Its actually going to end soon in a few days...
Some explanation of what Ramadan is,
Ramadan is the 9th month in the Muslim calendar where they would abstain from various activities like the commonly known: fasting for a long period of time, to the lesser known: sex or gossip. Its meant to be a time of purity and prayers. Their fasting period is after breakfast before their morning prayer around 5am (or before dawn) and ends after the evening prayer at 7.30pm.
You are now probably wondering why in this entire month of fasting is there mentioned of food. That is because Muslims have to eat for the Iftar Meal (the meal to break the fast in Ramadan).
From 4pm to 7pm, many areas in Malaysia will have their own ‘pasar malam’ (night market) daily for Ramadan. Imagine, preparing the ingredients, working on the stove, smelling the wafts of deliciousness and serving to customers of both Muslims and non-Muslims for an entire month without eating or drinking. That is some high will power there...
Of course, one should be a little more tolerant to Muslims during this time, as fasting does takes quite a toll on both body and mind. Some people say not to eat food in front of Muslims but many Muslim food sellers do give samples for you to try, so judge the situation accordingly.
And now onto the glorious food! Please note some of the food here are also available at other times of the year but Ramadan can be seen as an easy way of getting various dishes of the Malay/Muslim culture.
Ayam Goreng Berempah (Spiced Fried Chicken)
A Malay type of fried chicken. This recipe doesn’t use too much on flour but focuses on spices like lemongrass, chili powder, chicken curry powder, dried coriander, turmeric, and curry leaves.
Its meat is quite tender despite being fried!
CURRY, CURRY, CURRY!
Dozens of curry varieties sold at 2 ringgit per bag (divide 3.8 for USD), can you imagine my happiness? You could try to takeout several curries but its best to try the stall 1st with 1 curry to see whether its up to your standards. There is no worry of food poisoning in Ramadan time as its more likely that they would over cooked the food (many dishes here are slow cooked food).
Gulai Balitong (Curry Sea Snails)
Delicious but has some steps just to get to eat very little meat. You have to crack the end of the shell, suck a little, then blow it out. After you take out the snail meat, you have to get rid of the black head as its too tough to eat. Its like a cross of fish and oyster while being a little gummy.
Mee Goreng (Fried Noodles)
A noodle dish created by Indians by stir-frying it over a Chinese Wok. Its one of those poor man meals created out of the hawker food boom decades ago. This dish is uniquely found in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore but not India. Mee Goreng doesn’t have strict rules as to what is added into it, but common ingredients would be including cabbage, sambal (fish curry sauce), oyster sauce, dark soy sauce, ketchup and before eating it, squeeze the lime that is included.
Originated from Yemen and spread to India which Indian imigriants then spread to us (Malaysia).
A pan fried dough with eggs, curried minced meat and vegetables like green peas or corn in it. The dough is more similiar to roti canai, a kind of flatbread that is stretched by spinning the dough over the head, several times. But for this version, the dough is spread over a round pan, the food contents placed in the middle then its folded several times.
The ever famous satay. I was quite pleasantly surprised years ago that it was a hit in the U.S., years ago. On the left, is chicken while the right is beef.
This is one area that the recipe is actually pretty strict as over the years of eating satay in many stalls, and the taste will always hit the same ‘notes’. The only difference I can find, are the miniscule adjustments to the amount of the ingredients. But you could always adjust it to your taste in your home.
The recipe often includes: lemongrass, galangal, coriander, cumin, turmeric, fennel, sugar, garlic, shallots, salt. Skewer the meat (usually chicken thigh) together with some fat, marinade for 3 to 4 hours and caremilized over a BBQ grill. Often served with peanut sauce, sambal sauce, nasi impit (compressed rice) or cucumber. I’ll admit to not caring about the rest and only the satay meat. Its just that good.
There’s also the bigger sibling, compared to the smaller sibling, I find it to be less caramelized on its sauces. If you’re not too sure which meat to choose, choose chicken. Chicken Satay has more success of being cooked right than beef in my experience.
There was even a honey BBQ version around.
Snacks and Kuih Muih (Cakes)
On its left, is Popiah (Fresh Spring Rolls). A snack that is rolled up with a thin sheet of flour, and its filled with vegetables like beansprouts, sliced carrots, lettuce leaves and topped with crushed peanuts.
The brown desert seems to be a variant of Kuih Seri Muka/Kuih Salat (Pretty Face Cake) but using brown sugar while its bottom is glutinous rice.
Not too sure what the blind coloring cakes are...
Next to it, is the snack Karipap. Its a fried pastry dough with dried curry fillings in it. It can be chicken, fish or potato. I happen to like the fish version in this stall but if you want to have a safe choice, choose potato and not chicken.
Another desert that comprises of 2 layers of different flavors. Both layers use bean starch in it so its quite sticky. The top layer is coconut milk while the bottom layer (which is green) is pandan juice. Pandan leaf is also made as a container for this desert. I could have tried to take a picture without the leaf container but it was too floppy...
Marie Fudge Cake
A cake that uses Milo (chocolate malt powder), the Marie brand biscuit, condensed milk, and butter. You’re supposed to melt and mix the ingredients (not the biscuit), break the biscuit, pour the melted mixture and let it cool in the fridge for a few hours. It used to be popular in the 90s and my mom used to make it but I honestly couldn’t remember tasting it.
This version I got seems to have a more buttery taste and I usually like more chocolate but I keep being a frequent customer to this stall...Its too addicting and it certainly threw my diet out of the window...I eat this every few days. For this much of fudge cake, it was 3 ringgit.
A type of brown sugar, pandan leaves, coconut milk/water drink. If you buy one of those, do not panic seeing green worms in your drink. Its just flour jelly noodles. Its part of its ‘charm’.
The nostalgic looking gadget in the middle there is an ice crusher, usually used in ‘Ais Kacang’, a type of desert of crushed ice, condensed milk, sweetened fruits and some colorful syrup.
Starting from the left, Sweetened Mango Juice, Nescafe Vanilla, Watermelon, Ambra Drink (very sour). Surprisingly, this Nescafe Vanilla is better than the commercilized can version. I’m a huge fan.
Alas, Ramadan is near its end and I wouldn’t see many of these stalls until next year. I will cry in my sleep as this year’s ‘catch’ is the best. I would have to hog some of the food in these last few days...
*As Ramadan ends on the 17 of July, Hari Raya begins on the same day...more cakes to come!*