DESPITE being thousands of kilometres away from their home, Aruba Ahmad and her family still find Pakistani traditions hard to discard, especially during Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
IPOH: The family, from Islamabad, has been in Malaysia for more than 10 years now, but still continue to celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri or Eid-ul-Fitr, the Pakistani way.
"Instead of Selamat Hari Raya, Pakistanis usually greet each other with Eid Mubarak. It is also customary for us to give duit raya but we call it Eidi," said Aruba at her open house in Taman Pinji Seni here recently.
Aruba's father is a lecturer with Universiti Teknologi Petronas in Seri Iskander, near here.
The 22-year-old pointed out that the celebration was also very much centred on food.
"Several dishes are a must-have, such as keema briyani rice (minced meat with seasoned rice) and palakh paneer (spinach and cheese dish)."
Other dishes include channa chat (chickpeas in spices dish), Peshawari chicken and chola (a gruel of mutton, rice, lentils, spinach, herbs and masala) served with papadam (ghee crackers).
"Chola can be literally translated as 'balls of fire' from Urdu, Pakistan's official language. It has a rich, spicy taste that goes well with papadam.
"My mother learnt to make these from a recipe passed down for generations in my family.
"My sisters and I also started learning to cook these traditional favourites when we entered our teens."
Aruba said her mother, Bushra Faiz, 50, usually prepared the food for friends and neighbours during their annual open house for Hari Raya.
"If we were back in our country, our Eid celebration would consist of a gathering among friends and family.
"But since we have been in Malaysia for the past 10 years, we have been sharing our celebration with friends and neighbours."
Neighbour Wong Soon Foo, 59, and his wife Sam Toong Yin, 57, have been regular guests in the Pakistani household for the past nine years, to attend their annual Hari Raya open house.
Both were fans of Pakistani cuisine and enjoyed eating the home-cooked traditional meals.
"Our neighbours' recipes are definitely far better than any restaurant fare that we have tried.
"Apart from the delicious food, we also love the experience of sharing festivities and the spirit of neighbourliness on the occasion," said Wong.