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Monday July 23, 2012

Ramadan bazaars a time for seasonal traders to make profits

THE first day of Ramadan proved to be a busy day for some Muslims, as they got busy preparing for business at Ramadan bazaars.

In Kampung Baru Kuala Lumpur, makeshift stalls and tents were erected along Jalan Raja Alang as early as noon to ensure that everything was ready before business started at 1pm.

This was the only time of the year, when small-time traders could reap good profits by selling authentic mouth-watering Malay delicacies. It is well known that even non-Muslims and tourists throng the carnival-like bazaars to savour the food.

There were more than 150 stalls selling a variety of kuih, jellies, porridge, soups, noodles, satay, ayam percik, ayam panggang, murtabak daging, ayam penyet, pecal Jawa, nasi campur, pulut durian and colourful beverages at affordable prices. Some stalls also sold items such as clothes, slippers and costume jewellery.

The stall that caught our attention was one selling putu bambu. Mohamed Assyahrien Habibi Yusrizal was busy steaming rice flour in small bamboo pipes.

Popular among Malaysians, putu bambu is made of rice flour cooked with palm sugar and is served with desiccated coconut.

Kept busy: Patrons at the Ikan Bakar Abang Misai stall waiting patiently for the grilled fish.

Preferred to be known as Habibi, the 24-year-old said the family has been operating the stall every Ramadan for 12 years.

“First, we pre-steam the rice flour at home. It is usually done after the terawih prayers. We steam it again at the stall, but it has to be done in less than two minutes to keep it fluffy,” said Habibi, whose hands were moving swiftly to pack the cooked putu bambu and fill another bamboo pipe for steaming.

Each piece of putu bambu is sold at 50 sen while a pack of 11 pieces is priced at RM5.

Habibi travels from Gombak with his family every day to operate his stall in Kampung Baru.

A regular trader at the bazaar, Mohamed Hilmi Zakaria, 26, said his father started selling chicken and beef murtabak in Kampung Baru during Ramadan 26 years ago.

Mohamed Hilmi who is a full-time taxi driver, took over the stall some 10 year ago.

“I learnt the trade from my father. Now, my elder brother and two workers help me at the stall,” he added.

Grilled to perfection: The Kepak Madu stall is popular among visitors of the Kampung Baru Ramadan bazaar.

In terms of preparations, Mohamed Hilmi said he would wake up as early as 6am to go to the market to buy ingredients. Both the chicken and beef murtabak are sold at RM2 per piece and served with pickled onion.

By 6pm, Mohamed Hilmi had used up 1,200 eggs to make the dish. His stall was among the popular ones as evidenced by the long queue.

Meanwhile, Anis Mokhtar and her husband, who currently reside in Kampung Baru said they have been selling grilled fish at the bazaar for three years. Their stall is known as Ikan Bakar Abang Misai.

Customers could choose to have ikan pari, kembung, cencaru, keli, terubuk, siakap, tilapia and bawal hitam.

Anis said the price ranged between RM3 and RM18, depending on the type and size of the fish.

Preparations would begin as early as 6.30am when the couple go to market.

The fish would be marinated with special ingredients for a few hours prior to opening for business at 3pm.

Another well-known stall in Kampung Baru is the Kepak Madu stall.

Sahrial Tabi, 45, said it was a tradition for the family to sell the grilled honeyed chicken wings. They have been doing it for 20 years.

Sahrial said apart from chicken wings, tongkeng ayam, pedal ayam and hati ayam were also popular among bazaar visitors.

Chicken wings were sold at RM1 each or four pieces at RM5, while tongkeng ayam, pedal ayam and hati ayam were sold at RM1 per skewer.

There was also a bustling fruit and vegetable street market, which operates daily at night.

As parking could be a hassle during Ramadan, travelling via train (Kampung Baru and Chow Kit LRT stations) is recommended.

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