Ramadan is the Holy month for Muslims around the world that promotes spiritual purification to perform religious rituals and experience the sufferings of the poor by fasting from dawn to dusk without a spoon of food and a drop of water.
In Malaysia, Ramadan is associated with social and cultural activities and has become a platform to bond the community, regardless of religion and race. We handle iftar (breaking fast) events such as Iftar@KL that has been done since 2012 where everyone including tourists has a chance to experience Iftar together at Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur, the capital itself. Not to forget, the most awaited food market that everyone has been rooting for every year, the bazaar Ramadan.
Bazaar Ramadan is the name of food markets that can be found in every community that opens every evening for the society to buy delicacies for iftar. Bazaar Ramadan operates from 3-4pm until 7-8pm daily during the whole month of Ramadan. Believe me, this is the only place where you can find everything that you have been craving for especially some traditional Malay desserts that has been benchmarked to only appear during Ramadan. Apparently, Bazaar Ramadan has become the heaven of food for Malaysians, and I can assure you that you will be very lucky to visit Malaysia during this period as you will have the chance to taste all the best rated and special food and beverages. Below are some of the food and beverages that should be in your bucket list in this month especially when visiting Bazaar Ramadan.
- Ayam Golek
Photo courtesy of Vkeong.com
For the direct translation, ayam is chicken and golek is rolling in Malay. Basically, it is just a roasted chicken, but what is basic when you smell the strongly marinated scent and see all these chickens skewed and rolled at the grills like that? The marinate itself is one thing, but what makes an ayam golek the king of the day is the home made black pepper sauce to be eaten with it. There is also ayam golek madu or honey roasted chicken for the ones who savour for the sweets. You can get roasted chicken anytime at deli bars at supermarkets and restaurants, but no roasted chicken can beat this champion.
2. Tepung Pelita
Photo courtesy of womensweekly.my
The Malays are very metaphoric in their words, even in giving names to their traditional desserts. Just look, tepung is flour and pelita is oil lamp in Malay. But, I have to admit that the shape of the dessert does look a bit like the traditional Malay oil lamp, maybe it’s because of the green pandan (screwpine) leaves coating it. The tepung pelita has a white layer on top made of creamy, salty coconut milk mixed with rice flour and a pinch of salt. The green bottom layer is made with rice flour, juice from pandan leaves and sugar. They’re steamed in moulds made from banana leaves. The texture is like a pudding, I must say, so do eat this with a spoon. Don’t try to find this dessert outside the month of Ramadan, it will only exhaust you. So save your energy and buy them now while the month lasts!
3. Roti Jala
Photo courtesy of batupahat.org
The roti jala or net bread is usually rolled but it is up to the cook to do any shape that they desire, as for this picture, triangular roti jala. Same case as the ayam golek earlier, the speciality of the roti jala is not because of the bread itself, but the sauce that is served with it. It is usually served with chicken or beef curry, but the roti jala will win without competing when it is served with durian porridge. From my observation without any hands-on practice, I can conclude that making roti jala is quite easy by just moving the batter into concentric circles, forming fine, lacy bread using the roti jala mould on a hot pan, but the challenge is to make the nets obvious. Superb precision needed to accomplish a piece of roti jala. Fun fact; the common colour of roti jala is yellow, but you can make them in other colours as well!
4. Ayam Percik
Photo courtesy of sixthseal.com
Ayam percik is a coconut spiced chicken that is either grilled or baked. The ones that you’ll be seeing at the bazaar ramadan is grilled with low charcoal fire. As usual, two important things that made this dish the best in the world; the marinate, and the sauce, and like any other Malay dish, the second word matters most. Believe me, I have done this dish at home before, and I don’t know how to grill nor bake the chickens so I decided to marinate and fry the chickens instead and follow the recipe for the sauce and bon appetit! The taste is exactly the same if you don’t mess up the sauce, but needless to say, the original grilled version is definitely better than an impromptu fried one from a beginner chef like me.
5) Katira Juice
Photo courtesy of resepikoleksiemak.blogspot.my
The Katira juice starts to become popular in Malaysia from the State of Johor, but some said that this drink was originated from Singapore while some said that this is a favourable drink for the Muslim community in South India. The Katira juice is famous for its nutritional value as it contains many healthy ingredients such as dates, raisins, almond, and much more that is beneficial to replenish the nutrients in our body after fasting the whole day. To be completely honest, I have not dared to try this drink yet because I don’t like any food or drink that is green in colour except for green apple juice because it resembles vegetables, and I loathe them. But then, the word has gone around and the Katira juice has been one of the crowd’s favourite during Ramadan. Maybe I should try a glass myself soon.
5. Assorted traditional Malay delicacies
Photo courtesy of hanasuva.com
This is the only time where you can find each and every traditional Malay delicacy sold at long tables like this. Name it and they will have it. There are a lot of my personal favourite delicacies to list out and it will be very long. All I can say is, everything will be digested in your stomach happily. Nowadays, they even have modern desserts such as caramel pudding, bread pudding, and jellies.
Apart from the list above, there are also foods such as murtabak and Arabian kebab that are tasty too but you can also find them easily during weekly markets all year round. You’ll find more foods that what I have listed as you step foot at one of the bazaar ramadans here. Do ask around and seek assistance with the friendly locals on the must eat foods and beverages here. Malaysians are very passionate with food and will be glad to show you the best picks. So, what are you waiting for? Book a flight ticket to Malaysia and fill in your tastebuds while the month, and the food lasts!
Happy Ramadan Kareem to all!