The Hungry Ghost Festival is linked to the Chinese practice of ancestor worship and is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, which falls in July or August.
According to traditional Chinese belief, the seventh month of the lunar calendar is the time when restless spirits of the dead roam the earth.
Many temples will hold prayer ceremonies throughout the month-long Hungry Ghost Festival (Phor Thor) to appease the spirits. Chinese households will pray and make offerings of food and faux money, to 'ghosts' and their ancestors to use in the afterlife, often particularly on the 15th day of this lunar month, which is the Yu Lan or Hungry Ghost Festival.
In many major towns/places of Malaysia such as, Kuala Lumpur, PJ, Penang, Johor Bahru, etc, one of the main highlights of the festival is the performance of Chinese operas, staged on temporary wooden stages. The celebrations normally lasts the entire 7th month at temples but stage show are held for a short while.
In Penang, to locate temples and make-shif stage for stage performances, just lookout for colourful flags hanging aong roadsides, usually in the direction of these temples.
Some common Nyonya dishes are:
Acar Awak – mixed vegetables of cucumber, carrots, long beans, etc., are cooked and pickled with spices.
Acar Ikan (pickled fish) – fried fish soaked in a light gravy cooked from ginger, garlic, vinegar, dried chillies and turmeric.
Ayam Buah Keluak – spicy chicken curry cooked with buah keluak (candlenuts). The curry has a creamy and nutty flavour.
Asam Pedas – spicy sour curry of fish and pineapple. Chilli Crab – spicy crab stir fried with chillies, garlic, ginger, turmeric, galangal,lemon grass, shrimp paste (blachan) and tamarind juice.
Lor Bak – thin strips of pork seasoned with spices and wrapped in a sheet of thin bean curd skin, and then deep fried. Restaurants in Penang often sells this with fried prawn fritters and other deep fried items served with sauces.
Nasi Ulam – rice mixed with finely shredded vegetables, fresh green herbs, shallots, chillies, toasted desiccated coconut, fried and flaked dried fish, etc. Nasi Kunyit – glutinous rice steamed with turmeric and creamy coconut milk and usually eaten with chicken curry.
Jiu Hu Char – a stir-fried dish of shredded vegetables (yambean, carrot, cabbage) and strips of cuttlefish or pork.
Nyonya Kueh – a variety of kueh (similar to cakes and puddings), mainly steamed and made from glutinous rice or rice flour and sometimes rich and fragrant coconut milk. Example: Kueh Lapis (steamed layered pudding), Ang Koo Kueh, Pulut Tai Tai, Kueh Talam, Kueh Kochi, Kueh Kodok, Pulut Enti, etc.
Otak-otak – spicy fish cake with egg, Some ingredients used in Peranakan cooking - serai, bunga kantan, galangal, etc. wrapped in banana leaves and steamed.
Perut Ikan (Pulay Ikan) – shredded vegetables (long bean, brinjal, daun kaduk, etc), fresh green herbs and shreds of fish intestines cooked in a light curry with tamarind juice. This dish is unique to the Penang (and Northern) Peranakans.
Popiah (spring rolls) – turnip, bean sprout, pork, fried egg and bean curd wrapped and rolled with a paperthin steamed pancake. The rolls are sometimes deep fried and garnished with a sweetened bean or chilli sauce. Sambal Blachan – chillies and toasted shrimp paste (blachan/ belacan) mixed with lime and salt. It imparts a piquant flavour to any accompaniment that you choose to pair it with.
Penang George Town Festival 2016
Penang’s George Town Festival has been making its mark on the regional events scene since its inception in 2010 This year, it will run from 29 July to 28 August 2016.
Highlights include the Asian premiere of Triptyque, a three-part show from Canadian dance-acrobat troupe Les 7 doights de la main, the Southeast Asian premiere of Smashed by Gandini Juggling and an opening-night performance called ‘Svara Bhumi’ (Songs of the Earth) featuring indigenous bands from Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Amongst the other regional premieres, Dutch artist Theo Jansen will be bringing Strandbeest, a collection of wind-powered anthropomorphic structures made from recycled materials. A video of Jansen’s work has racked up more than one million views on YouTube while a TED Talk video has been seen by in excess of 3.5 million people.
For Details refer to http://georgetownfestival.com/
Dim Sum for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Dim Sum restaurant are favourite places for a Chinese breakfast, but many old restaurants in George Town serves lunch and dinner as well.
These restaurents will cook a variety of Chinese (mainly Cantonese-style) dishes for the lunch and dinner crowd. You can order a plate of noodles or stir-fried vegetables and meat dishes during lunch and dinner serving hours.
Some Dim Sum restaurants in George Town:
- Tai Tong Restaurant; Location: 45, Lebuh Cintra (corner shop off Lebuh Carnavon). Opening hrs: breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Yong Pin Restaurant; Location: 11 B&C, Jalan Sungai Ujong, George Town. Opening hrs: breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Dim Sum Food Restaurant. Location: 63, Lorong Macalister, George Town. Opening hrs: breakfast, lunch
- Aik Hoe Restaurant; Location 6 & 8, Lebuh Carnavon, George Town. Opening hrs: breakfast, lunch
- Leong Kee Tim Sum. Location: 45, Lebuh Kimberly George Town. Opening hrs: breakfast, lunch
... and many more.
Chinese Chu Char Restaurants
Chu Char / Choo Char (in local Hokkien dialect, means cook and fry) restaurents are Chinese restaurents that specializes serves a variety of dishes, freshly cooked when ordered. Dishes are mainly stir-fried or steamed and cooked in Chinese Malaysian style. In Penang you can get a range of Chinese or spicy Nyonya or Thai dishes
- Tek Seng Restaurant; Location: 18-20 Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town, Opening Hours: Lunch and Dinner (closes on Tuesdays)
- Soon Lai Restaurent; Location, 15, Lintang Batu, Green Lane (out of city centre, near Batu Lancang Market), Opening hrs: Lunch and Dinner
- De Tai Tonng Cafe (specialzes in Dim Sum); Location: 45, Lebuh Cintra, Opening hrs: Lunch and Dinner (lunch only on Sundays)
- Siang Ping Seafood; Location: 598, GF-02, Jalan Tanjung Bungah, Opening Hrs: Lunch and Dinner (Closes on Mondays)
- Chuan Bee Cafe (traditional cafe); Location: 64 Lebuh China Opening Hours: Lunch and Dinner, closes on Sunday
- Penang Song River Cafe; 65, Persiaran Gurney, George Town, Opening hrs: Morning Lunch and Dinner, closes alternate Tuesdays
- Sin Kheng Aun; Location: 2, Lorong Chulia Opening Hrs: Lunch and early Dinner
... and many more