Delicious Ramadan Bazaar dishes to serve at home during the breaking of fast.
Every year, during the Islamic month of Ramadan, Muslims around the world would fast and abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until sunset. In Malaysia, one tradition that has always been a staple whenever Ramadan comes around is the food bazaar present in almost every neighbourhood in the country. Popularly known as the Ramadan bazaar, it is basically a month-long food festival that attracts not only the Muslims looking for tasty fare for breaking fast, but other Malaysians as well, all looking to literally sink their teeth into the most delicious comfort food in the country. This year, how about preparing some of these popular dishes at home? There are plenty of tutorials available online as well as in cookbooks, so you can still get your Ramadan bazaar fix even if you can’t go to the actual bazaar. Here are our picks for some of the more popular Ramadan dishes.
No one knows exactly why it’s called Roti John - or John’s Bun, if translated directly, but apparently early iterations of Roti John were made with baguettes. Regardless, the sloppiness of the filling is probably what makes Roti John such a Ramadan bazaar staple. Roti John is essentially an omelette sandwich with fried minced meat and onions, which is then drizzled with mayonnaise and chilli sauce. The choice of sandwich bread should always be the soft, long white bun bread that should be easiest to find in local bakeries.
The murtabak is a kind of stuffed flat bread similar to the paratha and usually is filled with marinated minced chicken or beef. The murtabak is available year-round at many Indian Muslim restaurants in Malaysia but come Ramadan their more adventurous cousin, the Maggi murtabak, makes its appearance at bazaars. Instead of meat, the filling is replaced with the brand’s famous instant noodles. The addition of scrambled eggs, pulled or minced chicken, garlic, paisley, minced shallots and optional diced carrots make it a more fulfilling meal.
Roti jala is a net-like (hence ‘jala,’ meaning ‘net’) savoury pancake that’s made by drizzling runny batter in a lace doily pattern in a hot pan. A popular tea-time snack, it’s usually served in rolls with chicken curry. The batter is made of coconut milk, water, wheat flour, a bit of turmeric and some salt to taste. The batter is poured into a ladle with tapered cones on the bottom, helping make the drizzling easier.
What makes or breaks an ayam percik dish is the sweet and spicy sauce it is usually glazed in. The chicken pieces skewered and grilled, the smoky scent practically finds you in the bazaar. To get that distinct flavour, the chicken is marinated in a mixture of blended shallots, lemongrass, galangal, ginger and salt for at least one hour. Then, coconut milk, lemongrass, galangal, dried chilli, shallots, some tamarind juice as well as salt and sugar are mixed together in a wok to make the gravy that goes extremely well with the grilled chicken.
Originating from the Sambas Malay community, bubur pedas is a staple for Sarawakians during the months of Ramadan. The dish is essentially a congee packed with vegetables and meat that’s curry-like in colour. What sets it apart from a similar variation, the bubur lambuk, is the mixture of spices that are added in. This mix usually contains garlic, ginger, shallots, onions, dried chilli, turmeric, lemon grass, galangal and grated coconut.
Kuih tepung pelita’s blend of a sweet base, coconut milk, and fragrant screwpine (pandan) leaves makes it just the perfect thing to have post-break of fast (or post-dinner, even). The kuih is made of a sweet pandan-flavoured base with a top layer of coconut milk-infused rice flour. At Ramadan bazaars, it is usually found in small containers made of pandan leaves, which holds the soft and creamy cake when it is steamed.
Regular versions of the kek batik usually feature Marie brand cream biscuits that are broken into pieces and chucked into a mixture of condensed milk and either the malty drink Milo powder, or just plain cocoa. Chocolate sauce is then drizzled atop the finished cake, although some do opt to add more toppings (almond bits or chocolate sprinkles!) on top of the sauce itself. It’s relatively easy to make but does require a few hours of chilling in the fridge to harden. Once taken out and cut into pieces, the cake is usually a big hit with the kids!
When you have a lot of free time at home and not likely to visit any Ramadan bazaars, take this opportunity to create your own Ramadan bazaar favourites and make it an activity with the family.