 years ago when Arab missionaries introduced Islam religion.
Village farmers and fish folk were told when to break fast by the beating of the large badok, a mosque drum during pre-loudspeaker days to call the faithful to prayer. The badok’s sound to indicate fasting time was replayed on the radio from the late ‘50s when national radio service hit the air lanes.
With no restaurants or Gerai Ramadan food stalls, most villagers cooked extra food and shared with neighbours to break the fast.
Today’s calendar gives the time for the five-times-a-day prayers, Imsak (10-minute gap before Subuh morning prayers for Muslims to stop eating and start fasting, and Iftar (breaking of fast).
Today, breaking of fast is big business with sungkai (breaking the fast) buffet and Gerai Ramadan in Brunei’s four districts.
Filipino entrepreneur Irene Badilla owns Rang Mahal restaurant which caters Indian food from Chef Somboon’s Thai Kitchen.
This namesake of Delhi’s Palace of Color has a private sungkai buffet offering satay (skewered meat), fish cake, prawn donut starters; tom yam soup; papaya and yam salads; pineapple fried rice, green curry chicken, garlic pepper beef, fish mango; squid and broccoli Japanese bean curd; dessert and drinks.
Bruneians love Lamb Mandi, a moist, dewy textured young lamb cooked in tandoor (oven), served with spiced long grained basmati rice and no vegetables.
Whole roasted lamb is hotel chain’s signature dish for meat lovers.
Different Ramadan Sungkai restaurants offer Pakistani, Indian, all you can eat pizza and pasta; tacos with free flow of hortacha (sweet rice milk) drink; grill & steamboat; sushi; over 100 dishes including lok lok, (skewered steamboat meat and vegetables), Thai crepes, tokayaki and local delights with Chinese-Thai flavors; udang (prawn salad), kerbau daging (beef sal-ad); tauhu sumbat (vegetable-stuffed bean curd), ulam ulam (salad greens), ikan masak lemak chili padi (braised fish in coconut child gravy), daging prune (beef chunks in soy and prune juice), ayam masak merah (fried chicken with spiced tomato sauce), udang kari (prawn curry), taufu goreng nestum (crispy bean curd with cereal and curry leaf), cangkuk ma-nis masak kunyit (stir-fried turmeric vegetable), mee goreng mamak ayam (wok fried, mamak style chicken noodles); dessert sago gula melaka (sago with palm sugar).
Sighting of crescent moon in May determines when Eid starts.