Kuih raya, hari raya, and maaf zahir batin: An intro to celebrating Eid in Malaysia

How do you prepare for Eid in Malaysia? Here is a brief explanation on the importance of kuih raya and what to say on Hari Raya.

Kuih raya, hari raya, and maaf zahir batin: An intro to celebrating Eid in Malaysia
A girl feeling excited while looking at jars of kuih raya - Omerimbun.com

Kuih raya literally means "celebration treats/desserts." This phrase refers to treats made especially for Eid in Malaysia. You might also hear people say biskut raya when they specifically mention cookies they are preparing for the holidays.

biskut: cookies (American English)/biscuits (British English)

Pre-Eid preparation

I have fond memories of my family members and I sitting around the dining table and making kuih raya. We would be mixing and rolling out the dough while listening to lagu raya on the radio and just having fun spending time together.

lagu raya: Eid music (literally "celebration songs")

Imagine the smell of flour, ghee and ground nuts coming from the oven after a hard day's work of shaping little balls of makmur, a sweet and rich baked dessert rolled around in icing powder. And I can't get enough of makmur made by our sponsor, Hop's Cookies.

⏫ They are just so decadent and filling, perfect for an energy boost to go to the fifth open house of the day.

Easy to serve and eat

Bite-sized kuih raya are important for Malaysians because they can be prepared in advance before Eid, stored for a long time and easily enjoyed by the guests as finger food.

When I visit my saudara-mara and friends during the Eid holidays, more often than not there would be jars and jars of biskut raya served for us guests.

saudara-mara: relatives/kin

The kuih raya could be served on the coffee table or dining table ready to be eaten. Kuih sampan, as pictured below 🔽 , should be the choice to make when you want your kuih raya to be not just tasty, but also pretty.

I mean, these cute little boat-shaped desserts are so photogenic I can't resist taking pictures of them (and devouring them right away.) 😋

sampan: a small type of traditional wooden boat

Gifting kuih raya

There is also a huge culture of gifting kuih raya to friends, family and co-workers during Ramadhan. 💝 Here's a tip for you: find out what type of kuih raya they would like to have and pick one from Hop's Cookies' selections:

My personal favourite is the dark cookies 🍪 variety because it's sweet but slightly bitter from the rich cocoa powder in the dough:

⏫ When you decide to get these chocolate chip cookies, click the button below so you can treat your eyes to some more delicious kuih raya goodness:


What if while you're appreciating the kuih raya served to you on Hari Raya, you don't know what to say?

Important things to say on Hari Raya in Malaysia

😺 Do not fret. Just memorise these phrases and while enjoying the food served in front of you, just say these things to the host:

  1. Sedapnya! (How tasty!)
  2. Tak terlalu manis! (Not too sweet!)
  3. Beli di mana? (Where did you buy this?)
  4. Buat sendiri? (Did you make it yourself?)

And last but not least, do not forget to say:

Selamat Hari Raya!

⏫ This phrase is basically just Happy Eid or Eid Mubarak! It literally means "happy celebration day."

Maaf zahir dan batin.

⏫ This phrase literally means "I seek forgiveness from you physically and spiritually". It is almost always said right after "Selamat Hari Raya" and is symbolic of the intention to start afresh and enjoy Eid with our loved ones without ill feelings.

With that said, Selamat Hari Raya to you and maaf zahir batin!