ONE of the things Malaysians, regardless their creed or faith, look forward to during the month of Ramadan is the yearly bazaars.
A popular pop-up feature all over the Klang Valley, these bazaars draw the crowd because of the immense variety of delicious and cheap food.
StarMetro checks out six main locations to see what’s cooking!
TTDI JAYA, SHAH ALAM
At 5.30pm, roads in Shah Alam are already busy with many making their way to Ramadan bazaars.
Vehicles are parked along streets while some choose to park a distance away to take away food from the bazaar along Jalan Saujana Indah 1, TTDI Jaya.
There was a long line of people waiting for chicken and beef murtabak, rice dishes and ayam percik.
Instead of selling the traditional fare, first-time Ramadan bazaar trader Mohd Tamizi Abd Rahman sells fried mushrooms.
Tamizi said he farmed the oyster mushrooms.
The mushrooms are deep-fried in five flavours — original, spicy, black pepper, barbecue and cheese, and sells them at RM2 per cup.
It is a hit with the younger crowd.
Also drawing customers with something different is the Ojai’s Fried Chicken stall manned by Bucktiar Affendy and his wife Normahirah Mohd Norddin.
Normahirah said they only started their business of selling fried chicken and sausages less than a year ago.
“We have a stall nearby but decided to start selling at Ramadan bazaars too,” she said.
A standard-size piece of chicken is priced at RM6 while cheese sausages are sold for RM3.50. They also sell popcorn chicken for RM1.20.
USJ, SUBANG JAYA
The Ramadan bazaar in USJ 4, Subang Jaya, is known for its murtabak stalls, for which dozens of people can be seen queuing at any given moment.
However, the bazaar has much more to offer such as ayam golek, briyani rice, fried squid, coconut milkshake, all forms of Malaysian kuih and even lasagna.
New kid on the block this year is the Putu Perak stall, managed by 27-year-old Perakian Sofia Zulaika and her family.
“Putu Perak uses glutinous rice flour and the desiccated coconut filling is mixed with white sugar instead of palm sugar, unlike putu piring,” said Sofia, answering the first question on our minds.
“Traditional putu Perak also uses a flower-shaped mould, which makes it rounder and thicker than the flat putu piring, and its white filling is not as sweet.
“I have been living here a long time, but my whole family is from Perak and this recipe is handed down,” said Sofia, who uses her own homemade rice flour in the putu Perak that she sells at RM5 for a box of five pieces.
Putu Perak can be found everywhere and is especially common in Kuala Kangsar and Teluk Intan, so she is surprised to find that it is nearly non-existent here.
“It is my first time selling at a Ramadan bazaar. I could not find any putu Perak in Shah Alam and Subang Jaya, so I wanted to give this a try.”
There is some waiting involved since the putu Perak is steamed in batches. It is a good idea for visitors to buy them just before the time to break fast as these treats are best eaten hot and fresh.
SECTION 14, PETALING JAYA
Breaking of fast for Petaling Jaya folk is incomplete without lining up at “Seksyen 14 Popia Basah” stall.
Originating from Gelugor, Penang, the rich rolls of stewed sengkuang, shrimps, and sweet and spicy sauce are quite irresistible.
Stall operator Mohd Kassim Mohd Ismail, 59, is used to the attention and an old hand at fielding questions from the press.
“I’ve been selling popia basah for 30 years now, and every year I get interviewed by the media.
“I have a growing stack of newspaper articles about my stall,” he said proudly.
With machine-like efficiency, Mohd Kassim and his team of four “popiah-rolling specialists serve up about 1,400 pieces a day.
“I wake up at 4.30 every morning to prepare the sauces.
“Oh! I cannot tell you what ingredients I use. That is a secret,” he laughed.
Standing in line for more than 20 minutes, company secretary Rahimah Halim, 33, said the treat was worth the wait.
“This popiah basah is the best. My family and I love it and every Ramadan we line up to buy it,” she said.
Another customer, Param Singh is “passing the baton” to his son, who now waits patiently in line.
“I’ve been buying these spring rolls for him since he was very young. It’s his turn now,” said the father of three.
The stall is open from 3pm to 7pm daily at the Ramadan bazaar in Jalan 14/28, selling the popiah at RM1.20 per piece.
PRECINCT 3, PUTRAJAYA
The largest Ramadan bazaar in Putrajaya is located in front of the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque in Precinct 3, with over 200 stalls and doing brisk business every year.
One of the popular stalls here is King: Legend of Murtabak. During StarMetro’s visit, there was a long line of customers.
For only RM7, the portion is huge — big enough for at least two people.
Stall owner Norhisham Zuhari, who has been operating at the bazaar since 2008, believes it is his special blend of herbs and spices that keeps customers flocking to his stall.
He sells up to 400 pieces a day.
“We use nine different spices in our ground meat,” said the 45-year-old trader who has a regular stall in Banting.
He has also sold his specialty in Sabah and Brunei.
As for the stall name, Norhisham. who is originally from Muar, Johor, said he wanted something that reflected his heritage.
“This recipe is turun-temurun (handed down through the generations) and I learned it from my grandmother, so it has become a ‘legend’,” he laughed.
Our StarMetro reporter lined up for half an hour to sample the chicken murtabak and found that it lived up to its reputation.
Size doesn’t always equal quality, but the version here delivered with juicy meat on the inside, a sweet flavour from the spices and came chock-full of onions — all enveloped in a crispy, fluffy pastry.
TAMAN GREENWOOD, BATU CAVES
Ikan Bakar Jusof in the Taman Greenwood Ramadan Bazaar, Batu Caves, has become popular among patrons here as it is flavourful and cheap.
At any given time during this fasting month, there will be at least 30 customers waiting in queue for their orders.
The stall owner, Jusof Kadir, 45, has been selling the popular dish since 2009 and his blend of spices includes curry powder, ginger, serai, coconut milk and kunyit.
The fish, such as stingray, cencaru, garoupa and siakap as well as squid and prawns are wrapped in banana leaf and grilled on a flat pan. The wait can be long, sometimes up to half an hour.
Jusof said many of his customers, especially those coming from afar such as Putrajaya, Seremban and Serdang, would call him on his cellphone ahead of time to place their orders.
LEMBAH PANTAI, KUALA LUMPUR
The tempting aroma of quirky and traditional street foods attract a sea of people to the Lembah Pantai Ramadan bazaar as early at 4pm every day.
In the heat of the late afternoon sun, Faizul Idris, 35, mans the Murtabak Kristal stall while surrounded by hotplates. He inherited the recipe from his mother, whose family is from Perak.
Faizul first opened his stall in Gombak 17 years ago with two siblings, but moved his business to Lembah Pantai five years ago.
“The recipe was passed down to us; it’s an original recipe, so there’s no copyright issues,” he joked.
On the menu are murtabak with goat meat (RM7) and chicken or beef (RM3). Now, the siblings also offer murtabak Maggi (RM3) which combines the fragrantly spiced omelette with the springy noodles for a more filling meal.
Another stall here attracting a constant stream of visitors is the Tepung Pelita Istimewa (Paya Jaras). The simple set-up consists of a table, umbrella stand and stacks of boxes lined with pandan leaf-wrapped traditional kuih.
The kuih has a rich santan (coconut milk)-filled top over a melt-in-your-mouth pandan layer.
Nadzri Taris, 41, and wife Watie Abdul, 43, say they only make this speciality during the fasting month.
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