Are you excited for Christmas yet?
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As Christmas Day draws near, you might find yourself being invited to a family dinner, or a small get together with close loved ones to celebrate the occasion.
As someone who isn’t a great cook, I have been ordering take away for most of my meals, prioritising small local businesses to play my small part in giving back to my community during these difficult times.
Since I was invited to a potluck dinner with the family, I figured, why don’t I order a Christmassy dish from a local online business to bring to the potluck? That way, I could feed two birds with one scone – give back to my community and at the same time bring a delicious meal to Christmas dinner.
I didn’t have to look far for options, I literally just asked Twitter for what I was looking for, and it responded. Here are four dishes made by hardworking Malaysians that you can bring to Christmas dinner if you don’t have time to make anything yourself.
1. Brisket – Projek Dapur Umar
Honestly, nothing feels quite like Christmas more than some sort of roast meat, and Projek Dapur Umar knows more about brisket and beef than I probably know about writing articles.
When I asked Umar about his business and his product, he pointed me in the direction of his Facebook “About” section, which writes “Projek Dapur Umar is a longitudinal study of food and tastes specially brought to you by Umar Abdul Aziz.”
Umar sells his brisket cold and encourages you to defrost and sear it at high heat, but made the process of cooking and eating your meal a whole experience. Along with my pieces of meat, he also sent me a guidebook (or cookbook if you will), complete with an amazing pantun about the joys of eating meat.
My pieces of meat arrived in a container labelled “Rosemary”. I quickly put a pan on the stove, turned the fire up to max, waited for it to start smoking, then immediately placed both cuts onto the hot pan and watched as the beef sizzled.
It took me a total of three minutes to completely sear the meats. Since they’re technically already cooked, I really just needed to heat it up. I cut a generous piece and took a bite… not only was Umar’s brisket juicy, but it was also bursting with rosemary and buttery flavours.
My thoughts: Fun, flavourful, satisfying, and an impressive dish to bring to Christmas dinner.
Umar is currently offering a Christmas promo of 2kg of cooked brisket for just RM80.
2. Lasagna – Reality Bites
Yes, lasagna is definitely Christmas appropriate. Why wouldn’t you have a generous helping of piping hot, cheesy and tomatoey lasagna? It just screams “perfect comfort food in the winter (and tropical weather of Malaysia, too).
It is also great as a potluck option, I have never met anyone who isn’t a fan of lasagna.
Reality Bites was borne from the wake of 2020’s hardships. Founded by husband and wife duo Farez Khan and Soraya Taib, both independent local musicians whose income has been affected by the Movement Control Order (MCO).
They do everything themselves, from prepping, cooking, and packing, to coordinating deliveries (sometimes driving around themselves to get their lasagna to hungry customers). They are firm believers of the anecdote “reality sucks, but your food doesn’t have to.” As Farez puts it: Good food will always put you in a good mood.
Reality Bites is great if you’re serving for people with dietary restrictions as well, as they come in three alternatives: beef, chicken, and vegetarian. I bought myself the beef alternative in the smaller size – perfect for two people.
My lasagna arrived just in time for dinner, still warm and ready to eat. I took a fork and dug in. My first impression was…unexpected, to be honest. I mean, you generally can’t go wrong with lasagna. But this lasagna was REALLY good.
It is incredibly indulgent, probably the creamiest, cheesiest lasagna I’ve ever had.
It works really well heated up the next day as well (I had too much fruitcake and couldn’t finish my dinner).
My thoughts: WORTH IT! I do not regret the calories in this lasagna.
For orders between 24 December to 31 December, Reality Bites gives customers who buy 2 large lasagnas RM20 off their total purchase (pending available slots).
Get your own creamy lasagna by contacting Reality Bites through Instagram.
3. Fruitcake – Sugarina
To be honest, fruitcake always gets a bad rep and I’ve never been particularly a fan of steamed cakes. “Steaming is for fish!”, I always say. So, I wasn’t expecting much when Sugarina’s fruitcake arrived at my door in an unassuming square plastic container tied neatly with a purple ribbon.
Sugarina was founded five years ago in Simpang Renggam, Johor by Zalina Othman who used an old family recipe to make fruitcakes. After her husband passed away, Zalina found herself the sole breadwinner of her family and needed to feed her two kids, who were at the time just 5 and 1 years old.
Zalina has come a long way since then, her cakes are highly requested during the many festive occasions in Malaysia (and Singapore). Sugarina’s fruitcake comes in two sizes, 300g for RM19 and 630g for RM40.
I cut myself a generous slice to try. My first impression was that this is an extremely moist fruitcake. Two minutes later I came back for another slice.
By the end of the night, I’d eaten half the cake. The interesting thing about Sugarina’s fruitcake is that not only is it extremely moist, it’s also not that sweet, which means you always feel like you have room for more.
I can safely say that my husband had all of three slices, while I finished the rest of it.
My thoughts: I’ve already ordered a second batch to bring it along with me for my potluck Christmas dinner.
Sugarina is offering a Christmas promotion as well – buy two large boxes (630g) and you get a smaller cake (300g) for free.
4. Cookies and madeleines – Butternums
Cookies and milk are the perfect treat to enjoy on Christmas Eve, they’re also excellent snacks for the kids to enjoy.
If you’re the kind of foodie who not only appreciates delicious food but also likes pretty Instagrammable pastries, Butternums has a vibe.
Butternums is the creation of Laily Farhanan, an Interior Architecture graduate from Limkokwing University who decided to make a career change to pursue her passion for baking.
In her free time, Laily experiments with new recipes to achieve her perfected, delicious works of art. She also refuses to compromise on ingredients and uses the best for her customers.
Butternums sent me samples of their Caramel Sables and two types of Madeleines – Ariaga (Dark Chocolate) and Jivara (Milk Chocolate). Sables are delicate, crumbly French styled cookies, while Madeleines, also French, are tiny sponge cakes made in a distinctive shell-like shape.
Her cookies come in two types, caramel sables and chocolate chip cookies. Whereas her madeleines come in five different flavours: Dark Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, Matcha, Lemon, and Blonde Chocolate.
I tried the Caramel Sables first. These tiny cookies are adorable and pair perfectly with a cup of tea. The Madeleines, on the other hand, had me feeling like Emily In Paris – nuff said.
My thoughts: Delicious, and so, so, so, perfectly Instagrammable. Your cousin will be jealous if you brought these to Christmas dinner!
Starving forensic investigator turned writer cause she couldn't find a job. Used to search for killers now searches for killer stories.